Postmodern Simulations and Modernist Convenient Truths

Trump conservatives manage both to embrace some tenants of postmodernity, primarily the truth-less void of Baudrillard’s simulations, while at the same time dismissing the ambiguous nature of postmodern identities. Instead they demand that the inherent truths of “traditional” gender and sex roles be upheld without question.

In a post-need based economy advertisers make their products stand out by establishing codes of meaning. When all pickup trucks fulfill the need trucks are supposed to fulfill, an effort must be made to elevate the truck brand itself, the idea invoked by it that is, above the utility value of the truck itself. This branding, a la Naomi Klein, very much applies to the news media outlets of the day. So the “Ford Truck man” may well also be the “Fox News man.” This begins as a matter of seeming preference, but over time comes to have great significance for the consumer. With the investment in one brand or another his very identity is at stake. Codes illuminate what one product or another is made to represent, and with great cunning, marketers are adept at exploiting prejudices and cultural boundaries.

Fox news has become the Ford F-150. CNN is a Honda Accord. MSNBC is a Toyota Prius. When deliberating your purchase there is no need to debate the utility, or truth-value as it may be, of one or the other. The decision is evident. To be the truck man is to be certain, unequivocal, steadfast, unwavering, proud, American, and most importantly, masculine. This is the emotional link that has come to bind a segment of the population to the network of American propaganda. Trump’s refrain of “fake news” is rewarding for the truck man highlighting what he already knows, that the other options are inadequate, even effeminate. The realness or fakeness of the news is not of issue, as the decision has already been made, and for reasons wholly unrelated to truth or untruth.

In this way advanced consumer culture has spearheaded the postmodern era. We are led to dutifully mold our sense of self from a range of consumer goods. But modernist essentialism makes a return in at least one strand of the Trump conservative brand. The realness of most things can be made up as you go, but gender roles and sexual identity must remain fixed. Here truth has no truthiness. Trump chastised his staff, women were supposed to look like women. North Carolina’s bathrooms must be bastions of the gender binary. Transgendered youth must go back to being the boys and girls God intended them to be. It is as if we’re living in the worst of modernity and the worst of the postmodern simultaneously.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring