Sunday, June 9, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
From waking up in the morning and getting dressed to the way in which you consciously express yourself, it is a fair claim to make that identity is constructed and performed.
A strange phenomena exists where performed identity (and hence, perceived identity) cannot be separated from an individual's inherent identity, despite the fluidity and variety that exists in fashioning the body in contemporary society.
It is easy to see that authenticity is a large factor in many public spheres (particularly within fashion) - blogging, brand names and the very mantra of 'being yourself', to name a few.
Phrases regarding authenticity of speech and consumer choice are commonly encountered - it is an era in which the real is craved, because real is good, and fake is bad. However, the concept of the 'real' is not so simply defined. In consuming representations, paradigms are set and reinforced - in short, reality is constructed. Although barriers between class may not be as overt due to democratisation, they still exist in more subtle and perhaps more damaging ways. Branded goods become a signifier for luxury, wealth and status. Replicas are seen to not be as good as the real thing, despite appearing and performing the same as their more expensive counterparts. As such, it could be argued that we live in a society where 'real' or 'authentic' is now valued at the top of a hierarchical power structure.
Often bloggers are criticised or praised based on their ability to validate their authenticity through the selection of sponsored gifts - people like to be sold things, but perhaps not at face value. By approving 'being yourself' and 'having your own identity', the goal may ultimately be to foster individualism (but not too much). This being said, fashion/style blogging generates the most revenue from having a large readership in order to perpetuate a certain style where objects can be sold - thus bringing the reader to a similar material status, yet in doing this have contributed to such a consumer cycle.
Post-modernity gives rise to the multiplicity of styles and genres found in today's society, thus making identity more fragmented and amorphous than ever before. Media culture often illustrates a nostalgia for the past due to its inherent authenticity - if something is 'vintage' or 'original', it immediately signifies ideas that more care has gone into the production of an object as opposed to a product of fast-fashion (even though such products themselves may be outsourced for cheaper production). Cultural nostalgia has also been commodified in the pretence of authenticity - for example, Jean Paul Gaultier's S/S 2013, a highly referential collection plays on a widespread cultural knowledge of iconic pop stars for marketing purposes. The same could be said about any collection which references the past - how many times has 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s come back into fashion? Even the past has been mediated and represented, modifying what is 'real' in terms of historical authenticity.
Does this then mean that authenticity itself, through such perpetuation, becomes a performance in itself? Every individual by taking part in cultural processes directly or indirectly is influenced and as such, becomes an actor within the performance of identity. Even 'anti-fashion' or people who claim not to care about fashion cannot escape it - wearing something you found lying around your house says something about you - rarely does anyone ever go outside naked, and as such, the clothes you fashion yourself with already speak volumes about your identity. It might be an overused cliche, but the "You Think This Has Nothing To Do With You" monologue in the Devil Wears Prada cleverly depicts the widespread influence of fashion within social spheres - even if you think it has nothing to do with your own consumer choice, it really does.
Fashion becomes increasingly more complex as time continues, ideals are blurred and shifting, and grappling for the authentic becomes one that persists today. Fashion itself requires desire as a medium in which to propagate myth and solidify consumer action - does this inherent perpetuation of inequality make democratic fashion ultimately unviable?