Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Frankfurt School and the 'Radio Project'

The quotes below are taken from an excerpt, called 'The Frankfurt School and Political Correctness', which itself was taken from a larger work called 'The New Dark Age' by Michael Minnicino. They came to mind last week as I was watching and listening to the parade of (Freemason) Simon Cowell clones and major label 'superstars' (such as Jay Z, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams and Lily Allen) at the Brits.
Of course 1939 was prior to the explosion of television but it's safe to assume that all they learnt on the 'Radio Project' was put to good use (and greater effect) in its development.
"Despite the official gloss, the activities of the Radio Project make it clear that its purpose was to test empirically the [Theodor] Adorno - [Walter] Benjamin thesis that the net effect of the mass media could be to atomize and increase lability--what people would later call "brainwashing."
"In 1939, one of the numbers of the quarterly Journal of Applied Psychology was handed over to Adorno and the Radio Project to publish some of their findings. Their conclusion was that Americans had, over the last twenty years, become "radio-minded," and that their listening had become so fragmented that repetition of format was the key to popularity. The play list determined the "hits"--a truth well known to organized crime, both then and now--and repetition could make any form of music or any performer, even a classical music performer, a "star." As long as a familiar form or context was retained, almost any content would become acceptable. "Not only are hit songs, stars, and soap operas cyclically recurrent and rigidly invariable types," said Adorno, summarizing this material a few years later, "but the specific content of the entertainment itself is derived from them and only appears to change. The details are interchangeable."
"The obvious point is this: the profoundly irrational forms of modern entertainment--the stupid and eroticized content of most TV and films, the fact that your local Classical music radio station programs Stravinsky next to Mozart--don't have to be that way. They were designed to be that way. The design was so successful, that today, no one even questions the reasons or the origins."

For an insight into the Frankfurt School and its history I'd recommend reading the rest.

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