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17 OCTOBER 2008

Situationist cinema attempt to critique capitalist consumption practices

"Debord's mode of cinematic situation construction owes much to Marx's understanding of the relationship between production and alienation, especially as articulated in the Economico-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. For Marx, the commodification of labour in a capitalist society means the loss of reality for the worker; in turn, the subsequently produced commodity ensures her simultaneous loss of and bondage to the object produced. Situationist cinema reverses this trend by refusing to produce any new filmic 'work', any reified artifact for consumption whose potential exchange value might negate the use-value acquired in its spatio-temporal projection and the subsequent construction of an indeterminately meaningful event.

Debord picks up Marxian concepts that the Marxist tradition hitherto had all but ignored, frequently echoing Marx's conclusion that alienation appears as the true induction into civil life, and, even more significantly, his observation and critique of 'commodity fetishism' in capitalist society. (3) The spectacle, Debord argues, thrives on the repetition of commodity form, reinvesting the structure with seemingly new products and images. By compiling image after image of the commodification of life by consumer capitalism (female bodies, political figures, product advertisements, popular films, and so on), his films expose this oppressive repetition and artificial sense of the new, and, as if to help along one of the most problematic concepts in Marx's work, Society of the Spectacle (1973) ponders the commodity's 'metaphysical subtleties' while sequentially imaging automobile showrooms and naked cover girls."

(Ricky Crano, 2007)

Crano, R. (2007). "Guy Debord and the Aesthetics of Cine-Sabotage." Senses of Cinema.

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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