Monday, February 4, 2013

Art and Mass Culture

In Art and Mass Culture, Horkheimer argues for the independence of the individual and against the acceptance of mass culture. Its a  stance that's understandable at the time it was written.  He was, after all, an exiled, Jewish,intellectual during the time of extreme European nationalism, and seeing this rising wave of blind culture crushing the individual and moving toward a united nefarious goal. But it’s a thought that retains its merit today. He argues that mass culture creates art that leaves only the opportunity for a single reaction to it. Historically art was associated with a time and place, intertwined with the society that had created it and capable of speaking independently to viewer. In his opinion, mass communication destroys this level of intimacy. I think this can be seen today, in that we use mass media as the lense through which to view the world. Mass media is today, much like in Horkeimer’s time an, “unrestricted accommodation of the people to what the amusement industry things they like.” So that we are being told what is good, or right, or beautiful and slowly losing the capacity to discover and interpret creations for ourselves. He quotes Dewey in his description of what is lacking today, “indifference to response of the immediate audience is a necessary trait of all artists that have something new to say.”
His argument is against state fascism but I think it can be applied today to gatekeepers of opinion and the creators media consumables.

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