|It's like faking a bank robbery, to use Baudrillard's example - you might think it's a huge joke, with your masks and your guns you won't fire (whether they are fakes or real ones "for the sake of accuracy" that you won't fire) but everybody else will treat it as a real robbery, thereby making your fake robbery a very, very dangerous thing to do - just as dangeorus as a real robbery.|
I don't think that's right though - that is, I don't think that's what Baudrillard is saying. This from Simulacra and Simulations, which should really be the name of an RPG:
But the difficulty is in proportion to the peril. How to feign a violation and put it to the test? Go and simulate a theft in a large department store: how do you convince the security guards that it is a simulated theft? There is no "objective" difference: the same gestures and the same signs exist as for a real theft; in fact the signs incline neither to one side nor the other. As far as the established order is concerned, they are always of the order of the real.
Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the "truth", so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won't succeed: the web of art)ficial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that's exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.
That is, you can't simulate a hold-up, or rather all hold-ups are simulated in the sense that they are replications of a codified series of interactions and expectations characteristic of a hold-up, but you can't create a simulated hold-up, because reality makes it real. A simulacrum is a replication of something that doesn't have a real existence any more - a copy the connection of which to the thing of which it is a copy has been broken. So, perhaps the simulacrum of a bank robbery would be one performed entirely under controlled conditions - where every participant in or witness to the action was aware that this was not actually a hold-up. Or, perhaps more interestingly, believed that it was not. More interesting than Baudrillard's formulation - try committing a simulated crime in a world which believes that the actions of crime connote real crime - is maybe trying to commit a crime which nobody thinks is a crime. I'm reminded of the "sip-ins", and the way that they played with the way that the same act of serving three or more men drinks was or was not a criminal offence.
Paris Hilton, meanwhile, seems a victimless crime. But is she a simulacrum? To say that she is seems to presuppose that there is a real or pure celebrity which she is in some way recreating but in a way devoid of the values with which celebrity interacts with the world, or similar. Or possibly that she is a simulacrum in the sense that she is a celebrity, but not actually a human being, maybe - that is, that she's like the hold-up where everybody believes there is no hold-up; she is a Paris Hilton where everybody believes there is no Paris Hilton...