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Explain the following passage taken from Adorno's Culture Industry Reconsidered: "The power of the culture industry's ideology is such that...

Explain the following passage taken from Adorno's "Culture Industry Reconsidered":

The power of the culture industry's ideology is such that conformity has replaced consciousness. The order that springs from it is never confronted with what it claims to be or with the real interests of human beings.

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In Dialectic of Enlightenment by Adorno and Max Horkheimer, the authors hold that the culture industry denies individualism by coercing people to be no more than consumers of mass art and entertainment. Largely, the culture industry is the entertainment business. This includes film, music, art, television, radio, and so on....

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In Dialectic of Enlightenment by Adorno and Max Horkheimer, the authors hold that the culture industry denies individualism by coercing people to be no more than consumers of mass art and entertainment. Largely, the culture industry is the entertainment business. This includes film, music, art, television, radio, and so on. The authors argue that products (entertainment and otherwise) are marked by sameness and similarity. The consumer believes he/she can choose from a wide variety, but this is an illusion. They also argue that the rise of the sound film is a prime example of the culture industry’s technique of pacifying and producing mindless consumers.

Those who are so absorbed by the world of the movie—by its images, gestures, and words—that they are unable to supply what really makes it a world, do not have to dwell on particular points of its mechanics during a screening.

They don’t think; they merely consume.

In Culture Industry Reconsidered, Adorno writes, "In a supposedly chaotic world, it [culture industry] provides human beings with something like standards for orientation, and that alone seems worthy of approval." A film is a mass produced commodity that offers the masses an escape from their working lives; or, a film can virtually copy the real world, thus celebrating it and making the consumer feel better about his/her life. In either case, a film-goer is pacified and given no motivation for critical thinking.

Popular films, music, art, and television tend to be very similar and very formulaic. They give the consumer a sense of familiarity and comfort. This practice induces conformity in the product (film) and the consumer, and because it induces conformity and passivity, the masses (consumers) never challenge the culture industry. They simply accept it. From the quote you cite above, the “order” that springs from the ideology of the culture industry is never challenged. This “order” is the whole business relationship between producers and consumers. It is a systemic order that reproduces itself and its consumers.

Film makers might claim to be making “art” or a product that is, even as an escape, something that improves peoples’ lives. One could argue that movies do serve a purpose in this way, but Adorno is rigorous here and claims that any industry that promotes conformity while discouraging critical thinking is necessarily bad for society because it discourages individualism.

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The term culture industry was coined by Adorno and a colleague to reflect the mass production of products of entertainment for the masses, the process resembling a production on factory assembly lines. This industry, they claimed, attempts to force consumers into always adhering to market interests, thereby further supporting the ongoing culture industry.

Adorno argues that this cultural industry has grown so large and influential that people have collectively lost their capacity for individual thought. As people strive for sameness, they conform to the ideals delivered to them through movies, ads, and music. They no longer seek higher ideals such as freedom and creativity, settling (and even striving) for the misleading psychological needs produced in capitalist markets. Therefore, the real interests (or needs) of humans are neglected in this market, and intentionally so.

Adorno goes on to say that humans are swayed so easily because of their "ego weakness," and that American filmmakers know of this innate weakness and exploit it:

It is no coincidence that cynical American film producers are heard to say that their pictures must take into consideration the level of eleven-year-olds. In doing so they would very much like to make adults into eleven-year-olds.

In this, the ultimate claim is that the cultural industry is so easily able to sway masses of human thought and behavior because humans have lost their individual capacities to function at higher levels of discernment.

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Adorno's view was that mass culture, which he referred to as the "culture industry," pervaded modern society. The culture industry spawned newspapers, films, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that removed people's desire to change their circumstances and made them accept life in a capitalist economy.

In this passage, Adorno states that the culture industry creates conformity among people. Fed by forms of mass culture, they no longer develop an individual consciousness or sense of the world—they only desire to conform to what others are doing or thinking. As a result, people do not challenge the products of mass culture but accept them placidly. Though they live in ways that do not truly make them happy and that are not in their best interests, they accept this situation without questioning it or confronting the power of mass culture. Such is the power of mass culture on the human mind.

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Adorno has elsewhere referred to the term "culture industry" as a process by which "old and familiar" things are "fused together into a new quality."  In other words most of culture is based upon objects or images or ideas that we already recognize from past exposure. Adorno also notes that there is a "general uncritical consensus" is the production of such items, and they they act as their own form of advertisement. "Industry" does not only refer to manufacturing, but also to modes of distribution and the means by which things become familiar.

In this passage, "consciousness" is another way of referring to individuality. The culture industry is one that creates a stimulating and overwhelming array of images, texts, sounds and other media forms (most of them already in existence as opposed to new and original) that allow individuals to simply pick and choose from a wide variety of choices. These choices become associated with personal identity, forming a kind of "order" or structure of the self. Because an individual can find commonality with others based upon these kinds of interests in cultural memes and objects, it can be very easy to believe we make such choices freely and that we're motivated by out own unique interests. But Adorno seems to be saying that this freedom of choice is illusory, and that individuality has given way to conformity. He also notes that the "real interests of human beings" are not served by a careless engagement with culture; this suggests that we may actually be lessening our intellectual rigor and cultural awareness by making choices in this casual manner.

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