Reflection Topic: Go to Twitter and look up the top 3 trending topics in the Philippines. Briefly analyze them through the lens of Horkheimer, Adorno, and Benjamin.
A reflection paper for my Media Theory class for the lecture on Ideology as Instrumental Rationality through the Walter Benjamin essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and the Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer essay “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”
I found the following as the top three trending Twitter topics in the Philippines: 1) #KathNielSitcom; 2) #YujuDynamiteCover; 3) Happy Chuseok. The first two are hashtags, the third one is a greeting for a widely celebrated Korean holiday.
Using the framework of Horkheimer and Adorno, these trending topics clearly reflect how the culture industry serves as a form of public entertainment and a distraction from the society’s more important issues. Being on the top spot, the huge following of the KathNiel brand clearly shows fans’ anticipation for the love team’s upcoming sitcom. Meanwhile, as the Korean wave continues its integration into the Pinoy modern culture, the two runners-up featuring Korean singer Yuju doing a cover of the record-breaking K-pop hit “Dynamite” by BTS and the celebration of Chuseok prove how Filipinos in Twitter express their excitement on Korean trends.
For Benjamin’s essay, considering the time he wrote it, I understand where he was coming from. However, for me, his concerns on the mechanical reproduction of art and the aura are not as simple as they used to be. While it’s true that there’s still much more to be desired with an original these days, for me, making a fan-made work or even a celebrity doing a song cover means their works can form auras of their own, while the economic issue of “a copy” riding on the marketability of “an original” is worth another discussion.
Overall, this reflection paper reminded me of how I viewed Hollywood around two decades ago as an intricate factory with the different pop-culture platforms carefully weaved together for the glory of capitalism. This has just been substantiated by what I learned from these readings.
Benjamin, W., & Underwood, J. A. (2012). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. In Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks. (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 37-49.
Horkheimer, M., & Adorno, T. (2012). The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. In Media and Cultural Studies: Keyworks. (2nd ed.). Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 53-74.
Worksheet on ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno