May 29, 2015
ADORNO AND HORKHEIMER QUOTE
“…the modern culture industry produces safe, standardized products geared to the larger demands of the capitalist economy. It does so by representing ‘average’ life for purposes of pure entertainment or distraction as seductively and realistically as possible.”
Consider the Adorno and Horkheimer quote on slide 15 of this week’s lecture. Can you provide examples of the products the authors are referring to? What does this mean for modern media given what else we know about the Frankfurt school and the critical cultural trend in general? In particular, how do your modern product examples fit in with Marxist theories of the media?
In reflection of the quote provided in lecture, the first product that comes to mind is that of the American auto manufacturer, Chevrolet.
For most of the 1990s, Chevrolet used the song, “Like a Rock” by Bob Segar against the backdrop of their Americana infused 2-4 second clips of Americans enjoying a Chevy truck. General Motors, parent company of Chevrolet, built a culture around this particular model of their Chevy line-up that subsisted upon the nostalgia of “better times,” and of the “average American” who works hard and should have a vehicle that works just as hard as they do. The campaign stood for many years, and in and of itself became part of Americana. “… [I]t was the perfect way to embody the truck’s toughness, and also suggested the owners were strong and self-reliant” (Ad Age, 2011). The campaign was not only entertaining, but was also spoofed or satirized, helping propel the campaign for nearly 12 years and provide success to one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world.
A second may be Apple’s iPad, which within the past few years has scene a shift from technological superiority to that of inspirational, motivational, and sentimental. The 2014 advertising spot featured a grand daughter locating, re-recording, and providing her grandmother with a special gift of her own, all using the Apple iPad Air 2. The advertising presents a moment of where cold steel and glass come together to make something both beautiful, memorable, and emotional.
Both campaigns feature the broader, “American Dream” which can be both culturally engrained in the American psyche and a component of the Frankfurt School. Both spots capitalize on the emotive elements introduced to bolster the audience’s reaction and ultimately purchase the product advertised.
I think based on the trends by which we communicate thoughts and ideas that harken back to a simpler time using smarter technologies, we are looking at an age where media is both the voice and subject of our lives. Not only do we share our moments through media, we create the medium itself, which can and does go viral. From a critical cultural trend, this can lead to breakout moments of talent and inspiration amidst the conglomeration of media outlets.
Additionally, by which the speed of this information can be created, shared, and thereby, “go viral,” it’s necessary for consumers to consider taking an extra cautionary eye to the content, message, and intent of the material they are engaging. Modern Media must be cognitive of these efforts to ensure they themselves are unbiased or swayed by the message or company presenting it.
Entertainment, MMC6400, Web Theory,