Reality TV Casting as Auto-Consumption

“…the use value of immaterial commodities cannot be destroyed in consumption in the same way as the use value of material commodities can. A material commodity ultimately becomes worn down, and in the end useless. A sign commodity cannot be destroyed in the act of consumption in the same way. It can only be destroyed or consumed by other signs. This is where fashion as a phenomenon becomes utmost important for the producton of economic surplus value in sign economies. It can therefore be argued that the main purpose of fashion is not to point to novelties, or ‘aesthetic innovation’…. The main purpose is to destroy sign value. At the moment of destruction, with the attack of the new sign commodity on the old through release of next years’ fashion (next pop music icon, the next film star), last year’s creations become realised, and we enter a new circuit. Furthermore, the destruction by fashion of the sign value in the consumption process is not by the hand of consumers, but by producers (thus making it productive consumption). The destruction of value becomes an effect of the system, which then becomes self-generating. What we face with the advent of fashion is the self-sufficient system; fashion as auto-consumption. We are faced with signs consuming other signs.” (p. 301)

Göran Bolin, “Notes From Inside the Factory: The Production and Consumption of Signs and Sign Value in Media Industries” SOCIAL SEMIOTICS 15.3 (2005): 289-306.


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