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Episode #110 ... The Frankfurt School pt. 3 - The Culture Industry

2017-09-07 | 🔗

Today we talk about an important chapter from The Dialectic of Enlightenment entitled The Culture Industry. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, everyone, I'm Stephen West! This is philosophize this half year somebody believes that the world to be a better place if philosophical concepts were made easy and freed anyone that wants them. If you believe, that everyone's life would improve around you. If philosophy was widely disseminated, consider having philosophy as part of your portfolio invest in a better world. Patreon com philosophies philosophize this. If you're somebody that doesn't think the world benefit from more philosophy, I got for you too, it's called the Amazon banner and in no way supports this, show, got something for everyone. It philosophize this org Today's episode is part three in a series on the Frankfurt school. I hope you love the show today. So it's Been said about the workers in the United States Post World WAR, two that they found them. And a very unique situation in terms of what options are made available to them. Capitalism, the massive improvements are come along with it, and technology inefficiency has made it possible for the average person to do things? Only the super rich had been able to do throughout human history that
for consumers in this post, world war, two world people no longer to live together under one roof like its little house and the prairie sharing a common no horse and doing shadow on the walls for entertainment. Now we live in new world. Now we live in a world where it is entirely feasible for the average consumer to buy their own house far better. A shack on a prairie by their own car, but the power of three hundred of those communal horses and the advent of mass media and entertainment broadcasting have instant access to mountains of art and cultural artifacts to consume, with the push of a button a little bit better than using your hand and trying to make it look like an alligator jumping on the wall. Theodore, Giorno and MAX hearken to members of the Frankfurt school who co wrote the book. The dialectic of enlightenment no doubt agree that capitalism is responsible for all these changes and what's possible for the average person. But they want to ask the question: why is it There seems to be such a strong correlation between the trappings of capitalism
and the alienation of of society. Other words words. When people get the house they get the car, they have access to more art than they could ever consume. Why is it that worker in the twentieth century seems to be the most alienated from other people around them and the most alienated from the process of creating the world they're living in in human history that. Another way to think of the house that everyone's able to buy now is that it's a box that instead of being a member of a local community and feeling like an integral part of a group of people. Now practically. Nobody knows our neighbors, they just go home, and shut themselves away in this box and here's the important part. It's it's a product that was sold to you. That house is a product that, if you aren't mindful and take effort to prevent it from happening, it's a product that aids in this product of alienation from other people, but that's not the only box. We live in about it, instead of sharing a communal horse, we might have to talk to some people might have to figure out who get the horse and win. You might
a conversation with a fellow traveller on the road. Now nobody talks to other drivers going down the freeway again they just get in their car shut themselves away in this box, a product that was sold, then, if are not careful aids in this process of alienation. What adornment, or crime are going to go on. To say here is that this other box in your front room, the one that delivers e, while the tv shows and movies and music and all the other culture that you consume, that these things are also profit that are sold to you that serve in this process of alienation, see whether Coming from as an old marxist critique of capitalist society that anymore, simple, non capitalist structure, people do work, and there's a very obvious connection between these specific task there doing and some benefit either to themselves to the community. There involved in, let's give two examples: more simple one, less simple, let's see your community needs water and you have to dig a well no nobody else There is passionate about well digging digging
that well may be horrible work. It may take it all day. You may be sweat, and covered in dirt and want a back rub at the end of the day. But at least as you are digging that well, you feel a connect into the work that you're doing you that that you are digging that well, so that you, your family, the family is living around you. You have drinking water, not only I, feel connected to the work, though, but there's a sense in which you are creating the world that you're living it right everybody gather around, we have a problem. We don't have any water. The solution This problem is we're gonna dig a well grab a shovel. Let's do this thing, you're not profiting in terms of green paper in that world. Your profiting in terms of social recognition when you're walking, downtown you're the person who the well so that everybody else could have drinking water now new example say you were part of a non capitalistic trading base. Culture you're an artisan that specializes in making clocks right well in that sort
