From Armagideon Time:
TV Review: How I Met Your Mother finale
The Situationists held that alienation of the masses in the age of mechanized consumer capitalism sought refuge in “the spectacle,” an object-driven engagement with prefabricated diversions...the spectacle provides a substitute for authentic experiences (both individual and communal) while reinforcing the alienation of the beholder.
The solution for this problem, according to the Situationists, was to restructure society in ways that would encourage and produce outbreaks of spontaneous aesthetic sentiment...a utopian pipe dream which could only exist within the controlled climate of bourgeois bohemia. Like Ayn Rand’s half-assed theories about self-serving supermen, Situationist ideology was a luxury of privilege.
“We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dying of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom” – someone who never went to bed hungry.
Even if its theories could have been put into practice, the currents of history have washed away all traces of its foundational assumptions about an automated era free of want and burdened with an excess of free time...The post-war social contract was a product of labor shortages which forced concessions from capital. What it offered was a taste of “the good life,” just enough to instill existential dread about losing one’s small stake when the realities of neo-liberal economic policies manifested in earnest.
There would be no George Jetson future of one-hour push-button shifts, just endless cycles of desperate prostration at the altar of the oligarchs, with “the current economic climate” used to excuse all manner of sins. Give a man a health insurance plan, and he’ll be happy. Tell him his job will be outsourced if he doesn’t submit to a salary and benefits cut, and he will be scared supine.
The spectacle touches all and absorbs all. The anticipation of novelty resolves itself into a litany of tropes, yesterday’s anthems of rebellion used to score today’s overproduced Broadway pageants to nostalgia or peddle this year’s nostrums.
The framework of the "new electronic media" was compromised from the very beginning, both its physical and virtual platforms created or co-opted by the the very hegemons it was intended to bypass. Its heart beats to the schedule determined by media conglomerates. Its trappings are trademarked hand-me-downs or high concept scraps fished out of a previous generation’s dumpster.
In salutation or condemnation, both audience and critic are participants in the greater ritual. They have engaged the spectacle and thus accepted its framework as their own.
Whoops, I should’ve added a spoiler warning.