‘…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Adorno argued that true art forms have been replaced by imitations which take the form of cultural products.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? :
Who agrees with Adorno?