A sad and concrete change suffered by media, and pointed out by the Frankfurt School, a group of German-American theorists analysing the evolution of the Western capitalist societies since the classical theory of Marx. In the late 20’ and early 30’, two important theorists, Max Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno coined the term ‘culture industry’ to identify and describe the process of industrialization of mass media and the commercialization of culture within the capitalist societies. They proceed to analyse the entire mass media body bearing in mind three key features: standardization, commodification and massification.
The two theorists then collaborated and wrote a book called the Dialect of Enlightenment. In one of its chapters (The culture industry: Enlightenment as mass deception), they make a powerful statement about the negative impact capitalism had on mass media. According to it, capitalism represent a big bad beast leaning on the working class’ shoulders. It is raising, shining, and dominating through a seducing mass media propaganda in which the consumers is deceived to believe that whatever one’s offered, it’s unique and it’s special designed for one’s needs. This message is artfully designed to appear as it whispers to the ears of only one individual when in fact, it is whispering to the ears of 7.4 billion other people.
Allured by the mirage of money, mass media accept the invitation to disseminate the principles of capitalism, in this way triggering its own industrialization by flattering and worshiping the consumers’ egos. The moment they start to “call themselves industry”, they begin producing TV programs, films, music, etc. following certain formulas developed exclusively to fulfil the standards of each demographic social category (‘something is provided for somebody so that none may escape’). Thus, media annihilates the authenticity, originality and spontaneity of its content and start to professionally prostitute itself through predictable soup operas scenarios, pop songs with repetitive lyrics and similar melodic lines, etc. Pushed forwards by the ‘supply and demand’ principle, media creates content labelled under a new motto ‘We don’t do art, we don’t educate but we do business now.’
For instance, such films as A Cinderella story or Mean girls are built on the same formula: a marginalised and unpopular girl falls in love with a boy that her social status can’t afford; she’s being bullied by some mean plain characters, all so that in the end, the boy notices her and starts to love her. These films without any substance or essence don’t stimulate the public nor thrills it in any way. Their predictability makes them automatically boring and of poor quality.
As ‘the whole world is made to pass through the filter of the cultural industry’, mass media causes a general deceiving of population by promising big and delivering mediocre content. It becomes a liberal and democratic way of installing a capitalist dictatorship where media offers the consumers whatever they want after telling them what they should want/ want. The authors say ‘the only choice is either to join in or to be left behind’… or change it, I say. Because we can. And because that’s why we’re here: to learn how to change it.