‘…The laughter of an audience at a cinema… is anything but good and revolutionary; instead it is full of the worst bourgeois sadism’.

Theodor Adorno ‘Letter to Walter Benjamin’ Aesthetics and Politics

First and foremost this quote originally from Adorno was borrowed from this blog post which I tried to reblog but couldn’t: http://dialecticonline.wordpress.com/issue-08-summer-11/the-culture-industry/ 

I’ve been interested in Adorno’s work ever since I started studying Sociology about 4 years ago. I just feel that he makes a good argument which sums up popular culture and entertainment of today. Most of what I want to say reflects what is in the blog I linked to so I am not claiming that this is all my own knowledge. I only want to share the information and highlight key points I liked.

Adorno argued that true art forms have been replaced by imitations which take the form of cultural products. Culture has become commodified. Capitalism fuels society so by believing that popular culture has allowed us ‘the masses’ to progress towards creative democracy is a far shot from the truth. We are only blinded further and distracted from realizing our real social conditions.

Affability refers to the loss of human dignity and isolation which I find explains the forms of comedic entertainment which label inappropriate comedy as acceptable. I refer to some of these types of media in my blog. Most people go along with judgemental statements that contrast against their own values as this is portrayed as the norm in social life. Laughter becomes an illusion because it offers no freedom from the alienation that controls the lives of us, ‘the masses’. Disney films are particularly good at portraying the pain, inequality and unhappiness we experience in daily life which only helps to reinforce it. I feel that in this respect being able to ‘take your own punishment’ is the same as saying you should ‘be able to laugh at yourself’. 

Ultimately Adorno strives to unmask the false by seeking the ‘truth’ within the fiction we know as reality. We are exposed to a whole array of prejudice, racism and segregation which is accepted. Ultimately we can never truly be free or happy if we continue to buy into cultural products.

Is Disney truly a cultural product of the culture industry? : 

http://www.thesociologicalcinema.com/1/post/2011/11/disney-movies-and-the-culture-industry.html       

Who agrees with Adorno?

‘…The laughter …

Disney: Wait… what did I just hear??

Just to highlight my point about how dangerous the mainstream media can be in regards to hidden racism or racism presented as matter of fact or as lighthearted banter I would like to share this video. It’s a short segment taken from the Disney film Aladdin, which we are all familiar with.

Watching Disney films as a child was always fun for me, especially because of all the songs that were featured in them. Yet, not once did I ever actually -listen- to the songs and realise that those catchy songs sung by those lovable characters actually helped to portray negative stereotypes about men and women from the middle east. Now, I’m not saying that Disney has done this intentionally, but as Adults we can clearly see the harm of these hidden messages, especially how it may influence children’s thought. Yes, we may have laughed and sang along to these songs before but just be aware of the messages being spread.

The video focuses on the character Jafar. His long beard, dark eyes, turban and long dark gown not only play on his bad image as the villain in the film but represent a negative stereotype of Arabs as evil, barbaric people. Not only do they “cut off your ear” but they sing about it, why? Because it’s a norm where they call “home”! – What?? – Immediately when I saw this clip and heard those words I just remembered 911 and all the terrorist films and crude jokes that followed. After that horrific event everyone who was seen with a rucksack or big bag, with a full beard and ‘looked muslim’ was feared and hated. What I’m trying to emphasize is the point that stereotypes from the media do reflect back on society, and can change the behaviour and attitudes of individuals for the worst. The original poster of this video (hasanhd28 on youtube) made another interesting argument about how accents are used to convey good and evil and smart and dumb in Disney.