The specular meme demands: describe yourself in three fictional
characters. The meme demands a cultural self-portrait. Who do you see
yourself in and does your audience of followers agree?
This chapter proceeds from and builds upon the
Althusserian and Lacanian theoretical foundation regarding the
constitution of the subject through language and institutions. I
begin with the argument that the sitcom serves as a technology
within the televisual apparatus as a mode of interpolation. In
occupying the role of critic, I intend to work through the “task of
rhetorical construction the temporary fixing and stabilizing of
discourse to reveal its location in social space and relations of
power” (Cloud 150). The trend of association and identification
within the fictional character meme demonstrates how materialist
pop culture functions as both a mirror for the desires of public
consumption and as the driving force behind production. As a
certain someone would say, “the map precedes the territory”
(Baudrillard “Simulation” 166).
As a ubiquitous method of sociocultural construction and
consumption, fictional television propels innovation and shapes
the behaviors and attitudes of its market (Kellner 231). Networks
produce content designed to be appealing enough for audiences to
seek it out; concurrently, the discerning public develops its
personal taste for products through an affective relationship with
programming. Building on Barthe’s notion of textual mediation,
Ann Kaplan describes “the fictive text as necessarily constructing
the subject in the processes of reception” (Kaplan 25). Subject
formation and cultural consumption are intimately tied; Sitcoms,
like memes, mediate and reflect “‘micropolitical’ worlds of identity,
relationship, consumption” (Johnson 38).
If we accept Douglas Kellner’s definition of contemporary
identity as a series of “social constructs, arbitrary notions which
serve to mark and call attention to certain phenomena and which
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