Jan 03

A User’s Guide To The Culture Industry

FT/9 comments • 6,295 views

Part Two: Thrills (Golden Omelettes)

If anything were to justify Adorno’s claim that the culture industry just serves up endless repetitions of the same product, it might be the steadfast refusal of a certain type of boy band to admit what century they’re living in. Sporting bland good looks and winsome harmonies, every summer turns up another straggling bunch of runts rehashing past pop pleasures, and demanding to be taken seriously: ‘Don’t believe the hype! We mean it, man!’.

But I don’t mean the piss-poor child-men playing submissive to their management’s appetite for destruction in your Boyzone or Westlife’s. These are formulae which continually update and evolve: witness Busted, whose lovelorn public school boy appeal depends on dropping precisely the urban and street clichés which dogged the wave before – Triple 8 anyone?

No, the real regressives are the trad-rock combos reared on a diet of Byrds and Monkees, dreaming of a golden age when men were real men, girls were real girls, and pop was real pop. This year’s model are The Thrills: catchy guitar tunes which sound good on the radio, shaggy lanky youths who look good on cable, and an album which is just gagging to be described as the sound of the summer: and of last summer, the one before that, the one before that, and a whole bunch more receding back into the past.

Or The Coral, whose last single ‘sounds like it could have been made at any time in the last fifty years’ in the words of Mark Radcliffe on Radio 1. And boy, are these bands made for Radio 1, still the pop classicist’s station of choice, despite the creation of 6 music – effectively Radio Uncut, so lame are its material, its presenters and its reach.

We’re talking about something more than just the analogue studio fetishism of the likes of the White Stripes; and more than the charismatic revivalism that characterised Britpop. No, these are bands who seem to have taken on some Herculean challenge to stop time dead in its tracks, to depress the cosmic Pause button and see what happens.

Sure, inner-city kids have been getting high on the crack-cocaine of the west coast mythology for years – sun, surfing and shaggy haircuts. But if there’s a more or less unbroken line running from early Creation records to Teenage Fanclub to the Thrills, that’s not the legacy these self-appointed cultural curators are going to acknowledge. The corpses they’re digging up were laid to rest thirty years ago or more.


  1. 1
    Admin on 30 Aug 2006 #

    what is the etiquette of copying and pasting the entire article elsewhere?

  2. 2
    CarsmileSteve on 30 Aug 2006 #

    may i suggest sending in the marines?

  3. 3
    alext on 30 Aug 2006 #

    Given I’ve been pondering the question of having what were sort of working notes for my now-published book still available online, I have to say I’m a bit unimpressed by this. If they’d linked I wouldn’t be so bothered. Although I can’t quite work out what the site is, or who it’s for.

  4. 4
    alext on 30 Aug 2006 #

    Can we just replace the essay with a giant ad for Adorno: A Guide For The Perplexed?

  5. 5
    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør on 30 Aug 2006 #

    can we not just retitle alex’s book “ADORNO & HOFMANN: STEAL THIS GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED”?

  6. 6
    Admin on 31 Aug 2006 #

    if you feel strongly go to the site and “Postar um comentário” – it’s a blogger site.

  7. 7
    polycarpo on 8 Dec 2006 #

    1. As You all have seen, I do not (or did not) know about “the etiquette of copying and pasting [an] entire article” in the web. But I should care about it. And I will. The the question about the webetiquette is a good and necessary one.
    2. As You all could not know, I really do not care about the marines. I really even do not care if they die on a war or – better said – on a invasion.
    3. it’s just a blog for myself, a kind of notebook on which I put some interesting links. This time: an interesting text, all the text and not just a part of it.
    4. I’m perplexed that it can cause perplexity. But I’m not so sure about the title. The book probably deserves a better one.
    5. I would recommend as subtitle: don’t steal this guide, read it! NO need for perplexity. By the way, the guide hasn’t been really stolen. It has been to be read by me, only by me. It’s here to be read by all. I think it’s good and generous to publish the text on the web, so that people can read it.
    6. A second good sugestion. But ‘if if the mountain doesn’t come to Mehemet, Mehemet will go to the mountain’. I’m neither a mountain nor a celestial fiction. But shall a female allah bless we all.
    7. I maybe should be sorry about a possible neglection of the webetiquette. The text is not in the blog anymore. There’s still just a link to it. If you want, Thomas, I’ll surely remove it from there. But I’d like to let it there just for the case that I make the blog public, so that other people can have access to your valuable text. In times when culture is converted into commodities, we should remember Adorno. Neither the nuisance nor the severeness. But the warning dystopian message he has sent to our times.

    Kind, freaky and Best regards.


  8. 9

    […] THOMSON, A – A User’s Guide To The Culture Industry [03] […]

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page