Postmodernism Is a Nebulous and Often Poorly Essay

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Postmodernism is a nebulous and often poorly defined term. There is nothing genuinely concrete that separates the cultural icons that are labeled as postmodern from those that are not. Satire, cynicism, sarcasm, and other common features of postmodern sensibility are nothing new. The best way to understand the essence of postmodernism is to distinguish it from modernism, which was particularly enamored with science. Postmodernism is "largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality," (PBS). Postmodernism embraces concepts such as social construction and other contructivist theories that suggest that there may be no absolute objective reality. Eastern philosophy has championed constructivism for thousands of years, making postmodernism seem derivative. Postmodernism has the potential to seem nihilistic, which is why Frederick Nietzsche is credited as being one of the forerunners of postmodern theory (Aylesworth). There is no absolute truth, religious path, or ethic, according to the postmodernist. The world is far too diverse and complex for there to be any absolutes.

When applied to the creative arts, postmodernism manifests in a variety of ways. One of the hallmarks of postmodernism is synthesis and pastiche (Keep, McLaughlin, and Parmar). Another is the impetus to defy convention (Salberg, Stewart, Wesley, and Weiss). Irony is also a ubiquitous quality in postmodern creative expression. The hit television show The Simpsons is emblematic of postmodern sensibility because it contains each of these three characteristics. The Simpsons is irreverent, poking fun of nearly everyone and everything. The Simpsons is a pastiche show that fuses lowbrow with highbrow humor. Irony, sarcasm, and poignant social criticism are also part and parcel of The Simpsons. The same can be said for other television shows that use animation as a medium, such as South Park and Family Guy. Each of these adult-oriented animated shows is postmodern in their bawdy but intelligent humor that at once respects and disrespects society. Kyle and Stan on South Park often…

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Works Cited

Aylesworth, G. "Postmodernism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. Retrieved online: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/postmodernism/

Keep, Christopher, McLaughlin, Tim, and Parmar, Robin. "Defining Postmodernism." Retrieved online: http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/elab/hfl0242.html

PBS. "Postmodernism." Retrieved online: http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengloss/postm-body.html

Salberg, Daniel, Stewart, Robert, Wesley, Karla, and Weiss, Shannon. "Postmodernism and its Critics." University of Alabama Department of Anthropology. Retrieved online: http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Postmodernism%20and%20Its%20Critics

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