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That Way 'lies' Hollywood, or seeing Harry Potter ironically.

hollywood blvd

"Have you had a chance to see Mamma Mia yet, poppet?"  
Asked the ex Head Teacher of the bright 18 year old who was just about to go up to Cambridge University.

‘No’, replied the 18 year old.
‘And why is that ,petal?’
‘Because that way lies Hollywood.’

We have been to visit friends in Sussex and a surprise guest is the ex Head Teacher.
Now a  group of us are riding back in the car to London. I decide to try to eke out why the Cambridge undergrad’slapped down the ex Head

‘What did you mean that way lies Hollywood?'

‘A lot of friends and I just believe films, the whole culture industry,  is...well,  just one big money making scam. A confidence trick that started out in the 1920s in Hollywood and had just gone on and on. Some of my firends might go to see rubbish  like Harryy Potter as something to be viewed, ironically. Have you read, Adorno on that kind of thing?

‘Eh Adorno, no, no, I don’t think I have. Have I?’ (to the good woman alongside me)
‘No, you haven’t even heard of Adorna.’
This brings laughter from the 18 year old.
‘So what does he say, eh Adorno, is that how you pronounce it?'
‘Well,  he says, that the culture industries churn out a debased mass of unsophisticated, sentimental products. And that this has replaced the more 'difficult' and critical art forms. You know, which might lead people to actually question social life.
“So false needs are cultivated in people by the culture industries, is that what he is saying?”
“Kind of, he is saying these needs, let’s say for example Momma Mia, and Harry Potter are needs which can be both created and satisfied by the capitalist system, and which replace people's 'true' needs.
‘And what might they be?’
'Well, full expression of human potential, genuine creative happiness, rather than sitting there passively, having forked up your £20 to watch what is essentially infantile rubbish.'  
‘Right, right.’
‘He says that stars, films are commodity fetishism and that they are promoted by the marketing, advertising and media industries. With the result that social relations and cultural experiences are objectified in terms of money.'
‘But aren’t some of these films...well, aren’t they quite good?’
‘Well,  he thinks and so do I, that products of the culture industry may be emotional or apparently moving, but Adorno sees this as cathartic - we might seek some comfort in a sad film or song, have a bit of a cry, and then feel restored again.'
But boiled down to its most obvious modern-day application, the argument would be that television; film, leads people away from talking to each other, or questioning the oppression in their own lives. Instead they get up and go to work...if they are employed, come home and switch on TV, absorb TV's nonsense until bedtime, and then the daily cycle starts again.’
‘Right, right. Do you have a television in your home?’
‘We've never had a television.' ‘
‘Don't your friedns go to the cinema?"
"Yes, but they go ironically."
"And what was the last film you saw?"
"Rocco and His Brothers, my father took me to see that at the National Film Theatre, years ago.
‘You can drop me off here.’ She stands by the opened car door.
‘Thank you very much for inviting me along, I hope I wasn’t too rude.’
‘Not at all, not at all. Hey and good luck at Cambridge.’
I look at my partner as I drive off. 'Did I imagine that conversation?'

See: ‘The Frankfurt School and the culture industry’ by Dominic Strinati, An Introduction to Theories of Popular Culture, Routledge, London. 1995  Adorno, Theodor W. The Culture Industry: Selected essays on mass culture, Routledge, London. 1991 

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