Benjamin Vs Adorno

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Despite both being from the same school of thought, the Frankfurt School, Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno found themselves debating the value of art in a world on the brink of war. The basis of Benjamin’s and Adorno’s argument was not a critique of the art itself, but rather ever-growing trend of the reproduction of art. For Benjamin, as described in, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, the reproduction of art and the novelty of film, which stemmed from technological marvels, was a natural progression and a detractor to the growing fascist presence. However, for Adorno, as discussed in “The Fetish Character of Music and the Regression in Listening”, the simplification of art, specifically music, to a mass producible…show more content…
Benjamin did not see technology as harmful to art as he believed that “a work of art has always been reproducible” (Benjamin 218). Since Benjamin saw that art was inherently reproducible, no matter the age, the presence of technology only ameliorated art as a whole. Despite Benjamin’s acceptance of the mechanical presence in art, his counterpart Adorno did not welcome the decaying presence of the aura as readily.
Adorno’s essay, written two years later, was both a response and a critique of Benjamin’s piece. Adorno, although not directly addressing the aura, did not see the aura’s degradation at the hands of technology as beneficial to the progression of art. Unlike Benjamin who focused on film, Adorno focused his piece on the changing in the music industry as a result of technology. Consequently, Adorno saw that a capitalist society was capable of burgeoning as a result of the technological progress. In response to the proliferation of music, Adorno saw that the appreciation for the music itself shifted towards the money used on behalf of the consumer: “The consumer is really worshipping the money he has paid for the ticket” (Adorno 278). Rather than music maintaining its identity as an art form, music was transformed into an industry as a result of consumerism. Adorno saw the lack of appreciation for music as an art form the result of the of the ever-growing technological presence. Technology
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In his article “The Naysayers,” Alex Ross analyzes the debate that looms between Benjamin and Adorno. Ross concludes that “if Adorno were to look upon the cultural landscape of the twenty-first century, [Adorno] might take grim satisfaction in seeing his fondest fears realized” (Ross). That fear being is Adorno’s expressed concern that music was progressing as another tool for the capitalist society. Unfortunately, this concern of Adorno’s has become all too realized, particularly in the pop music industry. Artists like along the lines of Justin Bieber and Kesha are manufactured products. These artists are property of their corporate entities. Such entities do not have the goal of entertainment, but rather, profit. “All ‘light’ and pleasant art has become illusory and mendacious” (Adorno 274). The music industry, according to Adorno, is essentially a façade. The music itself becomes a front for the profit driven production companies, and, as such, a mere product of the capitalist
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