Sunday, February 5, 2012

Culture Industry is the "Same Old Drudgery"

Horkheimer and Adorno's article "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception" was a interesting rant on the culture industry, though by the end of it I imagined them as a couple of negative guys who were never allowed into the movies (or maybe just mad at being named "Horkheimer").  Despite all their negativity, I was caught by the idea of the "culture industry" working to achieve "standardization and mass production" (121).  In the article, Adorno and Horkheimer write about the culture industry offer an escape from the everyday, but that "... the paradise offered by the culture industry is the same old drudgery" (142). This got me thinking about the movie The Truman Show.

In the "The Truman Show," Jim Carrey plays "Truman" whose life is broadcast live on television for the world to see.  It's the epitome of reality TV being broadcast 24 hours a day, and unbeknownst to Truman, his entire life is both real and fictional -- from school to sunsets to relationships.  Truman struggles as he grows older to understand what is real and what is not real.
The viewers of the show were entertained by the repetitive, mundane, and seemingly real nature of Truman. I think the premise of this movie provides an extreme example of what Horkheimer and Adorno are referencing in their article.

Max Horkheimer & Theodor Adorno, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” in Dialectic of Enlightenment (New York: Continuum, 1969), 120-67. 

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