Citizen Kane Analysis

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With the emergence of mass media in the twentieth century, generations of Americans have tried to make sense of its immense power, and discern between the gifts and obstacles it presents. Ironically, mass media is often used to criticize itself, acting as the ideological battleground where opinions on the subject are both aimed and fired. The 1941 film, Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Welles examines one man 's impact on the news industry, ans later pieces such as Edward R. Murrow 's "Chicago Speech to Radio and Television News Directors Association" in 1958 and Barbara Kruger 's 1987 (Untitled) I shop therefore I am print continue the tradition of analyzing why Americans treat mass media in the manner they do. Through these three pieces,…show more content…
In Barbara Kruger 's (Untitled) I shop therefore I am print, she extends her criticism to that of mass media in a broader sense. Her print is a warped version of philosopher René Descartes ' observation "I think, therefore I am." While Descartes ' original statement speaks of finding oneself through the careful consideration of the facts, Kruger 's use of parallelism ironically diminishes the act of contemplation and replaces it with impulsive consumption. Since this phrase has a high historical profile, it has become revered in Western culture with little further deliberation; Kruger builds off this idea of blind acceptance of Descartes ' phrase to reflect how Americans place unwarranted importance on consumption and materialism. A similar theme is found in Citizen Kane: in an effort to find happiness and acceptance Kane attempts to take refuge in collecting mere things rather than establishing secure relationships. This sort of blatant adherence to materialism is a product of capitalism broadcast to Americans by mass media, which was common criticism found in 1980s counterculture. While Kruger 's interpretation of capitalism and the public is severe disapproval, Murrow expresses hope in the relationship between mass media and capitalism. Murrow believes that mass media can become an intelligent means to educate people "inside of the existing framework" and "redound to the credit of those who finance and program it" as well (507). This more optimistic take on capitalism in America is not echoed in Kruger 's piece, however. By having a grayscale, disembodied hand hold the slogan in the print, Kruger creates a sense of anonymity associated with media that feeds people messages
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