1 One doesn't have to travel back in time to be confronted by the absence of images that has typified most of human history. The filmmaker, Wim Wenders, recalls a trip to Hungary in the years before the fall of communism: "When I first came to a city in the Eastern bloc, it was Budapest, I went into shock: there was nothing. A few traffic signs, some ugly banners, otherwise the city was empty of imagery, of advertising. That's when I realized how used I was to all that stuff, how addicted." From his essay, "The Act of Seeing," in Wim Wenders: On Film (New York: Faber & Faber, 2001), 378.

2 Luc Sante, "Triumph of the Image," New York Times Magazine (September 19, 1999), 66.

3 Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), 4.

4 Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1970).

5 This populist echo, triggered by the Great Depression, made a multifaceted appearance across the spectrum of the arts in the 1930's. This was the decade of musicians Woody Guthrie, Aaron Copland ("Fanfare for the Common Man"); painters Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, Thomas Hart

Benton and Grant Wood; novelists John Steinbeck and Zora Neil Hurston; filmmakers John Ford and Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind, Grapes of Wrath). On Disney's "bourgeois populism," and for a good analysis of it in his work as a filmmaker, see Steven Watts, The Magic Kingdom: Walt Disney and the American Way of Life (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997).

6 There is also the theme found in Snow White, and recurring in feature films subsequent to the decade of the 1930s (e.g., Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King) of the divine right of kings (and queens) and their innate gift for benevolent rule, which deservedly raises the Marxist red flag. Disney was also a generator of populist heroes, however (e.g., Dumbo, Cinderella, The Sword in the Stone).

7 Watts, The Magic Kingdom, 77-82.

8 Watts, The Magic Kingdom, 257. See C.L.R. James, American Civilization (Cambridge, MA: Blackwells, 1993).

9 In 1946, Disney even began a collaboration with Salvador Dali with the intent of producing a 6-minute animated short that would put Dali's surrealistic images to work as a visual interpretation of the Spanish ballad "Destino" by Mexican composer Armando Dominiguez. The short was intended to be included in a sequel to Fantasia, which was never completed. But for two months, Dali showed up every morning at the Disney Studios to draw sketches for the piece. As for the plot, according to Christopher Jones, "It varied considerably, depending on which of the two men was doing the telling. 'A magical exposition of the problem of life in the labyrinth of time,' Dali expounded in his own publication, Dali News. 'Just a simple story about a young girl in search of true love,' Disney modestly described it." See Christopher Jones, "When Dali Met Disney," Boston Globe Magazine (January 30, 2000), at <>. While the project was mothballed for over 50 years, it was resurrected a few years ago and released in 2003.

10 Thomas Hine, "Notable Quotables: Why Images become Icons," New York Times, Arts and Leisure section (February 18, 1996), 1.

11 Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), 517f.

12 Kiku Adatto,Picture Perfect: The Art and Artifice of Public Image Making (New York: Basic Books, 1993).

13 BillMcKibben, The Age of Missing Information (New York: Random House, 1992), 214.

14 Iris Murdoch, "Metaphysics and Ethics," in Iris Murdoch and the Search for Human Goodness, eds. M. Antonoccio and W. Schweiker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 252.

15 Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).

16 Peter G. Horsfield, "Changes in Religion in Periods of Media Convergence," in Rethinking Media, Religion, and Culture, eds. Stuart M. Hoover and Knut Lundby (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1997), 177.

17 Douglas Rushkoff, Media Virus: Hidden Agendas in Popular Culture (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996).

23 Neil Gabler, Life: The Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), 57.

24 Johann Gottfried Herder, "Ideas toward a Philosophy of History," in Against Pure Reason, trans. and ed. Marcia Bunge (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 51.

27 As a theologian reflecting on culture, my sympathies lie with Herder. It is not off-limits to speak of culture, and of diverse cultures, in terms of divine providence or as embodiments of God's ideas. But this will have to be developed in a future chapter.

28 Edward B. Tylor, Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art and Custom, vol. 1 (New York: Henry Holt, 1874), 1.

29 Terry Eagleton, The Idea of Culture (London: Blackwell Publishers, 2000), 2.

30 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (New York: International Publishers, 1956), 64.

31 Leo Lowenthal, "Historical Perspectives of Popular Culture," in Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, eds. Bernard Rosenberg and David M. White (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1957), 55.

32 Theodor Adorno, "On Popular Music," in Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9/1 (1941), 42.

34 Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, trans. C. Lenhardt (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984), 72.

35 Theodor Adorno, "Television and the Patterns of Mass Culture," in Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, eds. Bernard Rosenberg and David M. White (Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1957), 476.

36 Adorno, "On Popular Music," 22.

37 Max Horkheimer, "Art and Mass Culture," in Studies in Philosophy and Social Science 9/2 (1941), 294. Other avant-garde artists who are singled out for praise by members of the Frankfurt School and their American counterparts, the Mass Culture theorists, include the painters Braque, Mondrian, Miro, Kandinsky, Klee, Matisse, C├ęzanne; movements: Dadaism, Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism; the composer Stravinsky; the filmmaker Charlie Chaplin; and the poets Rimbaud, Rilke, and Yeats.

38 Adorno, Aesthetic Theory, 337.

40 One of the most colorful illustrations of this is the famous account of painter Jackson Pollack urinating in art collector Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace during one of her elegant parties. Mass Culture theorist and art critic Clement Greenberg was present for this living parable.

41 Horkheimer, "Art and Mass Culture," 291-4.

42 Luminaries among this group of critics include Clement Greenberg and Dwight Macdonald. Like those in the Frankfurt School, the "New York intellectuals" were Marxist critics of developments in the Soviet Union, and of the Popular Front socialists who were embracing the New Deal policies of the Roosevelt administration.

43 Dwight Macdonald, "A Theory of Mass Culture," in Mass Culture: The Popular Arts in America, ed. Rosenberg and White, 60.

45 Eagleton, The Idea of Culture, 24.

47 See Habermas's two volume The Theory of Communicative Action (Boston: Beacon Press, 1985, 1989); Chomsky and Edward S. Herman's Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Society (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988); Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (New York: Viking Press, 1986); and Ellul's Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes (New York: Random House, 1973) and The New Demons (New York: Seabury Press, 1975).

48 See David Kirkpatrick, "Shaping Cultural Tastes at Big Retail Chains," New York Times (May 18, 2003), business section: 1.

49 Michael Dawson, The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2003).

50 See his Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).

51 Tyler Cowan, In Praise of Commercial Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 186. See also Martha Bayles, A Hole in our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Become The Girl Men Adore

How To Become The Girl Men Adore

If you asked most women today what type of girl men adore and couldn't live without they would answer the she would have to be an Angelina Jolie lookalike or at the very least be blond, blue-eyed and have killer legs. While this type of woman would definitely attract a lot of attention, she actually the type of woman that men adore.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment