The More We Have, The Less We See

According to Adorno and Horkheimer the culture industry and cultural goods are used to manipulate mass society into docility. I find this idea to be very prevalent in our society today. With the amount of goods we surround ourselves with every day, we are becoming docile. We would rather surround us with things and products that make us happy than argue and stand out against the grain of society. This is clearly shown when George W. Bush spoke about the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. In his speech he told the American public to “go shopping”. He as our current president of the time knew that shopping would calm the nerves of the American people. He knew that it was something that made us a docile society.

With the use of crisis mapping, it is using social media and online web use to show the crises happening in the world. It’s putting into perspective that there are more things going on in the world then we see in our day to day lives. Typically, we see what we want to see. We see the glitz and glam of Hollywood or the terrorist attacks in foreign countries or anything that does not concern ourselves. We surround ourselves with the belief that nothing bad can happen to us. With this mindset, we begin to become desensitized to the atrocities that happen in our world. Because we surround ourselves so heavily with products and surround ourselves in the culture industry, that we begin to become blind to all the issues that are in the world. The products we use, we think things are “proper and right” in our world; however that’s not always the case. More often than not it’s not the case. With the crisis mapping, it is taking a product we use each day and using it to bring out social justice and aid in the world. It puts the issues into the forefront of our minds whenever we come across one of these maps.

A women surrounded by all the products she has obtained through her use of coupons.

I agree with the idea that our culture is one of a cultural industry and has begun to be seen as a one dimensional society. Our society is heavily focused around the idea of consumption. As Americans, we want more and we want as much as we possibly can get. With this mindset, our society can be seen as one dimensional because we are only focused on one thing; that of consuming and obtaining cultural goods. We can see this demonstrated in television programs such as the TLC show “Extreme Couponing” were the people use coupons to buy as many products possible for a small amount. In shows like these, these people aren’t using all of the products they buy, and they buy so many of the products that it wouldn’t be possible for them to use all of it. These people are focused on the product they buy, rather than anything else; they are trapped in the cultural industry. These ideas of the culture industry and the one dimensional society ties in with the ideas brought forth by Adorno, Horkheimer and Marcuse.

Overall, our society has become desensitized to the problems in our world. We surround ourselves with things that make us happy and that make us forget about the problems in our world.

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Viewing White American Privileges & Oppression of Ethnicity and Race

I am a part of a Christian ministry group on the Washington State University campus known as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I’ve been a part of this group since the beginning of my freshman year. When I first became a part of this group, race and ethnicity never came across as an issue. However, the summer after my freshman year, I went on a 2 week urban mission project in Tacoma Washington. Basically what I did was work within the impoverished community found in Tacoma. I met many people during these two weeks. One thing that stood out was when I was working in a soup kitchen with a few other people from WSU. What I noticed was the high count of African American people who came into the kitchen. But even seeing that, I still never thought much of race being a problem in my community and in the institutions I found myself in. At the beginning of week 2, we were sent out and “lived” on the streets for 24 hours. We had to find places to stay and find food to eat without any aid and money. We ended up back at the soup kitchen for lunch that day. As we sat with the people we had met the prior week, we began to get to know them more personally. I began to see that some people were at the soup kitchen because they were indeed homeless, and the majority of them were African American. They had told me stories of how they lost their jobs and houses and had no family to turn too. They told me about how they were oppressed because of their ethnicity and how they would be given dirty looks in a grocery store or on the street corner form people passing by. Some of the people told me that they would be followed in stores because the owners were afraid that they would “cause problems”. Those 2 weeks were eye opening in terms of how race and ethnicity affect the people in our own communities.

In December of 2012, I took a trip to St. Louis, MO and met more homeless people living on the street. They again were mostly African American people. They told myself and my friend’s similar stories of how they had lost their jobs and were unable to find work or a place to stay. I watched as people would look down on these people simply because of the color of their skin.

From these two specific experiences, I began to see how privileged I truly am simply because I am a white American. I believe that the things Peggy McIntosh wrote about in her essay on white privilege are still very valid in today’s day and age. People are still being oppressed for the color of their skin. White people are still being treated better than those who have darker skin. It’s still prevalent that our skin color will affect how we are treated and what we can do. White people in today’s time are able to receive better benefits than others. They are able to find housing and jobs without much of a problem. They are able to walk through a store without being followed by the workers. They are able to walk down the street without people moving to the other side of the road because they aren’t afraid of “what the black person might do to them”.

People have privileges of all kinds. Each gender has their own set of privileges just as each ethnic group has their own set of privileges. With people of different sexualities, each have their own privilege. With people who are heterosexual, they don’t have to fret about being oppressed because they fit into the societal norm. Those who are bisexual are able to have those opportunities of being with whomever. They have more freedom in finding a partner and are less likely in being oppressed for their sexuality. There’s still a lot of oppression for those who are identified as homosexuals.

In Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ song “Same Love” We see that those who classify as homosexual then you will be treated different than those who are heterosexual.

Privileges are different in every aspect we see in life. People are oppressed for a variety of different reasons. But the question is, how do we prevent the oppression of other ethnicities and how do we begin to treat individuals with the same privileges they deserve?

Color-Blind Racism

In this video clip, colorblind racism is demonstrated. However, it is done in a subtle way, leaving the viewer questioning whether or not the advertisement was indeed racist of not. We see a crowd of people surrounding a man. The crowd is a crowd of cheering, rowdy black men and women. The man within this crowd is a white man. The clip shows that the crowd of rowdy, excited black people is unable to be tamed, that they are by nature, loud and excitable people. The only thing able to sooth this crowd was for the white man to offer them chicken.

We don’t tend to think about the color of the crowd or the skin tone of the man within the crowd. What we normally see is simply another advertisement trying to get you to come into their restaurant to eat their chicken. Even though we typically don’t “see” the skin colors of the people in this advertisement, the message is still getting across to the viewers. The message being conveyed is that this brand of chicken can sooth even the wildest crowds, and the wildest crowds being that of colored people. The subtlety of this advertisement doesn’t leave the viewer thinking that this video clip is racist.

In this case, this advertisement is an Australian advert which shows that racism is not based in one culture alone, but is shown throughout a variety of cultures throughout the world. However, based on each culture, these advertisements and various racist videos may be seen differently and may not be seen as racist at all.

Pretending that this video clip does not demonstrate racism leaves the viewer as naive. If a viewer chooses not to believe such a video is conveying a racist belief, they will continue to fall victim to their colorblind ideologies. People need to see and understand that racism is still present.