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Faking The News | Week 1 Assignment 1

So, before I started on the assignment I read up more on Precession of Simulacra. The concept was not intuitive for me initially, so I had to go through several references to try to understand it.

Quoting from wikipedia, a simulacrum is when a symbol or representation "...has no relationship to any reality whatsoever." It exists in a post-modern society (i.e. us, now), where signs or symbols:

  1. Do not represent reality

  2. Do not even need to pretend that it represents reality.

In short: we expect things to be fake, and we enjoy the fakeness, because it is the norm.

And for this particular assignment, I thought I should try to stretch my understanding of a simulacrum.


Enter Taylor Swift.

Some people think her persona circa 2014 / "1989" era was genuine (I love my fans so much! Let's bring them to my house!), but to me, the whole celebrity culture has always been a culture of simulacra. Ms. Swift, (and along with Beyoncé, I would opine) happens to be the reigning queen of controlling her "narrative".

I expect celebrities to be perfect, polished, and unattainable yet relatable. They are not real and will never be real, but that's okay with me. I will still spend my money willingly on their work, as long as I can project my ideas on them and they can maintain the personas that I prefer.

Goofy-yet-modelesque T-Swizzle, I like. I volunteer to be one of your revenue sources.


So that brings me to the current "Taylor v. Kanye & Kim" feud and TS' culturally explosive Look What You Made Me Do.

Was the beef between them real?

No one can really know (but I bet not!), yet what I do know is that I enjoy them throwing shade and sabotaging each other, especially in the form of songs and music videos.

So the beef, that's the first layer of simulacrum.

The second layer of the simulacrum would then be LWYMMD (song & video), along with Taylor's entire new branding. While she tries to convince her audience to believe that "the old Taylor is dead" and she is renewed with unabashed vengeance, I think the work's significance is that of marketing and cultural impact, less about the feud and her becoming vengeful. All the symbolisms in the video can still be enjoyed regardless of the reality of the first layer of signifier (i.e. feud).


So how can I make the whole thing even more detached from reality?

My first idea was to re-cut Taylor's song with videogrep, to make her "sing" about how actually she likes Kanye. That would change her new narrative.

Unfortunately, videogrep's transcribe function didn't work well with Taylor's song. Here is a screenshot of the generated transcription:

Where did these word come from? Only the computer knows.

So I had to tweak my idea, and I decided to with make a very short remix of the song, but with Kim Kardashian West "singing" instead.

My take is that when we laugh at a parody of this song, it is an exercise on acknowledging:

  1. the fakeness of it all, and

  2. the ridiculousness of this culture of simulacra.

So here's the video, put together with videogrep (soundbite cuts), and After Effects (putting the song in, final exporting).

Kim KW's valley girl accent works wonders with videogrep <3


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