Popular Culture Review Vol. 28, No. 2, Summer 2017 - Page 99

simulacra that stand in for the real in popular consumer culture. At the onset, Wendy is ostracized for her refusal to abandon reality or to play a banal game whose artifice she longs to expose and eradicate. In Baudrillardian terms, the complicity of Wendy’s female classmates in the creation and transmission of hyper-real chimera illustrates “tous les périls de la libération sociale des femmes” ‘all of the perils of the social liberation of women’ (La Société de consommation 217). In a consumer society in which a ubiquitous code has superseded the real, the only way that women can reap the benefits of being perceived as sexy is to swim in the deluge of erotic simulacra that accost them from all sides by following arbitrary trends and purchasing all of the necessary accessories. As Baudrillard explains, “On vend de la femme à la femme […] la femme se consomme […] si la femme se consomme, c’est que sa relation à elle-même est objectivée et alimentée par des signes, signes qui constituent le Modèle Féminin, lequel constitue le véritable objet de la consommation” ‘We sell women to women […] a woman consumes herself […] if a woman consumes herself, it’s because her relationship to herself is objectified and feeds on signs, signs that constitute the Feminine Model, which constitutes a true object of consumption’ (La Société de consommation 138-139). Unless women are willing to lose their inner selves entirely in a self-referential network of simulacra that have no real referents, their beauty will not be recognized or valorized by men who scrutinize them on the basis of a sign. Moreover, the aforementioned conformist behavior of the young girls from South Park is indicative of a misguided attempt to live consumerist simulations or to breathe life into an image that was never anything more than an idyllic vision. Although some women might consider the act of manipulating men through seductive images to shower them with lavish gifts relatively harmless, Baudrillard exposes the nefarious effects of the advent of hyper-reality or an imaginary parallel universe where “there is no reality outside the image” (Mannathukkaren 419). A revealing scene from “The Hobbit” supports Baudrillard’s contention that symbolic fantasies are often deleterious. After Wendy shows Butters the picture of Lisa that she enhanced or distorted entirely, the young boy has a surprising reaction. Instead of understanding Wendy’s point that celebrity photos are retouched to such an extent that they bear little resemblance to the real, Butters exclaims, “That’s Lisa Burger, she’s hot […] Hold up, are you saying that girl wants to go out with me? And, I said no! I gotta upload this and buy her 94