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Simulation and Hyperreality
Hyperreality is associated with the phenomenon in mass culture, explaining that an event or object sometimes replaces the original image for people to think that the object is real. As a result, it is often difficult to find the difference between the fake and the real. According to Baudrillard, hyperreality is closely associated with the form of simulation, the independence simulacra that is exempted from all connections to the original. Hence, the main function of hyperreality lies in enhancing the ideological image of America to conceal the fact that the American Dream is no longer a reality, but a fake representation attracting consumers (Goody 2005). As a result, hyperreality can also be perceived as a selective imitation of images for people to conceive what is implied, but not what they see.
In contrast to hyperreality, simulation reflects a mixture of reality and representation and, therefore, it is impossible to define where the real begins and where the false image is represented. Hence, the simulation does not make the object more real, as it is delivered through hyperreality; rather, it blends both real with the unreal to make it difficult for the audience to distinguish.
Hyperreality and simulation are heavily applied in commercial practices to create additional value for consumers. As an example, Edvardsson, Enquist, and Johnson (2005) reflect on the notion of hyperreality and its relation to commercial activities contributing to the service creation. The scholars focus on “test drive” as a created hyperreality for the consumers who want to perceive that they drive their cars. The test drive is only provided for those people who plan to purchase a car.
Creating Hyperreality through Toys
Children are the easiest target for consumers whose consciousness and preferences could be efficiently guided by created products, values, and services. Using toys as the manipulators of children’s mind is also an effective commercial tool for increasing the demand for the product or concept. By creating dolls for girls, the producers plan to create a hyperreal cultural landscape that makes girls adopt similar lifestyles by trying to be as beautiful as Barbie (MacDougall 2003). Children and adolescents spend most of their time in simulations, and toys, therefore, can become powerful tools for turning their imagination into reality (Terashima and Tiffin 2012). Therefore, simulation or simulacra has been replaced for the real life of kids. It happens at various levels from video games to role-playing dolls. Dolls are crucial for shaping the modern modes of mass consumption and production, building the underpinning for postmodern culture. Barbie is considered the brightest example of how children’s consumer styles can be simulated.
Western producers turn toys into the vehicles of shaping cultural tastes and preferences. At this point, Barbie has also become a transnational product influencing cultural settings and modifying the tastes of children all over the world (See Appendix 1). In various cultures, particularly in Mexico, Barbie has been reformulated to meet the demands of the local identities (MacDougall 2003). Aside from cultural peculiarities, Barbie is also represented as a feminine icon that establishes certain standards of beauty for girls. Obsessed with these standards and norms, little girls often distort their tastes and, as a result, their form wrong outlook on the concept of beauty and feminine.
In light of globalization, the power of economy and marketing opportunities have a direct impact on social life. As a result, it has also been argued that such transnational products as Barbie can easily penetrate new cultures and environments, transforming them and distorting the images of the goods. Specific attention should also be paid to consumption as a new field of social research, in which “…people are increasingly defining themselves in terms of their access to commodities, and are using consumptions as a marker of social identity” (MacDougall 2003, p. 258). Therefore, media advertisers present Barbie dolls to children as a hyperreality in which they can become adults and engage in all activities that adults do.
Assimilating cultural preferences into the created toys is necessary to make children learn more about diverse identities. In this respect, Milnor (2005) discusses the “Great Eras Collection” of Barbie dolls representing historical events, ranging from Egyptian pharaohs to 1920s in the United States. According to the scholar, “the Great Eras Collection also displays the tension between diversity and sameness which is present in the more traditional images of Barbie” (Milnor 2005, p. 215). Once again, Barbie dolls represent a fictional variation of the historic reality to simulate the imaginary of children.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that hyperreality is an effective means of controlling and influencing consumer’s consciousness that falsely identifies the media images with the real world. It differs from the simulation in terms extent to which reality is concealed. Barbie dolls are the brightest example of how reality could be simulated because children refer to the target groups whose life is predominantly as a sequence of simulations. Girls often conceive Barbie dolls as veritable images of feminine beauty and iconic standards.
Edvardsson, B, Enquist, B., and Johnson, R 2005, ‘Cocreating Customer Value through Hyperreality in the Prepurchase Service Experience’, Journal of Service Research, vol. 8, no. 2, 149-161.
Goody, D 2005, ‘Shopping for Pleasure’, Meadow Brook Art Gallery, Web.
MacDougall, J 2003, ‘Transnational Commodities as Local Cultural Icons: Barbie Dolls in Mexico’, Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 257-275.
Milnor, K 2005, ‘Barbie as Grecian Goddess and Egyptian Queen: Ancient Women’s History by Mattel’, Helios, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 215-233
Terashima, N, and Tiffin, J 2012, HyperReality: Paradigm for the Third Millenium. Routledge, New York.