On the Society of Appearance
We examine the Pandoro case involving Chiara Ferragni, as it serves as an opportunity to shed light on the shallowness prevalent in modern communication. Beyond its facade, it conceals a fraudulent side often overlooked. Although we value independent thinking, so influencers are not for us, it seems people love them.
Ferragni collaborated with Balocco, resulting in a pandoro, usually priced around 4€, sold for approximately 9€, promising a portion to charity. Despite a previous donation of 50 thousand euros by Balocco, no additional proceeds were given. Journalist Selvaggia Lucarelli raised concerns about misleading advertising. So, the case exploded. Yesterday, with fake-natural makeup and donning a grey shirt against a neutral backdrop, the influencer apologized in tears on her social media account.
Paolo Ercolani: highlighting the broader context
Amidst this controversy, Paolo Ercolani, a philosopher and Professor at the University of Urbino, provided insights in “Il Fatto Quotidiano.” His article unveiled the true nature of social media, and we couldn’t agree more. In fact, the Professor does not judge the influencer herself or her misleading advertising practice. Specifically, he directs attention to the broader contexts enabling deceptive practices and influencers to thrive.
We quote Paolo Ercolani:
“What is deceptive is rather what Guy Debord called in 1967 the ‘society of the spectacle,’ in which ‘the truth is a moment of the false’ and the spectacle itself turns out to be ‘the affirmation of appearance and the affirmation of human life, that is, social life, as a simple appearance.’ Ercolani adds, Debord tells us no more than this: ‘What appears is good, and what is good appears.'”via “Il Fatto Quotidiano”
Ercolani emphasises that Ferragni has already triumphed. Whether erroneous or deceitful, her actions have catalysed immense media attention. She has won because people buy – in huge quantities – products she endorses. Categories like truth or falsehood have become fluid in our society, like other categories.
According to Debord, Ercolani writes, “The spectacle subjugates living men to itself to the extent that the economy has totally subjugated them.”
Modern capitalism was based on a “degradation of being into having,” while postmodern capitalism transitioned from ‘having’ to ‘appearing’ – where those who appear gain, and those who gain, appear.
Eventually, Ercolani pinpoints two prerequisites for this lucrative system:
First, a passive public opinion reduced to connected automatons devoid of critical thought.
Second, an inadequate political class, ‘boiled’ and kneeling to the dictates of finance. Therefore, unable to counteract this trend.
Modern communication and capitalism
Modern communication in the hands of a few people fosters misleading practices. Unfortunately, charities (and non-profits) are the new frontier of capitalism, another way to make money.
The solution? Since the political and corporate realms prioritise power and profit, we do not trust them much. However, we believe education stands as a beacon for enlightenment and change.
So, we thank “Il Fatto Quotidiano” and Prof. Ercolani for their insightful analysis. But also for introducing us to Guy Debord and his “The Society of the Spectacle.” It prompts us to explore its contemporary relevance.
Ultimately, we hope the Pandoro case serves as an eye-opener, urging a reevaluation of our perceptions.