Monday, March 28, 2011

French Sports and Tourism Media

Isabella Aballi

Screened Out: The Racing Drive and His Double – Jean Baudrillard

Baudrillard delves into the nature of Formula One racing and the ways in which the sport has morphed into a spectacle that is merely a performance. Baudrillard believes that we live in an “era of Performance” and that Formula One is a prime example of it. Formula One is a performance because “the heights achieved are the work of man and machine simultaneously” combined and essentially blurred because technology “pushes man to his limits and man

identifies with technology and projects his passions into it”—it is a “spectacular sacrifice.”

Competition does not take place in th

e actual circuit of the race it takes place “on the world car market, in the drivers’ popularity charts, in advertising and the star system”—it only appears to be a competition on television. Baudrillard says that the real pleasure of driving has diminished and is almost nonexistent because of the shift from movement to speed—the movement of the body to the screen of speed which creates only a passion for winning and nothing else.

Other than a passion for the winning, Formula One racing has created a passion for accidents and death. “Death is no longer anything but a virtual imaginary element. Only the cars die, only the engines are driven to destruction.” The abstract nature of racecar driving has attached spectacle to death—everyone is waiting for an accident even though showing it “live” on TV is unheard of; the possibility is what exites the public.

Baudrillard states that the “impact of Formula One lies in the exceptional and mythic

character of the event of the race and the figure of the driver and not in the technical or the commercial spin-offs.” According to Baudrillard, Formula One is a monster concentrated on technology, money, ambition, and prestige—it is purely an event.


Tourism and Consumer Culture: Club Med - Ellen Furlough

Club Med is regarded as the “confluence of commerce and culture within commercial tourism.” It was founded by Gerard Blitz in 1950 who wanted to promote the idea of self-indulgence, physical pleasures and an escape from the real world and ones everyday habits. Club Med villages were originally founded as an escape from the war; the villages were low budget and extremely low key. People slept in U.S. army surplus tents and gathered to play improvised games and sports. Even the atmosphere at Club Med was very casual and the informality and relative lack hierarchy reflected the personality of the founder and the people who worked at Club Med.

In the mid 1950’s, Club Med began to expand rapidly and adopted a new approach to business thanks to Gilbert Trigano, “a former communist who became involved with Club Med because of his family’s camping supply business.” In the late 1950’s Club Med was already regarded as a commercial organization that started buying out competitors and increasing profits across its many sites.

In 1965 Club Med opened its first luxury hotel in Morocco and soon became a “large, multinational corporation and one of the major players in the commercial tourism and leisure industry.” One of Club Med’s major appeals was the spirit or “esprit du Club” that adopted three major elements:

1) To be diametrically different from everyday life and to provide ‘mental and physical detoxification—The Club Med villages were isolated from any kind of outside distractions and tourism. There was emphasis on the idea that you “entered” and “left” Club Med giving it a utopian feel that made the village more disconnected and a world of its own.

2) Erasing social barriers and distinctions—The Club Med villages encouraged the use of “tu” among the people to create a more familiar vibe; they also called each other by their first names and avoided any conversations pertaining to position, status or occupation outside of the village. Another aspect that erased social barriers was the relaxed dress code that made it hard to distinguish people’s cultures or classes through bathing suit and beach apparel.

3) An emphasis on leisure and play—Club Med sought to eliminate any traces or appearances of work in the villages in an attempt to erase the frustrations and anxieties that are brought upon people through work. Club Med provided ease and leisure.

Club Med also became quite famous for its relaxed encouragement of sexuality freedom among the people which made it a very attractive site for vacation in the 60s and 70s.

Although Club Med emphasizes its ability to eliminate social distinctions, "like other aspects of consumer culture, [Club Med] (re)invented social distinctions" because it was predominantly constructed by and for "white, economically advantaged Europeans and some Americans."

"Club Med also reinforced and in some cases re-invented social hierarchies between people in the villages and in host countries." Club executives chose locations for the different Club villages due to "exotic" locations that were low cost and evidently became "objects of a reconfigured colonialist adventure that could be purchased."

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