world still likely? You feel a sense of connection to the work that you're, doing I mean being able to tell the time is an absolutely crucial thing for society to function properly say I'm coming of age, and I need a job to do and turns out- I'm really good at making clocks I'm Steve the clockmaker in this town now in that Oh, my work may not be fun and games all the time. I may drop kick o clock or two across my shop but later on when I go out in public, but I see my clocks all over town, helping people keeping society in sync and on time I feel like I'm apart. What makes this town work, I feel like a place, small role in the creation and maintenance of this town. Now, how does marks think this dynamic changes in a capitalist society. But what are we love about capitalism Not only are people in competition to constantly build a better mousetrap, but there in competition to build that mousetrap more efficiently than the people. Their competing with hyper efficiency becomes an dreamily important aspect of how goods and services are produced marks would say this is dangerous,
that, when an economic system stops looking at people as ends in themselves and starts looking in terms of being a means to some end of hyper technological progress and efficiency, there's no guarantee gonna be doing work that you feel connected to see because, let's say I'm clockmaker Steve and I am really good at making clocks. I have a system and on a good day. I can produce around ten clock start to finish. We'll take a hundred people and put them on an assembly line, make their job that when the clock comes back You put this piece of metal under this groove and send it down the line. Those people can make ten thousand clocks in a day. Now, that's super efficient at that satisfies the needs of capitalism perfectly, but marks would ask at what cost what this does is alienate the worker from feeling connected to the purpose of their work? They don't feel like their part of the process of creating the world their living and there's just this product being given to them by. Designers on high that they ve never met and their job is
put a piece of metal in a groove and fuel this process of churning out products as efficiently as possible. Germany, many of you, can relate to this with your job, so I used to work in a grocery warehouse exactly what you'd expect long days physical labor The the stores order, the food they need, the job stacking stacking cases of food, the palettes that then get get shipped off to the store doing that job. Will. You are doing work. The performs an important function for society delivering people their food- that's important, but I can tell you none of the people working there thought of the job like they were farmer Brown. I'm just bringing the people of the world the nutritious food they need to nurse their bodies. No, it becomes this eight Ten, our drone of stacking heavy boxes onto a pallet, the people working would say things all the time like me, other jobs boring it's hard, it's kind of grunt work, but it pays well. We have a really good union and great health benefits, and that's the argument against marks on the capless side right. But there are many arguments against marks at will: into but one of the primary ones is that gather, react,
the world is that some people have to do jobs. They don't necessarily like that, need to get done, but those people that do those jobs generally it paid more to do those jobs and nobody else wants to do which then in turn allows to go home, yes, one down today's work but able to experience higher quality of life that most other people don't get to experience. It all bound is itself out. What adorning and Hochheimer would say to that is cause for eight hours a day, a third of their life, these people get to go to a job that alienates summoned sucks the life out of them. And the reward for doing that is more of this. Green paper that allows them to go home and consume stuff. That makes them feel just good enough to get up and do it again the next day. In other words, perpetuating the cycle of working and consumption. That's what you are when it all comes down to it work and consume work and consume work in an environment that alienates. You then go home and feel even more alienated as you try to spiritually lift yourself up by going into consumption mode,
something they want to underscore. And it's gonna be an important point when it comes to their views on tv and movies and music, so I want to mention- briefly right now when you are a consumer, you don't have an unbridled, LE freedom when it comes to choosing what things you're gonna be consuming. Meda guess, in theory, you could just never buy anything for your entire life but shorter that extreme. Sure to be looking like Tom Hanks from Castaway, which actually even he had Wilson. Ninety- nine point: nine percent of people buy stuff and there's this sum alienating dynamic, dynamic of the fact that the life you build. Your self in our modern culture is highly connected to the things that are able to consume and the child is that you have for what you're gonna consume, are always give do you by somebody else again, some designer on high, that you ve never met because, in a strange way be products, are available for you to consume, set up the parameters for what you can do with your life. That cost, We can start to feel alienating almost like what building Europe if even is a fundamental level, is just
