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ISSN: 1705-6411

Volume 4, Number 3 (October, 2007).

Special Issue: Remembering Baudrillard

The Deaths of Ernest Gallo, Jean Baudrillard, and Captain America1

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Captain America

Captain America

            According to legend, Ernest and Julio Gallo started their first winery in 1933. Using a $5,000 loan from Ernest’s mother-in-law and Julio’s savings of $900 the two brothers rented a cement warehouse in their home town of Modesto, California, and began making wines. With the help of a recipe they found in some prohibition-era leaflets in the basement of the Modesto library they made ordinary wines for the bargain price of 50 cents a gallon – half the going rate. In their first year in business, they made $30,000 and an empire was born.

            Pause, for a moment, to contemplate the meaninglessness of the so-called death of the irritatingly dense and famously obscure French intellectual Jean Baudrillard. In the Guardian we read:

Jean Baudrillard’s death did not take place. “Dying is pointless,” he once wrote, “you have to know how to disappear.” The New Yorker reported a reading the French sociologist gave in a New York gallery in 2005. A man from the audience, with the recent death of Jacques Derrida in mind, mentioned obituaries, and asked Baudrillard: “What would you like to be said about you? In other words, who are you?” Baudrillard replied: “What I am, I don’t know. I am the simulacrum of myself.”2


Baudrillard, whose simulacrum has departed at the age of 77, attracted widespread notoriety for predicting that the first Gulf war, of 1991, would not take place. During the war, he said it was not really taking place. After its conclusion, he announced that it had not taken place. This prompted some to characterize him as yet another continental philosopher who reveled in a disreputable contempt for truth and reality.

            Finally, we have America’s answer to the French Intellectual: the costumed superhero. Remove your cowl, clutch your cape to your heart, and stand with me, united in grief, over the senseless slaughter of Captain America. As a symbol of waning imperial power, it is unmistakable. Captain America, the stars-and-stripes wearing, blond and blue-eyed “pinnacle of human physical perfection”, is dead. The Marvel Comics superhero, aka Steve Rogers, was gunned down by a sniper in the latest installment of the comic.

            The death of the man who was rejected by the army because he was too scrawny, but went on to take a “super soldier serum” to turn him into the ultimate warrior, came as a blow to his creator, 93-year-old Joe Simon. “We really need him now,” Simon told the Associated Press on learning of the death of his creation. I’m wondering if they’ve checked alibis for the Justice League.

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1 A longer version of this obituary originally appeared on the website of the Raincoaster.com: http://raincoaster.com/tag/obituaries/


© International Journal of Baudrillard Studies (2007)

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