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14 OCTOBER 2017

Media and Interpellation

"Many theorists have taken Althusser's notion of ideology and interpellation, shifted the focus away from the state, and applied it to various kinds of media texts. In this vein, cultural theorists such as Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno have argued that the homogeneity of mass media interpellate passive subjects who desire reoccurring tropes and predictable story lines which only serve to further stultify them (1979). 5 They are particularly sympathetic to those exploited in capitalist society, lamenting how 'capitalist production so confines them, body and soul, that they fall helpless victim to what is offered them.' (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1979:8). Yet the common people's acquiesce to the culture industry only perpetuates their conditions, and Adorno and Horkheimer proceed to argue, 'immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities' (Adorno and Horkheimer, 1979:8). Like Althusser, Adorno and Horkheimer argue that the proletariat submit to ideologies that interpellate them as passive, and thus comply with their own domination. Similarly, David Gauntlett describes how 'interpellation occurs when a person connects with a media text: when we enjoy a magazine or TV show, for example, this uncritical consumption means that the text has interpellated us into a certain set of assumptions, and caused us to tacitly accept a particular approach to the world.' (Gauntlett, 2002: 27). Here, Gauntlett seems to echo Adorno and Horkheimer's argument that media consumers unquestioningly accept a medium's subject positioning of them as passive viewers."

(Cindy Nguyen, The Chicago School of Media Theory)



acquiesce • capitalist machinery • capitalist production • capitalist society • Chicago School of Media Theory • common people • cultural theorists • culture industry • David Gauntlett • domination • helpless victim • homogeneity of mass media • ideologiesideologyinterpellationLouis Althusser • manipulative media techniques • mass media homogeneity • mass media manipulation • Max Horkheimer • media consumers • media textpassive consumption • passive subjects • passive viewers • predictable story lines • proletariat • reoccurring tropes • stultify • subjugationTheodor Adorno • uncritical consumption • unquestioningly accept


Simon Perkins

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