sour-faced Germans

Liza Featherstone lfeather32 at
Wed Feb 10 14:22:18 PST 1999

>during the Eighties. Suffice to say that Adorno and Horkheimer already
>solved the is-Disney-brainwashing-us-with-evil-propaganda-or-is-Mickey
>kinda-cool conundrum back in 1944, in their "Dialectic of Enlightenment",
>which talked about the culture industry of monopoly capitalism as being
>*both* mass deception and canalized rebellion, simultaneously. Progress in
>capitalism *is* regress.

I'd hardly call these characters the last word in left cultural analysis. I love this book, and some it stands up better than they could have imagined, but as I recall they had nothing but contempt and terror for the masses (the latter understandable given their experience in Nazi Germany but 1940s U.S. was not a historically parallel situation), a simplisitic notion of the differences between high and low culture, and a puritanical disregard for the pleasures of mass culture (that is, among other reasons, they actively disliked it *because* it was sensuous) -- they were snobs...backlash against their simplistic elitism is part of what has prompted the Mickey-Mouse-is-cool school of (mostly American) cultural studies that you're quite right to make fun of.

but didn't Gramsci sort of settled this question before it was even a question with the whole idea of hegemony, yes they ARE brainwashing you but there's an ongoing process of resistance and reinterpretation and all these cultural messages are always contested and contestable...though it's been years since I've read him


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