navigating a world that doesn't feel like your own you're, just a consumer and a world full of products that were designed by a handful of people for the sake of mass appeal, and your role is just to pick which of these products are going to zoom each day, now expand on that in a sector. The thing I really want to make clear here is how strong we adorn own horn. I'm going to call into question the concept of our leisure time, member the ultimate goal. The Frankfurt school during this time is to get to the Of how workers in the West can be in the conditions therein, but still feel feel as though there a member of exploited class class of people and of the the first places they're to to try to find an answer to this is to look at how work spend their time after they get off of work. What they notice is that people tend to look at their lives in terms of this constant interplay between work, time and leisure time, you're, either at work doing what You have to do to sustain a life or your enjoying some well deserved, leisure time doing things you actually want to be doing. They point out Capitalist societies there's often this attitude of work, that's
something you got to do. We all got our own a living, it's not fun, but it's got to get done. I got to wake up. Early yeah pretty much the same thing day after day at work, nothing, really new man. I can act like a version of myself there. I can't really be myself. I always got a paint on a smile for brand. An accounting. I have to use all the right politically correct terms at a professional decorum requires, certainly, is a sacrifice. I guess, but look all that I have to sacrifice in terms of individuality and novelty. In my work, life is more more than made up for by the stuff I get to do in my leisure time. That's when I truly get to be who I am that's the attitude people often have well, I don't know what else How are people in these modern industrialized societies, typically spinning their leisure time, will tell you what they're not doing that learning a foreign language or doing a biblical exegesis.
Or memorizing the encyclopedia, in other words, for not doing things that are highly mentally taxing that make them into a better person more aware of the world around them know. What are they usually do? They do stuff. That requires little to no effort to do stuff, that's relaxing and in who could possibly blame them. They just worked out when you wanted to do, come home and work more or used. Is that what life is constant working until you die of a heart attack when winter, thirty, three years old, they want to relax, they want to be entertained. They want to have to entertain themselves. Will adornment whore calmer would say here is another great thing about apple society. When there's a serious demand for something somebody, there is going to find a way to create a product that meets that demand. Just happens in this particular society, there's a giant percentage of people, let think of their lives in terms of work, time versus leisure time, a giant percentage of people that the minute, clock out of their job have a strong desire to go and do stuff that doesn't require much effort
so that they can relax and recharge their batteries. Having been alienated at work all day. What this dynamic creates is a huge demand, some product I can consume that allows me to just relax and be entertained. Now, in the early twentieth century, there was a brand new invention brought to market. That turned out to be incredible at solving this problem. Mass media widely disseminated convenient mewing about to go to the store to consume this product, its in the front room of nearly everyone's house, you can listen to the radio in your box. As you drive back to your other box. That has a third box filled, which shows that you can just relax and be entertained by take the edge off that's the kind of tv show and movie and song that people are going to have a demand for in a capitalist society. Think about it. If you by creating a tv show, that's a media product design to fulfil a demand of what the masses want to watch during their leisure time. What kind of show do you make what
maybe the most money. Do you do a public access show deconstructing quantum physics, or do you do something like duck dynasty, product is gonna, be demanded more by the working class. Here's where they're going with this. It's not that there's some evil dude out their named were J House that invented the house so that people Become more alienated from each other, and it's not that there's some cabal of people at the top of the entertainment Three that are hand. Selecting shows that are keeping people working in consuming. No one have a society where the masses are told from birth to think of themselves as workers and consumers existing in a world that they're alienated from allies to about how crucial their own personal financial successes in that world. Things like the house, a private boxing, go to and watch these entertaining chosen wind down from work. That's the natural product that people the demand for and want to consume movies about, superheroes or science fiction that take you out of this work
