One of the most familiar of Zizek's concepts is interpassivity, the way that an object does something for us, enabling us to remain passive. So, Zizek's vcr can tape a bunch of movies, watching them in Zizek's stead. Recent discussions with students have reminded me how useful this concept is. It's particularly useful for thinking about contemporary outrage.
For the past several months, 24/7 news media has repeated that the American people are outraged (imagine typical Jon Stewart mash up of relevant samples). We are outraged about the economy, the bailout, Wall Street salaries, Obama's missing birth certificate, Miss America, swine flu, taxes, and torture. But the weird thing is that there are not massive rallies in the streets. People are not storming the White House or Wall Street, for that matter. Why?
My hypothesis: blame Glen Beck and Keith Oberman. Blame Counterpunch and whatever right wing net-based publication you want. These folks are outraged for us. They are outraged in our stead, enabling us to retain our general passivity. Extreme media, in other words, doesn't stir us up: it stirs for us.
(cross-posted from I Cite)