Ben D. – BASIS DC

Social Media, the 2016 Election, and Hyperreality: A Contextual Analysis of Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation

Project/blog link: Social Media, the 2016 Election, and Hyperreality: A Contextual Analysis of Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation
BASIS Advisor: Ms. Jennifer Hamnett
Internship location: Campaign Office of Gene Rossi
Onsite Mentor: Mr. Scott Remley, Campaign Manager and General Consultant

Project Abstract

Many people are trying to make sense of how Donald Trump managed to win the presidency. Some say the election was a reaction against the political establishment and globalization. Others say Clinton’s flaws as a candidate are primarily to blame. While it’s fair to say that many different factors played a role in the outcome, this project seeks to explore a less traditional avenue. The philosophy of Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) can be crudely summarized by his quote from 1981’s Simulacra and Simulation: “We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.” Baudrillard argued that the proliferation of signs, images, and media paradoxically destroys the information that it seeks to represent. The 2016 election certainly saw a proliferation of media coverage, to the point where some joked that the election was Trump’s new reality show. This project seeks to answer the question of how this phenomenon influenced Trump’s ability to win in spite of his being, by traditional measures, a fatally flawed candidate. Additionally, as Baudrillard died before social media became widespread, the project also considers social media as a new lens through which to evaluate his criticisms of the media. Through a selection of readings by and about Baudrillard, along with the experience of interning on a political campaign to see firsthand how candidates manage their media presence, this project will dissect the 2016 election through the lens of postmodern criticism.

Social Media, the 2016 Election, and Hyperreality: A Contextual Analysis of Baudrillard's Theory of Simulation