and insert you into another world ring forget about the problems of this one. That's what they want. Video games that immersed you into a fictitious old and escaped from the trials. A life novels about something good wizard name Harry Potter, and somebody dude. Without a knows, we want to focus on these worlds, that dont really exist, so we can escape him to think about. The one were actually living it. That's the product work of a capitalist society, have a huge demand for that sounds not like Nietzsche concept of true world theories and a tactic used by mythology, religion to get people focused on a different world, the distract them away from the problems of this one. That's exactly what they're saying mass media has become for people Theodore Dorn says quote that in an age of speed, virtual disenchantment, the individual experiences the need for substitute images of the divine it obtains these through pseudo culture, Hollywood, idols, soaps, novels, pop tunes lyrics, and film genres such as the wild West or the Mafia movie fashioned substitute. Technologies for the masses in Hollywood idols. That's what he said. What we
to do his exalted celebrities onto a pedestal and look at them is They are these Messiah, like figures, it's George Clooney he's practically glowing formerly you may have worked in the path of some anointed figure described in a holy book, but now Managua in the path of Clooney me? If I can, just where that jacket, that he's wearing or by that special care I can do my hair, like the girl from that other show by the same brand, a soda their drinking. That movie, maybe can be more, like my idol note that there's always some product you have to consume. That's what's stopping you from walking in the path Clooney me imagine if to walk the path of Christ you had to buy the sandals. He was wearing it, be ridiculous consumption been written into the very moral fabric of this media age that fundamentally a worker in consumer, what your life is in this culture is when you have a problem, you buy a product to solve that problem, after, while that message being reinforced, people start to believe that act and no matter what problem you have there's some product out there, that's gonna be able to solve it,
People do advertising realises they real is that most people feel alienated from other people around them. They realise that what most people craved that they dont have is close human interaction, so they use it to their Bennett They make adds that sending the message that, if you buy this beverage product you're all this going to have a close knit group of friends that sit in a circle laughing drinking it together like on the commercial that, if you buy this car, some really active person is gonna, be made constant eye contact with you and smiling that if you buy this barbecue the sudden there's gonna, be a community of families in your backyard socializing around it working together, your mom and dad haven't been in a loveless marriage for twenty years. It's great of courses no guarantee once you get these products at any. These things are gonna happen. There is not even a
reasonable likelihood, given how prone to alienation the average workers. So what ends up happening? Is people get caught in this perpetual cycle of feeling empty inside craving true, close human interaction? Seeing some advertisement for a product on tv that seems to have worked for the people on the commercial, buying that product still feeling empty inside and there's always another product after that that, if only I work even harder at my job and make more money, that's going to put me over the edge. So again, I let's consider are these advertisers and evil group that want people to cost we feel empty and alienated looking to products to fill that void inside of them know now they're just trying to make as much money as possible. Just living within a capitalist system where profit, as the ultimate goal fact is no matter what you think about whether capitalism is causing it
a need that a lot of people have that isn't being filled is feeling like a loved and important member of a community? Why not link products to people have not feeling it's an effective strategy. Now these cultural products, in particular tv, shows movies radio These new products available to people during the twentyth century changed everything. You know it's one thing to: the peanut butter business and to sit down with a team of designers and to try to figure out how we can this peanut butter to so line up with what consumers want out there that whenever anybody goes to the grocery store, they be crazy not to buy your peanut butter, there's a sense in which the linking of popular demand to the process of making the best peanut butter in the world is beneficial to the vast vast majority of people out there. But Ador Hor Heimer would ask what happens when art becomes the product, that's being sold? What happens when the ultimate goal of producing cultural artifacts, like movies
