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Fabricating the Absolute Fake

Fabricating the Absolute Fake: America in Contemporary Pop Culture

Jaap Kooijman
Copyright Date: 2008
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  • Book Info
    Fabricating the Absolute Fake
    Book Description:

    The pageantry of Oprah Winfrey's talk show, the Coca-Cola empire, Michael Jackson's turn from the King of Pop into an iconic global recluse: American pop culture - Hollywood cinema, television, pop music - dominates the rest of the world through its hegemonic presence. Does that make everyone a hybridized American, or do these elements find mediation within the other cultures that consume them? Fabricating the Absolute Fake applies concepts of postmodern theory - Baudrillard's hyperreality and Eco's "absolute fake," among others - to this globally mediated American pop culture in order to examine both the phenomenon itself and its appropriation in the Netherlands, as evidenced by such diverse cultural icons as the Elvis-inspired crooner Lee Towers, the Moroccan-Dutch rapper Ali B, musical tributes to an assassinated politician, and the Dutch reality soap opera scene. A fascinating exploration of how global cultures struggle to create their own "America" within a post-9/11 media culture, Fabricating the Absolute Fake reflects on what it might mean to truly take part in American pop culture. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-0121-2
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 7-8)
    Jaap Kooijman
  4. Introduction Fabricating the Absolute Fake
    (pp. 9-20)

    In 2006, Hasted Hunt Gallery in New York City hosted the exhibitionRain(2004), a series of six photographs by the Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf. Ken Johnson, art critic ofThe New York Times, described the photographs as “mysterious and touching,” suggesting that the pictures present “scenes that Norman Rockwell’s mordantly depressed cousin might have painted.” Yet, Johnson singled out Olaf’s photograph of a young Boy Scout with his dog in a 1950s ice cream parlor (which is also featured on the cover of this book) as an example in which “psychological resonance is sacrificed for the cheaper rewards of...

  5. Chapter One: We Are the World: America’s Dominance in Global Pop Culture
    (pp. 21-40)

    Of all the American pop-cultural products that are being consumed around the world, ranging from Hollywood films and Coca-Cola to television soap operas and hip-hop, the 1985 pop song “We Are the World” by USA for Africa is one of the most blatant examples of America’s dominance in global pop culture. A relatively simple charity pop song recorded by a group of American stars named the United Support of Artists (USA) can make such abstract notions as Americanization and globalization concrete. “There are people dying,” sings Stevie Wonder, without a doubt genuinely concerned about the starving Ethiopians in Africa. However,...

  6. Chapter Two: The Oprahification of 9/11: America as Imagined Community
    (pp. 41-66)

    On September 11 and 12, 2001, for the first time in its fifteen-year’ run,The Oprah Winfrey Showwas cancelled. The talk show resumed its daily broadcast on September 13 with an episode aptly entitled “America under Attack,” which was repeated the next day. The cancellation ofOprah!(as the talk show is most commonly referred to) fit the state of confusion that American television found itself in right after the terrorist attacks. On the one hand, 9/11 was a television event. From the moment the first plane hit the Twin Towers, millions of viewers around the world stayed glued...

  7. Chapter Three: The Desert of the Real: America as Hyperreality
    (pp. 67-92)

    On November 22, 1990, during the first Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush gave a pep talk to the American soldiers stationed near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. “Now, look, look, we know that the days can get pretty long out here, and you’ll be glad to know that if it goes on too long we have a secret weapon in reserve,” Bush joked. “If push comes to shove, we’re going to get Roseanne Barr to go to Iraq and sing the national anthem. Baghdad Betty, eat your heart out.”¹ Bush was referring to the controversial performance of the American national anthem...

  8. Chapter Four: Americans We Never Were: Dutch Pop Culture as Karaoke Americanism
    (pp. 93-118)

    “Dear wonderful, beautiful Europe. I know we’ve had our disagreements in the past, but I’m here to tell you, I have never stopped loving you Europe.” These words are spoken by President George W. Bush on January 26, 2005, at a special press conference in the Netherlands, broadcast on the television comedy showKopspijkers(VARA, 1995-2005). Then Bush starts to sing: “Maybe I didn’t treat you, quite as good as I should have. Maybe I didn’t love you, quite as much as I could have. I’m so sorry about Abu Ghraib, and Kyoto I should have signed. But you were...

  9. Chapter Five: The Dutch Dream: Americanization, Pop Culture, and National Identity
    (pp. 119-140)

    On July 27, 2005, the day after Mohammed B., the convicted murderer of the controversial Dutch filmmaker and columnist Theo van Gogh, was sentenced to life imprisonment, the Boomerang company released a free postcard featuring graffiti by Van Gogh’s teenage son.¹ Inspired by urban American hip-hop culture (often defined as African-American), the graffiti uses American iconography — the text “Theo Forever” in English, Donald Duck, and the prominently pictured American flag with the name Theo spelled out in little stars to provide a very personal expression of both remembrance and protest. On the one hand, the graffiti can be interpreted within...

  10. Conclusion: Let’s Make Things Better
    (pp. 141-146)

    “Let’s Make Things Better” (best pronounced with a heavy Dutch accent) is the former advertising slogan of the Dutch-based multinational company Royal Philips Electronics, used in its global advertising campaign. Allegedly, the Dutch Philips executive Cor Boonstra himself invented the slogan to inspire his employees on the work floor. Like its successor “Sense and Simplicity,” “Let’s Make Things Better” is hyper-American, not so much because it is coined in English, but because it refers to the American promise of a better, improved world, that American rhetoric of perpetual progress and positive change which works so well in advertising.¹ At the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 147-162)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 163-170)
  13. Index
    (pp. 171-180)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 181-181)