Multinational oil corporations trumpet their green credentials. Shadowy billionaires orchestrate ‘grassroots’ political movements. Public-spending cuts that target the poor are billed as ‘giving power to the people’. Casually dressed employees play table football in airy open-plan offices, but work longer hours than ever before.
These are just a few examples of the growing gap between appearance and reality in modern life. With the melting away of the conflicts between East and West and Right and Left, the old ideologies were supposedly consigned to history. But this book argues that they never really went away – they just went undercover, creating a looking-glass world in which reality is spun and crude vested interests appear in seductive new disguises. A world of illusion, persuasion and coercion which aims to conceal the truth and beguile us all. It’s time to radically alter the way we perceive the world, to raise a sceptical yet optimistic eyebrow.
Get Real is a passionate and entertaining guide to spotting and decoding the delusions we live under – from ‘revolutionary’ plus-size models to ‘world-saving’ organic vegetables; from heavily scripted and edited ‘reality’ TV to ‘life-changing’ iPhone apps. Busting the jargon and unravelling the spin, Get Real reveals the secrets about modern life that we were never supposed to know. It’s an insider’s guide to understanding the present which puts the truth and the power to choose firmly in our hands. Only by telling it like it is can we improve – and maybe even save – our world for real.
I am a writer, a senior lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, an associate research fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, and a former BBC radio producer. My book Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life is published by Fourth Estate. I have written for the Guardian, the London Review of Books, and the Times Literary Supplement, among other publications, and I speak at conferences, festivals and in the media about my ideas and research. I blog for the Huffington Post. I am interested in how political and corporate elites turn our reality upside-down, and how our
desires for progress and authenticity are co-opted and sold back to us as empty
brands – from fake people-power to cyber-utopianism, from oil-company greenwash
to mass-market organics. You can contact me via my Birkbeck webpage here.
Cultural and political critique rarely makes me laugh out loud. But then cultural and political critique rarely involves performing monkeys, interactions with turkey basters, levitating scissors or telepathic communications with William Blake. Times Higher Education
Supplement Thursday 9 October 2014 You can read the column here.