He showed in radio becomes how much money can we make? What happens, they would say is the birth of the culture industry. We are in the business now producing for the masses, cultural artifacts that they already have a demand for, so that we can make as much money as possible. See. There's this thing. We do we reference this thing called pop culture. All the time we reference pop. Culture and there's. This implication there that the things that are popular are popular because they are Out of some demand from the masses, but if your favor, show us the walking dead. The people that wrote the walking dead didn't write it because they got millions of calls from people. Clamoring we want a zombie apocalypse? Show we want to show that show cases the bonds human beings from different cultures have, in times of stress no whoever wrote. Walking dead, designed a product that they got enough. People watch that they can make money from it. This is a subtle, but distinction to make for adorn own Hochheimer, because when it comes to the art you can consume it's always you choose
from the limited number of selections that the culture industry is produced for you, the first and foremost purpose behind the creation that are being to make money and correspond with mass appeal. But this isn't what art should be to Theodor Dono. The popularity of art shouldn't be determined by how much it corresponds with social norms True art should get you to think it should get you to consider an alternative way of. Looking at the world, true art shouldn't be easy to consume. Necessarily, you should have to concentrate hard on it to appreciate the depth, not veg out on the couch and get a thimble full of substance in a three hour movie, there's no stopping it in the capitalist system, though, when you link the market to culture. When you turn works of art into products, the market is gonna, consume. Cultural products structures symbol, all the ways other products are, they undergo a process. Standardization, the people making the products figure out a formula they can use. To create a product that they know the masses are gonna, buy and then essentially just produce?
the same products over and over again with slight little details changed to create the illusion of novelty for the consumer, for example, what really is the difference between the two thousand sixteen model of a car and the two thousand seventeen model. Not much in the car company knows, there's gonna be enough. Consumers want, amid Xyz Sudan that has these features and you're gonna buy it. So what are they do next year? They, essentially sell the exact same car with some minor medic changes to the outside, maybe better gps system inside to make the consumer feel like this is new and exciting when, in reality, the form of the car overall is the same thing: when you get a new phone, the screen may be a little bigger. It may be a little easier to do certain things on it, and you may look at those details and see them as big as prudence, but in reality the overall form of the phone you just bought in the function that it serves, hasn't changed at all. Now neither those things may bother you. So what I like, my new phone better, my old one call me a capitalist p.
If you want, but I like, having a better gps system in two thousand sixteen model, but what happens when the same dynamic as applied to tv shows movies and music. What you get, the same song written over and over again following some food. they. They know going to correspond with mass demand, with slight little details, change, to create the illusion of novelty. The overall warm and message of the song is the same thing ate it still. You braggin for three minutes about your most recent big financial purchase, at the beet? Is a little different and it's a different person saying the words, maybe an indifferent John, or that the forms the same the song still about worship and the devil and higher stepped out and understand you, but you switch the audio play the records and and yet a different guitar if at the beginning- and it allows consumers to get the same product. They know they like without exe experiencing any sort of real novelty, Theodore Door, no talks about how judging a piece of art. There's this emphasis we put on the deed. Of the piece of art. Oh the
the photography, was amazing. The dialogue was so intense right there but it's the same movie that's been released every year for the last ten years. We focus on those details because it's the old differentiation. There is between works of art in our time that in general it exact same product warmed over Spoon FED to US time and time again, rom comes there may be little d tales, switched around in an individual plot? But overall, and form a romantic comedy is the exact same movie, preferring the exact same function, time and time again same thing with westerns same thing, with sitcoms same thing, with horror movies. These are formulaic templates that we go into the theatre, knowing exactly what to expect and how it's gonna turn out Before we even see it now, summing up, there might be saying yeah, that's kind of part of the overall charm of these kinds of movies right, yeah. I know it's not Schindler's list and yonder. Back in my mind, I do know where it's going in the end, but look somebody can
love, chocolate ice cream as a product because of how it makes them feel can't they like wrong, comes as a product because of how it makes them feel Theodore Dona would say gap but understand that life imitates art. Don't underestimate the level of impact the consumption of these products is having the way you look at the world that we watch. These movies and tv shows and listen to these songs and there's a part of us that in It's our self into the story and makes it real labour watch horror movie about some demon, that's possessing some object and then later that night of the next day or in a dark room, and you feel just a little bit more crept out than you would otherwise be because what, if the demons hunting my condo now yeah yeah
