The revolution of culture industry and Theodor Adorno’s theories

The culture industry is a thesis proposed by Frankfurt School duo Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer. It contends that cultural industries exist to enforce the capitalists. Adorno took a long and careful look at society and culture then concluded it was “a giant vacuous hole of despair and hopelessness.”

  • The more difficult something is to reproduce, the more is it fetishized and sustained.
  • As culture is used by capitalism to control the individual consciousness, so too does it become industrialized and commodified.
  • Where art was once also a commodity, in a capitalism it is to all extents a commodity and is often successful through the evocation and manipulation of desires.

Adorno and Horkheimer coined the expression culture industry to replace the concept of mass culture, which they felt had a semantic odds with the truth. “Industry” does not necessarily refer to industrial production, although many works of culture commodification do indeed define it in this way. Rather, it implies to standardization and pseudo-singularity of cultural items, and to the regulation of how they are promoted and distributed.

Effects of capitalism

Results of a capitalist system are the consequences of its design. Despair at the manipulation of people by other people in the 20th century society, but capitalism has great facility in handling all alternatives to itself. Frankfurt School were skilled in discerning the flaws in society but were less adept at finding a proper and sufficient replacement for it. Perhaps capitalism will be crushed under the weight of its own cultural trash, but it’s likelier that mass culture will continue to perpetuate itself. And this seems legit, for a greedy consumer has little use for gathering taste.

Adorno was a seminal figure for the Frankfurt School

Adorno was a seminal figure for the Frankfurt School

Analyzing Adorno’s theories

Products of mass culture would not be praised if people did not enjoy them or badly used them, and that culture is self-ruling in its administration. It would deny Adorno’s contemporary political significance, disputing that politics in robust society is much more concerned with action than with thought. Younger generation of critical theorists largely overlook Adorno’s work which is difficult to interpret. Adorno was incapable to outline practical verdict from his theories. Adorno is also accused of a lack of consistency in his claims to be implementing marxism. Even though he accepted the classical marxist analysis of society showing how one class exercises domination over another. Adorno’s approach that the mass of the people are only objects of the culture industry is related to his feeling that the time when the working class could be the ingredients of overwhelming capitalism is over. Some critics of Theodor Adorno have even called his ideas as “incomprehensible” because they are so dense and sophisticatedly constructed. We as the audience need time to evaluate the subject, to think upon it, and achieve some conclusions about the piece.

Adorno acknowledged that any widely-known piece of culture has always possessed a commercial aspect. Products of the culture industry on the other hand “are no longer also commodities”, they are “commodities through and through.” Art is no longer pursued but instead people are upbeat to gain profit by doing research of demographics and targeting audiences. Everything that made art has been terminated considering the importance of landing high audience reception and money by prostituting itself and contaminating its audience.

Examples in real life

If the cultural products lose their sense of meaning, purity, and authenticity because of their mass-production, who happens to the individuals who buy into these commodities ? Imagine yourself walking into a Samsung store looking to buy the new Samsung Galaxy Note II due to its overrated and exaggerate publicity in mass media (TV, newspapers, internet, radio), under the awareness that you already have another multi-functional smartphone Samsung Galaxy S III in your pocket, isn’t it irony ? This is what I call “buying new trendy thing”, it’s a disease in this 21st century society. Humans would never fulfill their satisfaction.

My verdict

We, as the consumers are being victimized by the producers and therefore we no longer have the genuine and original feeling when purchasing new goods because the products are being mass-produced. We simply don’t have the experience again of “look at this sh*t that I just got, it’s awesome !”

The society we live in is like a gold mine for innovators. There are techniques which the innovators can use to exploit this condition, these including satire and irony, manipulation of mass media (how they publicize their products), independent production, and alternative distribution to cut the cost.

People queueing up outside an Apple store, such an irony

People queueing up outside an Apple store, such an irony

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