Welcome to the Real "Earth"
Mass media and technological advancement have created webs of images of reality, which often serve as resources for audiences and social actors to refer to while interpreting and understanding the world around them. Sociologist and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard understood such mass production, imitations and constant reproduction of images and goods as “second order” simulation. This second order simulation, according to Baudrillard, disturbs and blurs the line between the “real” and the “copy,” threatening to detach social actors from the “reality.” Theatrical performances and fictional television programs could be seen as examples of second order simulation, where representational images of reality are constantly reproduced, occupying spaces of cultural elements. Following fabricated television programs, reality shows have intended to create images which are more “real,” indicating that such media representations have “more” solid basis in real life. Documentary as well, is another form of social representation aiming to bring the “reality” back to the audiences. The new Disney production, “Earth,” another film on nature and wildlife, is also one of the genres featuring “authenticity” and “natural reality.”
The film, similar to the “Planet Earth” and the “March of the Penguins,” intends to present natural reality as accurate as possible, while fitting it into the criteria of a G-rated film. However, characteristics of Baudrillard’s second order simulation are still blatantly manifested in these “reality” programs, whether they are television productions, documentaries or natural-life films. The picking and selecting of scenes and shots and the editing of the films show clear traces of artificial interference, which make these films and programs no less “fabricated” then fiction or theatre. The are still artificially articulated, mass produced, and constantly imitated and copied, operating to create webs of images representing the reality. Further more, the intention of “presenting” reality is actually “producing” a reality which is believable, accurate and “authentic” to the audience. The “reality” is even more detached from the audiences and social actors. Adopting Baudrillard’s idea of the “third order” simulation, when audiences started to believe and connect to the “reality” produced and created by television shows and programs, the simulacra precedes and determines what is “real.” “Reality” breaks down and what is left is the simulacra. Drawing from Baudrillard’s conclusion, in the age of urbanization, post-industrialization and mass production, people no longer live in “reality,” but a “simulacra of reality.”