The exact definition of postmodernism is a subject of heated debate. Broadly defined, it describes everything following the so called modern historical period of the mid 20th century. Rapid advances in technology created an unprecedented upheaval in society, art, and culture, all of which have been associated with the postmodernist movement. Most consider postmodernism to be a literary and philosophical reaction to the optimistic Modernist ideals of progress and reason. Its works often take a dystopian or nihilistic view, where constant technological change and mediation rob us of our humanity and all things "real". One of its major themes is that everything has been done before and our culture is now a mass-produced mashup of recycled ideas and icons. While proponents see it as a liberating way to frame reality despite the inherent bias of language and media, its critics consider methods like deconstruction an intellectual cop-out. Despite the debate, there is no doubt that postmodern ideas have both reflected and shaped our world today.
Jean Baudrillard (1929 - 2007) Baudrillard was a sociologist who began his career exploring the Marxist critique of capitalism (Sarup 1993: 161). During this phase of his work he argued that, “consumer objects constitute a system of signs that differentiate the population” (Sarup 1993: 162). Eventually, however, Baudrillard felt that Marxist tenets did not effectively evaluate commodities, so he turned to postmodernism. Rosenau labels Baudrillard as a skeptical postmodernist because of statements like, “everything has already happened....nothing new can occur,” and “there is no real world” (Rosenau 1992: 64, 110). Baudrillard breaks down modernity and postmodernity in an effort to explain the world as a set of models. He identifies early modernity as the period between the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, modernity as the period at the start of the Industrial Revolution, and postmodernity as the period of mass media (cinema and photography). Baudrillard states that we live in a world of images but images that are only simulations. Baudrillard implies that many people fail to understand this concept that, “we have now moved into an epoch...where truth is entirely a product of consensus values, and where ‘science’ itself is just the name we attach to certain modes of explanation,” (Norris 1990: 169).