Marxist Cultural Theory Essay

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This chapter examines two forms of practice that communicate messages from a group or an individual to the public, cultural production and political public speaking in the light of Marxist cultural theories. The review of writings about the practice of art by mid-20th century Marxist thinkers makes one thing clear - aesthetic utterances by artists and cultural figures fulfil a role in the political and social discourse and the importance of this role within the context of class struggle must not be ignored. The role of aesthetics as viewed by Marxist theorists such as Adorno and Horkheimer is to educate and inspire the public to live a life more worthy of living. (Adorno, 2006, p. 39) This chapter argues that cultural practitioners have a…show more content…
This claim suggest that analysis of political speaking should take into account the political weight of its aesthetic aspects. The examination of the social role of aesthetic production starts with a review of Adorno on mass produced art, and in particular cinema. Jean Luc Godard's cinematic work is then used to demonstrate Brecht's alienation theory. The alienation concept is reviewed and juxtaposed with Lukács' theories of social realism. Finally, these analyses of aesthetic practice are applied to the aesthetic form (namely rhetoric) of a political rally, to show that the messages communicated through the form of political speaking should not be overlooked in favour of the content alone. 1. Adorno on Cinema 'Every visit to the cinema leaves me, against all my vigilance, stupider and worse.' (Adorno, 2006, p. 25) Adorno, in a letter to Walter Benjamin, calls the Marxist ego-driven refusal at that time to accept cinema as a cultural object a 'bourgeois reaction' (Adorno & Horkheimer, 2007, p. 123) Adorno considered that cinema has great potential as 'its elements, no matter how abstract, always retain something representational; they are never purely aesthetic values.' (Witkin, 2003 , p. 147) These quotes put forward Adorno's realisation of the complex relationship between publicly accessible art such as cinema, and the
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