The Culture Industry : Enlightenment As Mass Deception By Adorno And Horkheimer

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Adorno and Horkheimer’s essay “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception” (1944) describes culture industries, such as film, radio, and magazines, as ideological mediums of domination that reduce consumers into passive subjects. As members of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory which critiqued post World War II Western modernity, Adorno and Horkheimer viewed the culture industry’s standardization and mass production as mechanisms of control under Capitalism, an economic system meant to maintain power among the wealthy. Similarly, Warren Susman’s essay” The People’s Fair: Cultural Contradictions of a Consumer Society” highlights the 1939 New York World’s Fair as a commodity meant to piece the public into a part of a…show more content…
Adorno and Horkheimer suggest ideology as the reason dominant culture industries are able to sustain themselves. They argue that “The culture industry tends to make itself the embodiment of authoritative pronouncements, and thus the irrefutable prophet of the prevailing order” (Adorno and Horkheimer 17). Thus, we can think of these “authoritative pronouncements” as methods Hollywood employs to sustain its dominance. By proclaiming a certain set of ideas which convinces the public that no other authority or ideas exist otherwise, Hollywood mystifies and obfuscates all other traces of thought. It normalizes its manipulation of the public by ostracizing other values and ideas outside the predominant notions of standardization and mass production.
We see this phenomenon with Hollywood’s growth from a domestic American film industry to transnational corporation dominating international markets. With a global box revenue of 38.6 billion (Faughnder), Hollywood’s multimillion-dollar empire is largely sustained by capitalism. A system which maintains itself based on the production, distribution, and exchange of mass-produced commodities by private corporations, capitalism is the cause of homogenization. Its motive to profit from the public is manifested in the monotonous mechanical reproductions of popular cultural products such as Hollywood’s iconic blockbuster films: Titanic, Star Wars, and Avatar. Time and again, this
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