demons are a possibility for that movie to affect how you see reality, let alone a rom com taking place in a world that greatly resembles yours. That's another thing. I know points out that in almost every movie tv show book play and many songs, there's always a love interest. There's always two people romantically interested in each other. They work together to beat the bad guy make out and live happily ever after what he says is that this sets people up to think of their life and the figurative movie that's playing out within it, largely in terms of finding that one, and only someone that the arc of the story of my life is complete. When I find that person that I love they move all their IKEA Furniture into my box that I live in and we leave the rest of lives out together, isolated in a box what he says this conditions, people to think of this individual romantic involvement as the ultimate goal of life all the while missing out on the joy and satisfaction that could come by working to fill that voice, created by their alienation from other people. In other words, instead of being loved and
preceded by one person being a loved in it. Shaded member of a community most people, don't even consider that she, because again it's not that there is an evil group of writers at the top of the culture industry that what they do so that people stay alienated living in a box. Happily, ever after together, it's that when Europe adding a story, and you want to make the most money the characters and plot of those stories that you write naturally become Kara, in plants at the masses can relate to people want to be able to easily relate. The characters and immerse themselves in the story, which then creates the cycle of life imitating art and art, imitating life, and because Average worker in this country doesn't get home from work and immediately put on their CHE Guevara Borri. I mean the which person is not some revolutionary constantly. Looking to be critical of in justices and alternative ways of doing things, no buying large, they whine down from work and try to do the best with what they have because of that dynamic the characters in the movies that they relate to are gonna, be generally the same kind of person. The plots of these movies are
start to resemble a sort of stay in your own lane, don't become an antagonist movie of your life, because the bad guy always loses when life is lemons, make lemonade and just enjoy your life as much as you can. This becomes the attitude portrayed by art that life begins to imitate the culture. Industry is constantly working to turn everyone basically into the same person so that they'll buy the cultural products that it produces. What's even crazy or Adorno and Hore Homer point out. Is that all this stuff Is not a mystery to most people? Most people realise at some point in their life that this is going on, that many people around them are just sort of doing their best impression of a conglomeration of different characters. They've seen seen on all the movies and tv shows they watched just music and movies all become the same warmed over product with slight differences in detail. People seem to, all the same pattern, this that twenty TH century America quote personality scarcely signifies anything more than shining white teeth and freedom.
Body odor and emotions. The triumph of advertising in the culture industry, as it can consumers feel compelled to buy and use its products even when they see through them. In quote, why would somebody do that I would people that see through, what's going on in the culture industry still choose to participate in the game. Well, Hor Heimer would say it's because they consider the alternative. What can an average worker really do when it comes to changing this stuff? They're not going to run for president they're not going to incite revolution, the only change that would come the average worker, if they chose to not participate, is it now they work eight hours a day and they have no escape from the exploitation and alienation that they face.
This is why a door no has such vitriol for what the culture industries become. He thinks that when you turn art into a commodity, you instantly high jacket and direct its creation towards mass appeal, but this isn't what art should be to him. Works of art have the power to give people a different perspective on things without violence, works of art had the power to change the world. Theodore Giorno wooden agree with Simona before that, in order to overthrow an oppressive person. You yourself, need to become an oppressor of that person. What's the game? What's a one group of people oppresses another group of people for two hundred years and then what the oppressed group gets to oppress the other group now This whole cycle discontinued over and over again until the end of time. But I don't know it ask- is what, if true art, not the garbage the culture industry, pumps out and passes office, art but true, art. What, if that's the tool for change? That's needed the most in a world where there's not much of it around thank
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.