A Spectacle

In our contemporary society an individual is bombarded with representations and images of reality. As an outcome, many life experiences have been changed into a spectacle. A spectacle is a term that commonly refers to something that is on visual display and also describes how representations control contemporary culture; however it is a social construction through images (Sturken et al 164). The Euro Cup 2004 is a spectacle, which happens every four years in a different country, usually broadcast in most countries throughout the world. Theorist Guy Debord coined the idea of contemporary culture being submerged into a spectacle, part of the situationist ideology. We are surrounded with unrealistic images, yet these images are representations of reality. We as the viewer perceive these images as being real, however in truth it is a representation, which has masked itself as reality. An example of a spectacle is the Euro Cup 2004, which is a media display that is a televised broadcast. The Euro Cup provides social relation for the spectator that is mediated by images, it is perceived as being a real life event; however it is only a depiction of reality, an image of the real. The Euro cup 2004 illustrates how TV programs turn life into spectacle.
Television serves as the medium in which life is transformed into a spectacle. The supremacy of television is articulated through its prevalent combination to the households, which surrounds spectators all over the world. It does so for the reason that it is a form of communication. The medium, that being television, has allowed the everyday life to turn into a spectacle, in turn showing a representation of reality. The Euro Cup acts as a vehicle to show off soccer player’s endeavors of the soccer scene. This occasion is considered an example of a spectacle, as it acts as a visual display of weeks of skills, status and distinction. Although only a few experiences a life like this, it is a life of which many can only dream of. It abolishes our own experience, and television is, “viewed as an instrument of oppression and intellectual deprivation transforms individuals into passive media machines by directing a simulated technocratically controlled identity to viewers, substituting a world of flat images for a world of experience” (www.egs.edu./mediaphi/judy/ch3.html). The flat image of the world represents what we recognize as showing real, yet the Euro Cup is only the representation of life, because as we are watching this program, we are only getting access to what is available and being shown to us on the television.
The medium of the television provides the spectators with a pre-show of who is going to play against each other; sport newscasters discuss the event. Just like the popular Super Bowl, commercials are made specifically for the Euro Cup to provide viewers with information of the upcoming game. Since there is always a constant reminder, one feels that they must conform to the norm of taking part in the viewing of this event. In turn, television created this impression of the Euro Cup, making it into a spectacle, a glamorous cannot-miss event. People have become obsessed with the life of a celebrity that has been sensationalized, and therefore has ignored the things that are of essential of importance. The spectacle takes away from our everyday lives, and creates a pretense of the world that can only be witnessed on television. They do so by broadcasting soccer games at special times of night or during the day, therefore one is forced to change their schedule in order to be a part of this spectacle. Guy Debord outlines this idea by stating, “images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished” (DeBord) Taking images from our everyday lives and putting them all together does not send out a portrayal of reality. Television provides one a stream of images, which enable an individual to view the world frame by frame. Having stated this, the Euro Cup is only a piece of reality, represented as something bigger than itself, which takes away from one’s own self and brings one into the world of the spectacle.
The spectacle of the Euro Cup is also linked to the promotion and reinforcement of capitalist ideology, consumerism and the culture industries. Guy DeBord was a part of the group, Situationiste International Magazine, who started the situationist thinking. The group believed that capitalism is a privately owned system of the world, which has now been divided into consumers and producers. Furthermore the group believed that all life had really become is a life of consumption and everything had turned into a spectacle (Marshall). The theory of the spectacle had come from the Karl Marx view that, “selling is the praxis of alienation” and that, “when under the sway of egoistic need,” man can produce objects ‘only by making his products and his activity subordinate to an alien substance” namely, money” (Megill 148). Marx amplifies that the process of producing, selling and buying has separated us from ourselves, and that the market promotes this in the spectacle, which consumes one with the ideas of product value. The situationists ideas added to Marx’s theory with the recognition on capitalism ideology. They believed that imitation needs were used to increase consumption instead of actual needs. Through the example of the Euro Cup, many consumerist ideologies are present; such as commercials shown with catchy phrases. Adidas designed the ‘roteiro’ soccer ball just for the Euro Cup, companies sponsored the players (Carlsberg, JVC etc…) and the fact that soccer industry would profit of the publicity created around this spectacle. These are examples of how the spectacle creates imitation needs, the unreal life style that is being sold to the community through these advertisements. One may believe that by obtaining these material goods, one will somehow attain the skills and lifestyle of these celebrities. The spectacle has the power to endorse commodity fetishism and stimulate consumer society, which is the process where by artificial value of good is exchanged its meaning through advertising (Sturken et al 164). For instance, the Euro Cup website has many commercials and clips showing what happened in the games. When spectators see these advertisements they correlate these brands with extravagant life styles, and in exchange value rises with their sponsors. The consumer goes out and purchases the brands, which are advertised rather than the value of the actual piece. When one sees soccer stars wearing these sponsors’ items, they associate it with the upper echelons society. Guy Debord states that, “the spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.” The spectacle has the ability to work on one’s own; it functions independently of other components or systems. Therefore the spectacle operates on its own, not mediated by the public, however controlled by the ones who produce it.
The Euro Cup as a spectacle does indeed have many implications in our everyday lives. The spectacle still exists today, but is not always seen as negative as Guy Debord makes it out to be. Even though Debord states that, “in societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.” (DeBord) Life has been transformed into a representation, and can be seen in all spectacles. Real life is now mediated with images and what one perceives as real is only a representation of real life. Television in terms of spectacles can offer more of a positive interpretation then that offered by Debord. The Euro Cup provides an example of the notion that spectacles are a way that brings society together. However the Euro Cup also promoted Nationality (pride for Country), acts as a source of entertainment and unites people together, which link ones’ to an event of flamboyant scale. The Euro Cup as a spectacle has the capability in offering a more positive interpretation of TV then Debord’s approach to the spectacle.
In our society, one is bombarded with representations and images of reality, although as a result, many of our life experiences have been changed into a spectacle. The spectacle is a social event that is constructed through images (Sturken et al 366). The Euro Cup is a spectacle that takes place every four years and it televised to the world to see. This spectacle provides social relation the spectator that is mediated by images, it is perceived as being a real life event; however it is only a depiction of reality, an image of the real. The Euro cup illustrates how TV programs turn life into spectacle

Work Cited
Cartwright, Martha and Sturken, Lisa. (2001) Practices of Looking An introduction to Visual Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.
Guy, Debord.(1967) The Society of the Spectacle. [Online]. Paris. Available from http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/pub_contents/4 [accessed on March 31, 2006]
Marshall, Peter. (1992) Demanding the Impossible Guy Debord and the Situationists [Online]. London: Hammersmith. Available from http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Obituary/debord.htmlU [accessed on April 2, 2006]
Megill, Allan. (2002) Karl Marx The Burden of Reason. Maryland: Rowman &Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
(1997-2005) Television and the Image [Online]. New York: USA. Available from: www.egs.edu./mediaphi/judy/ch3.html [accessed on April 4 2006]