Retrieving Truth in a Post-Truth World

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  • Title: Retrieving Truth in a Post-Truth World: Drama in the Age of Reality Entertainment
  • Author(s): Carla Rocavert
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Post-Truth, Reality Entertainment, Drama, Violence, Play, Handmaid’s Tale, Black Mirror
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Rocavert, Carla. 2019. "Retrieving Truth in a Post-Truth World: Drama in the Age of Reality Entertainment." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 17 (1): 11-26. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v17i01/11-26.
  • Extent: 16 pages


The post-truth world is one in which the US President, in his first 100 days, reportedly misrepresented the truth almost 500 times. His administration has used phrases such as “alternative facts” and is known for “gaslighting” (the act of confusing and destabilizing an audience through persistent lying, misdirection, and contradiction). Much of this discourse has taken place on multi-billion-dollar social media platforms which profit from the spread of fake news and from which the illusion of a mass following is monetized, as the New York Times reported. This essay examines the issue of “post-truth” through two entertainment paradigms: a) reality entertainment, comprising citizen performance in news, social/new media, and reality television; and b) artistic performance in traditionally scripted drama. The aim is to compare the understanding and exploration of truth in both types of performance, linking the possibility of truth in drama to the ethical dimension of what is represented, and the level of critical freedom stemming from the dialogue created by the performance. Such “productive searches for truth” will be juxtaposed against the technological apparatus of modern dramatic forms in news, television, and online content, to establish how the loss of faith in truth is tied up in new trends of representation.