Adorno’s Culture Industry Theory and 1940’s HollywoodIntroductionThe film industry of the United States, specifically Hollywood of the 1940s era was a significantly important role player in the formation of perceptions in people through the art forms of films and music that were made for the masses to be well received. The industry was characteristically monopolistic mass production involved using relevant technology. These attributes are employed by the culture industries that are depicted by Theodor Adorno specific to his theory on Culture Industry and Enlightenment through Deception. The theory basically has its basis in human conditioning and depicts that popular culture can significantly impact a population, making them susceptible to capitalistic traits while conditioning them for passivity.
The objective of the paper is to argue in favor of Adorno’s theory with supportive evidence that provides for the applicability of the proposed theory by Adorno on Culture Industry relative to the Hollywood Industry in the 1940s. The study involves an in depth look at the cinematic and film industry in the 1940s, specific to their monopolization in terms of market, ideas, perceptions and themes.
The involvement of the Hollywood industry with the politics of the region is also explored to identify the application and the relevance of Adorno’s proposition on Culture Industries. For this purpose a number films the likes of Casablanca are used to provide evidence of the relevance of Adorno’s theory. In addition to this critique against the relevance of the theory to the Hollywood industry of the era is also depicted however this is to present a contrasting view and also show the opinion that the other side has regarding the importance of films and movies in shaping perception of the society for consumerism highlighting personal capitalistic gains. Adorno’s Culture TheoryTheodor Adorno addressed the issue of Culture Industry a term defined by him only in his book titled Dialect of Enlightenment which was published in 1944.
The book contained several essays akin to chapter, of which one was titled the Culture Industry and the use of enlightenment as mass deception. Through this Adorno provided his perspective of philosophy and sociological studies specific to the mass media and culture. He depicted through this that the mass media tends to create a mass culture that with popular reception from the society takes the form of popular culture.
This culture further acts in a capitalistic manner to churn out products in the form of cultural goods which he described as mass entertainment through the communication media including films, radio and print publishing like magazines that created a pseudo culture of consumerism in the people. He presented that companies made use of the culture industries and the inherent traits of the society specific to the mass media in order to manipulate them by making them want for more consumerist products while stifling their thinking by making them passive.
The propositions made by Adorno specifically reject the notions of philosophy from a Marxist perspective. Instead he focused on the alienation aspect highlighting the cultural element involved. Specifically after his migration from Germany to the United States as a result of the war torn region, the theories depicted by Adorno were much influenced in how the rationality in a community or a society be changed to reflect a more capitalistic society.
His theories as depicted in his essay on enlightenment argued that enlightenment as an element and notion in itself was questionable and could result in societies causing harmful acts as depicted in the holocaust. The role of the media was highlighted by Adorno in terms of how the popular mass media manipulate the opinions and the perception of a society making them capitalistic as well as making then impassive while conditioning them for change in a gradual manner which is not recognized by them.
Adorno proposed that the mass media had significant potential in terms of making significant improvements in the society and influencing their perceptions in a positive manner, but the works of Adorno depict that he was more critical of the media in terms of how it was being used for personal consumption and personal favor.