Monday, March 25, 2013

PhD Adventures: The Culture Industry

I was going to post an entire paper I wrote on the discourse of "adventure!" in steampunk, but I got lazy in converting all that academese into plain English, plus my wrist hurts so you get a quote instead:

 The culture industry, as Adorno and Horkheimer saw it, runs on technology owned by the powerful (121) and is designed to push out products that require "quickness, powers of observation, and experience" to apprehend, "yet sustained thought is out of the question if the spectator is not to miss the relentless rush of facts" (127). The culture industry is about style, "the predominance of the effect, the obvious touch, and the technical detail over the work itself" (125) that designed to overwhelm the consumer, "that they fall helpless victims to what is offered them" (133). The culture industry prevents the consumer from the opportunity to apprehend the systemic forces behind the spectacle, and "amusement itself becomes an ideal" (143). 
Adorno and Horkheimer wrote The Dialectic of Enlightenment after fleeing Nazi Germany for, of all places, California, where they saw the same shit happening all over again with how media was being used. 

And this is why we don't want to go mainstream, OK? So let's stop getting excited over the concept. We should totally celebrate when more people get into steampunk, but that's kind of different from going mainstream.