Jessica Laskey – The Culture Industry

Posted: January 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

As I read through the reading for today, I found several points that I would like to highlight and explore further. The first point I found interesting was how the culture industries view consumers as being sorted into categories. Once a consumer has been placed into a category, they are expected to fulfill their role and stay loyal to their category. Magazines have been created for car enthusiasts, athletes, chefs, moms, video game players and fashionistas. Since these magazines have been created, people who fall within any of these categories are expected to purchase the material item. It isn’t that these magazines have amazing content that people find intriguing. It is simply the fact that this magazine is about Ferrari’s, therefore any car enthusiast must own this magazine. Consumers are no longer expected to find products that they feel interested in, rather they are merely expected to stay with their categories and trust that material produced for them is what they want. 

The second idea I found interesting was how films are being deemed “a good film.” Adorno and Horkheimer believe that a movie can easily be assessed its quality by simply looking at how much money was spent when making it. Films that have a high budget, fancy special effects and hot-shot celebrities are destined for greatness. Take for example the Transformer movies. With big names like Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, outstanding special effects and a hefty budget these films were sure to succeed. I argue that on the other hand, low budget films with rookie actors/actresses can also succeed. My examples of this are the Paranormal Activity movies. These films are likely one of the most successful low-budget films to ever be produced. Even though they did not require millions of dollars to create, they were genuinely scary and attention grabbing which lead to their successfulness. 

The final aspect of this article I would like to address is the notion of reality vs. the movies. The line between these two things is becoming increasingly hard to decipher. With state-of-the-art cameras and technology, movie scenes are becoming more and more realistic. Based on personal experience, when I left the theatre after seeing The Expendables I was half expecting men with guns to jump out at me from every corner. These movies are so realistic that sometimes it becomes hard to tell the difference. Audience members can imagine a realistic world where the events taking place on screen can happen in real life, and this only adds to the blurriness of the line. 

  1. Leisha Senko says:

    I agree, it’s kind of insane that a lot of the categories or niche areas we are proud to belong in because we believe they set us apart are really just a different tentacle off of the main and same machine. I find these styles and categories that are global and ubiquitous to be super misleading and damaging to genuine ways of life that have grassroots, legitimate meaning. It seems we’ve grown so out of touch with the difference between appearance and content that we mistake one for the other. This reading, for me, really highlighted the fact that the culture industry co-opts real movements with substance and hearts, spits out something phoney and expensive, and changes the people who created it ticket admission (specifically accessories) in order to be deemed a ‘real’ part of it.

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