Archive for September, 2010

“To be pleased means to say Yes”

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by zuzunic

The “culture industry” concept explained by Horkeimer and Adorno it’s not very different from the propaganda model discussed by Herman and Chomsky. The “culture industry” stressed the idea that the mass media is creating one culture that carries within all the characteristics of an industry in the liberal economy. They work with terms like utilities and products, and consumers are qualified in categories and income groups. In this “culture” the consumer cannot question anything, “(the man) has to accept what the culture manufacturers offer him…there is nothing left for the consumer to classify”, Horkeimer and Adorno said.  Every movement or style is calculated, ready for going out to the market place. Art and entertainment weigh the same, “subordinating in the same way and to the same end all areas of intellectual creation”, the authors affirm and they sustain then, the idea that the result of the “culture industry” is a “constant reproduction of the same thing”.

Here is where their idea is closer as the Herman and Chomsky’s propaganda model. Horkeimer and Adorno: “The stronger the positions of the culture industry become, the more summarily it can deal with consumers’ needs, producing them, controlling them, disciplining then and even withdrawing amusement: no limits are set to cultural progress of this kind”. In this way, if we add the elements of the propaganda model we can have the complete scene in our heads. The news “filters”(the size of the mass-media firms, advertising as key income source, reliance on information from government, business and experts, flak and anticommunism) named by the authors, could work for a better understanding of how the “culture industry” control the production of meanings, the information in which common people trust for comprehend the world where they are living.

After the readings, everything looks more paranoid and conspiratorial that I thought it was. The idea of Mc Luhan about “the medium is the message” seems closer as the “money is the message”, the bigger medium that works overall information, culture and entertainment which invites to its game corporations, governments, banks and all kind of manipulative players. “To be pleased means to say Yes”, (Horkeimer and Adorno)


Mass media, mass deception?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by kaseymccormick

Herman and Chomsky break down the propaganda model away from the totalitarian regimes with which we often associate that word.  Today in the US mass media is, for the most part, privatized.  They insist though, that a propaganda model is still at play and lay out the 5 elements that influence it (concentrated ownership/profit orientation; basis in advertising; beats/sources that end up reinforcing big government/business; feedback as flak; and fear of communism).  As I read through this, I found the majority of it to be spot on.  The only real contention I have is with their fifth point regarding communism, but when keeping in mind that they were writing in 1988, one can easily substitute in a fear of being un-American (and all that entails in the Fox News/Palin red state subculture that has sprung up in recent years) and their comments translate fairly well to now. 

Where Herman and Chomsky had an organized outline of how media functions in modern day America, Horkheimer and Adorno gave us a rant.  Quite a bit of pent up rage in these two, right?  I found their bleak outlook on humanity’s consumption of media insulting –I think that they vastly underestimate the intelligence of their audience and seem to want to go back to a golden era that I don’t think ever really existed.  Yes, there is undoubtedly a culture industry at play; in my opinion, no, people aren’t fools for being part of it.  Instead of blanket critiques and far reaching condemnations, I much preferred the Herman/Chomsky for their solid breakdown of the elements at play in media.  After all, if it’s deception that Horkheimer and Adorno are so concerned with, better to spend one’s time analyzing the system and understanding the big picture than nitpicking the details.

Culture and Media

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by jamilaw

Horkeimer and Adorno define the “culture industry” as an umbrella that manufactures everything “the whole world is made to pass through the filter.” (75) of.  They said it “molded men as a type unfailingly reproduced in every product.” (75) In essence, the culture industry is all things entertainment that society looks toward to guide how they live.  It is an influencing factor in everything we do.  Throughout the article Horkeimer and Adorno identify different aspects of the culture industry and the blur that arises between it and society.  From the evolution of the telephone to the radio and how we turned from “subjects” to “listener” exposed to the same messages. Or how movies and real life are becoming “indistinguishable” in how the audience is forced to experience what is happening as though it is a reality.  To be a part of the culture industry it is mentioned that an individual must be robbed of their functions.  This is extremely true.  To be part of an in crowd it is expected that you give up a bit of yourself and conform to whatever is ‘in’ at the moment. There does seem to be a major “gap between the chorus [the followers] and the leaders.” (78)

For Herman and Chomsky, the media industry also controls and influences the population through force-feeding its agenda to us.  Through its propaganda model, we are told, sold and turned away from what the media wants us to see or not to see.  Because of the mass media being owned by a select few, it seems as though it’s easier for it to be directed in a certain way to influence its audience.  The idea of propaganda relates to “the medium is the message,” because of the way propaganda is being broadcasted to the audience.  Those in charge of the message they want you to receive are targeting the audience in specific ways through advertising or just through complete control of the media you take in, where the content is manipulating but brought to you through larger channels.

Culture Industry

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by bbcarlsonn

When reading the piece by Adorno and Horkheimer, I was struck by a greater sense of doom than with Herman and Chomsky.  The Culture Industry produces a series of “ready-made clichés” (74) presented as works of art.  Society is unaware that the individual works presented are only manufactured copies of one another, and they are used to perpetuate the passivity of society.  The window for imagination has been closed and we have been conditioned how to respond to any and all cultural products: “All the other films and products of the entertainment industry which they have seen have taught them what to expect; they react automatically” (75).  The Culture Industry is a tool of manipulation that renders society brainwashed and stripped of agency.

Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda model is a set of filters through which media is passed before it is ultimately received by the public.  Journalists may believe they are being objective, and the public believes they are receiving the objective, but once information has passed through the five filters, all that is left is the “cleansed residue fit to print” (280).  This article struck me as more of an issue of awareness rather than, regarding The Culture Industry, the inability to react with any agency at all.

With McLuhan’s concept of The Medium is the Message, the content of the media consumed is obsolete.  The relationship between you and your TV is more important than the programs you watch on TV.  With The Culture Industry and the Propaganda model, the relationship between the medium and the audience is important, but content also plays a role.  According to both texts, the pared down, “cleansed” content is a tool used by a wealthy elite to manipulate the masses into passivity.

Adorno and Horkheimer

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by mariag77

According to Adorno and Horkeimer, I think that culture industry refers to the standardization of cultural items and the regulation of how they are promoted and distributed in the capitalist system. It controls and influences populations because it unifies culture “by subordinating in the same way and to the same end all areas of intellectual creation; by occupying men’s senses from the time they leave the factory in the evening to the time they clock in again the next morning that bears the impress of the labor process they themselves have to sustain throughout the day”. For the authors this results in a mass deception because the routine consumption of mass culture impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves.

Horkheimer, Adorno, Herman and Chomsky

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by nicksporter1

Both of the required articles this week, for me, evoke similar thoughts about the structure of our (i.e. America’s) economy. Now, the article dealing with news media seems to me to be far more important than the other regarding, essentially, production and distribution of pop culture. However the basic thrust of each article is similar, they could both be taken to be advocating for some other valuation system for deciding what is important and what is good than capitalism and the ‘the free market’.

First, the ‘culture industry’ term from the Horkheimer/Adorno piece refers to the basic culmination of similarities in philosophy of production and consumption involving, really, any genre or market or type of culture – movies, Television, clothing, painting, etc. There are two major factors that help this process along. Firstly, methods of production get drawn not according to cultural or social developments, but instead according to what the authors call the ‘economic mechanism of selection’. Second, material is dwindled down and standardized according to the personal preferences and tastes of the ‘executive authorities’ (72) responsible for choosing, producing and disseminating material.

I would draw a definite similarity b/w what the Adorno/Horkheimer piece is advocating, and what the Chomsky/Herman piece is advocating. In both cases, the content (which, it must be said, is very different in each case) is whittled down according to a set of mitigating factors. In the Chomsky case it is the different filters, which eventually decide what information gets to one and how it gets there. In the other piece, it is the aforementioned ‘economic mechanisms of selection’. There is a difference in the way each phenomenon is explained. Adorno/Horkheimer call out the actual audience as complicit in the narrowing and dumbing down, whereas Chomsky/Herman seem to imply that the audience has no part of it, they are in fact the victims of large and impervious controlling influences who decide what and when said victims see anything, and the efficacy of that which they see.

In regard to McLuhan and what Chomsky/Herman say in their piece, there is an issue that stands out to me as of great import. McLuhan draws a great amount of attention to the fact that the way information is disseminated to us is of far more importance than what is being communicated. Chomsky/Herman, as far as I see it, are sort of dissecting this as a problem. They are showing the organization (especially as it relates to economics) of media systems and power structures, and showing that the content, in most if not all cases, is entirely dependent upon these arrangements. So in this case, the capitalist economic system (and news media’s fallacious inclusion within its structure) serves as a sort of orienting principle that changes entirely the way we (human beings) receive, process and value information, and this undoubtedly changes our lives.

Week 4

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2010 by cbirdy49

Horkeimer and Adorno present an argument for the construction of contemporary culture in the “late capitolist era.” It’s theoretical explanation underscored the connections between research, advertising, and consumption that defines current cultures documented in “Merchants of Cool.” The Culture Industry adds another dimension to the already broad topic of culture.The discussion regarding what constitutes culture could go on forever but it ultimately influences identity. Culture helps to shape the community and secure the individual with a sense of place within this community. Horkeimer and Adorno weave an explanation for the origins of industrialized culture that does not pinpoint one group or even a specific time period. This leaves their arguments for how and why culture disseminates to reach the ultimate goal of “belonging” are applicable to many groups. Horkeimer/Adorno aren’t arguing for what defines culture, but how it can be crafted to suit the needs of the defined elite. The culture of industry becomes evident when a sense of culture is perpetuated for monetary reasons and control.

“The Culture of Industry “and Herman and Chomsky’s “A Propaganda Model,” both illustrate the mechanisms of control through two examples the media and consumable art. The mass media and the industry needed to create consumable culture both require organization, management, and advertising to sustain their endeavors. This makes both markets eligible for the “propaganda” label as defined by Herman and Chomsky. The art market and media market are now inter-dependent. In order to reach this reciprocity dissident voices had to be ignored. However, the two markets pushed aside contrasting voices. The government and corporate voices trumped the grass-roots and mediating markets. While industrialized culture needed to disregard the artistic connoisseur. Once this leveling is achieved, the general public is ripe for propaganda as individual nations state choose to define it.

McLuhan’s article begins with a discussion about the lightbulb and all the mechanisms participating to illuminate our homes. It’s a quality connection to Herman and Chomsky’s article since GE’ is the multinational company behind the lightbulb with a history for funding major media communication. In our late capitalist era we are now dealing with the “technical form of human expression,” that delivers, more often than not, content developed by  government and corporations. The question is what is the effect upon us as individuals. In the case of the culture of industry, it seems to encourage us to  consume information… without the hope of civil discourse and consume products … hopefully with a coupon or discount.