Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 107

actual body on the street as a commoner or non-celebrity. In a society in which consumers endlessly attempt to procure metonymic pieces of symbolic fantasies, truth and meaning have no place. Underscoring the complicity of celebrity culture in the destruction of meaning in the context of Baudrillard’s philosophy and reality television, Kathleen Dixon and Daniela Koleva assert, “the […] hyperreal world of celebrity-it exists nowhere other than in mass-mediated images and the events staged around and through such images” (n.p.). Dixon and Koleva reiterate that the contrived images of stars, like the ones that Butters worships as the ideal of femininity, obfuscate “the ugliness of real celebrity lives and their real bodies” (n.p.). The aforementioned researchers reach the following conclusi on: “We won’t see Paris and Nicole in the bathroom of a nightclub shooting up drugs (in ‘real life,’ Nicole is said to be an addict), or barfing up their dinners to keep their Size 3 bodies” (Dixon & Koleva n.p.). Dixon and Koleva’s Baudrillardian analysis of celebrity culture helps to shed light on what is transpiring in “The Hobbit.” The inhabitants of South Park are captivated by the pervasive, simulated utopias that no one is actually experiencing. As Baudrillard highlights, the only way to understand their behavior is to enter a realm of hyper-real fiction far removed from the real. For this reason, Wendy attempts to point out that Kim Kardashian’s real body does not even vaguely resemble the skeletal ideal of feminine beauty in contemporary Western civilization. However, given that she is the only resident of this small Colorado town who recognizes the banality of idyllic simulacra that project a seductive image of femininity which is grounded in fantasy, no one is listening to her well- reasoned arguments. VI. ‘The Murder of the Real’ The somber dénouement of “The Hobbit” offers little optimism that the people from South Park will ever awake from their hyper-real slumber thereby dismissing absurd simulations of happiness and beauty. In fact, the ending of this episode reflects the phenomenon that Baudrillard terms “integral reality” in his later works such as The Gulf War Did Not Take Place, The Transparency of Evil, and The Intelligence of Evil. “Integral reality” is “the final stage of simulation” in which “we are caught up in a world of images that have lost their referents” (Barron 394; Penaloza & Price 127). As the philosopher theorizes, What we see now, behind the eclipse of the ‘objective’ real, is the rise of Integral Reality, of a Virtual Reality that rests on the deregulation of the very reality principle […] Reality 102