Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Celebration of the Culture Industry

In Adorno and Horkheimer's The Dialectic of Enlightenment we come across a rant of the poverty of western arts seeing as they have become consumed in the larger culture industry.  With the rise of the techonological rationale comes the homogenization of expression (in its mass production).  All expressions despite input, varying budgets, and plots all come to the same end.  With regard to television they write, "Televison aims at the synethesis of radio and film, and is held up only because interested partes have not yet reached agreement, but its consequences will be quite enormous and promise to intensify the impoverisment of aesthetic matter so drastically, taht by tomorrow the thinly veiled identity of all industrial culture products can come triumphantly out into the open, derisively fulfilling the Wangerian dream of the Gesamtkunstwerk - the fusion of all arts in one work."  Then referring to producers they go on to say that, "Not only are the hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types, but teh specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change.  The details are interchangeable.  The short interval sequence which was effective in a hit song, the hero's momentary fall from grace, the rough treatment which the beloved gets from the male star, the latter's rugid defiance of the spoilt heiress, are, like all th other details, ready-made cliches to be slotted in anywhere; they do anything more than fulfill the purpose allotted them in the overall plan."
In a response to Ben's 10 Theological Theses on Art poserorprophet (p.o.p.) offered an alternative 10 theses based primarly on the work of Adorno. p.o.p. questioned aesthetic form and expression in the west because of its implication in the larger system of death.  I appreciated his rigorous response but in the end I felt that they first of all were not really alternative theses at all but instead placed a kind of control on beauty which is simply not appropriate.  p.o.p. ended up affirming though limiting much of what Ben was getting at, I think but on his own terms.  The trajectory of the Messiah is indeed towards the cross and much of (and perhaps most of) the beauty in this world is born of suffering.  Above this though the trajectory of Christ is one of freedom, the most truly free life.  I do not see p.o.p.'s articulation allowing for both the judgment and freedom of Christ.
This was actually not meant to be a very theological post.  I just wanted to set up the following videos by Girl Talk.  Adorno and Horkheimer expose the monolithicity of western art and Girl Talk seems to celebrate it.  If indeed all songs are the same and the details interchangeable then Girl Talk may herald the end of the world bringing them all together in one apocalyptic anthem.

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