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Alumnus writer explores the how the development of the digital world affects the real world

March 22, 2013
AV Club

Douglas Rushkoff on Khaleesi Lady Gaga and why Sopranos’ end works but Lost’s doesn’t

by Dan Solomon

Since the mid-’90s, Douglas Rushkoff has been writing books of media theory, works of fiction, and graphic novels in an attempt to explain the ways the development of the digital world affects what we might have once referred to as the real world. (His 1996 book, Media Virus!, helped popularize the term “viral media.”) His recent work with DC Comics’ Vertigo line—including the short-lived series Testament and the original graphic novel Adolescent Demo Division—has explored similar themes using the form of mainstream comics. In his latest book, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, Rushkoff offers what may be his most sweeping critique of the current culture: the theory that we live in a “presentist” culture that, thanks to the immediacy of digital technology, keeps us obsessed with what’s happening now, at any given moment. In the first section of the book, Rushkoff posits that one of the forces responsible for this is what he calls “narrative collapse,” or the idea that our most popular films, television shows, and more encourage us to live in an eternal present. The A.V. Club caught up with Rushkoff during a busy SXSW appearance to learn how Lost and Game Of Thrones perfectly capture our desire to see unending narratives, why the hipster archetype has endured for so many years, and how Lady Gaga is the Khaleesi.

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