In the Desert of Desire

Vegas—the place everyone loves to go or professes to hate (or both). It’s both an experiment in the mutability of authenticity—bouncing between real fakes and fake fakes—and the “safe” destination of choice for those who don’t want to be inconvenienced with travel to “real” places. It’s a culture of carefully controlled spectacle, where mega-buck entertainment and the illusory pull of “winning” will always trump art. Vegas architecture, Steve Wynn’s art collection, the Guggenheim’s attempt to fake the museum, Siegfried & Roy, Mandalay Bay’s shark reef, fountains and lap dancers are contrasted with their environmental and non-profit alternatives. Although advertising’s pitch is that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, Fox correctly suggests that many a metaphor—from gaming to theming—has spread outward from Vegas.