I went to the Universal Studio theme park in Singapore recently. It was cultural studies in action for me.
Ya, ya.....I know, I'm a nerd. Go on, whack me. And ya, ya....I didn't visit art galleries like I should. Well, with due respect, I got a much better dose of cultural studies and critical theories to practice and apply at the Universal Studio than some sterile, pretentious and 'mandul' artsy-fatsy galleries (and their 'artists'). Sorry, whack me again!!!
And ya, ya, I should know how to switch off and just enjoy myself. But I can't. I kept recalling Jean Baudrillard, this critical theories thinker who came up with the term 'simulacra' to explain how our so-called 'reality' has been hijacked by 'simulation' or in plain English, made-up copies.
These copies are many times distanced away (copies upon copies upon copies) from the 'original', until we lost a sense of origin/original. What we took as real and original have merged with 'simulation', until we can't even distinguish between the two. It brings death to the original, thus the 'requiem'. At times during the tour, I heard this requiem lingering in my ears.
Universal Studio is a land where the 'merchants of Hollywood dreams' have brought all their (and our) dreams into the real world, to inhabit it, for good. Dreams and reality merged into one. I immersed and merged into the many dreams, from streets in Hollywood (LA) and New York, to the Far, Far Away Land, to Jurassic Park, to ancient tomb in Egypt to Madagascar to the world inhabited by Megatron, his friends and foes. I met Shrek and his entourage - his wife, Puss in the Boot, that donkey dude and his dragon wife. I also met that dude who was always chased away by mummies. I didn't see his beautiful wife and kid though. I even touched T-Rex sharp tooth, and survived.
I chickened away from taking that crazy roller-coaster ride. It saved the crew from having to wipe my puke, if I took the ride. I know....don't have to remind me, I'm getting old!
I was blown away by the 'hyper-real' simulation of being in a "Transformer" movie, instead of just watching it. It was breathtaking, and I lost myself in the 'simulacrum'. I became the actor, the rider, not Hasnul J Saidon anymore. I was taken over by Hollywood dreams. It was like going into the 'Holodeck' of Starship Enterprise. "Beam me up Scotty". Phoooooohhh.....
Hooray to high or 'advanced' modernism! (according to some, another word for post-modernism).
This is the offspring of globalisation, the pride of free market capitalism, the result of technological revolution. Some clever people say that it is an epitome of modernism killing itself in a weird act of suicide. Reality as we know, is dying. Soon, a new reality will inhabit (or colonise) not only a piece of land in Malaysia (or anywhere), but directly inside our mind, bugging our neurons (brain cells), creating neural pathways that promise to bring us to our version of heaven (or hell, depending or our money and request).
Give them your money, take the red pill, plug in, and enjoy the ride.
I took mine already!
For another 'miracle' of 'globali-basi', click here. (Its in Malay though)