Archive for the ‘Bourdieu’ Category

Bourdieu on the Olympics

February 28, 2010

A parallel can be seen [between] artistic production [and the Olympics]. The individual artist’s directly visible actions obscure the activity of the other actors—critics gallery owners, museum curators, and so on—who, in and through their competition, collaborate to produce the meaning and the value of both the artwork and the artist. Even more important, they produce the very belief in the value of art and artist that is the basis of the whole art game. Likewise, in sports, the champion runner or javelin thrower is only the obvious subject of a spectacle that in some sense is produced twice. The first production is the actual event in the stadium, which is put together by a whole array of actors, including athletes, trainers, doctors, organizers, judges, goalkeepers, and masters of the ceremonies. The second show reproduces the first in images and commentary. Usually labouring under enormous pressure, those who produce on the second show are caught up in the whole network of objective relationships that weighs heavily on each of them. (Bourdieu, On Television 81)

Bourdieu goes on to call for an investigation into the processes of production behind the Olympics, so that we might collectively take control of the event and return it to the humanistic, universalist values at the heart of the project. How could this investigation be accomplished? It might be interesting to make a documentary about the media industry that produces the Olympic spectacle, but would that simply be adding another level of media encoding to the original event? It seems that a good way to capitalize on the spectacular apparatus is to make the culture industry itself the star of its own ancillary spectacle. In this way, the revenues generated by the Olympics could be extended just that much further, even after the Original event is over.

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