Emil Stjernholm-Billing Commodifying Transnationalism:The Bridge, Television and The Culture Industry Today Research Master Media Studies Core Course I: Classic Texts in Media Theory Instructors: Dr. Thomas Poell and Dr. Jaap Kooijman Universiteit van Amsterdam 5 December 2011
Emil Stjernholm-Billing* This paper analyzes the relationship between capital and culture inthe age of globalization. Focus is put on one specificmedia, television, and emphasis is put on one specific site ofcontestation: the Danish-Swedish co-production The Bridge(Bron/Broen, 2011). By revisiting Theodor Adorno and MaxHorkheimer’s The Culture Industry, this essay explores andrevitalizes the question what structures and strategies the cultureindustry relies upon today?
Emil Stjernholm-BillingThe Bridge (Bron/Broen, 2011) revolves around a spectacular murder––taking place on the middle of the Öresund bridge betweenCopenhagen, Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden––which subsequently forcesDanish and Swedish police officials to cooperate to find the killer.
I will revisit the concept of the culture industry, primarily as it is theorizedin two texts: first, I analyze Adorno’s essay “On PopularMusic”, published in Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences; andsecond “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as MassDeception”, written with Max Horkheimer and published in Dialectic ofEnlightenment.
Emil Stjernholm-Billing* This essay takes one particular medium as its object of analysis:television. Focus is put on two particularly salient negotiations:first, in the form of new technology; and second, the upsurge ofregional commodification. Both highlight many of the tensions thetelevision industry today faces.
Emil Stjernholm-BillingTechnological advancements and new media practices profoundly havealtered the way our lives are constructed, and consequently these changescan are also visible in the culture industry. For instance, the televisionmedia, dating back to the 1930s, now utilizes new media forms, in termsof online broadcasting, interactive participation and transnationalnarratives.
Emil Stjernholm-BillingCommodification? Regional marketing is getting increasinglyimportant as tourism appears as a concrete way of motivating privatecapital investors as well as regional funding.Standardization? The television industry economically depends on thecreation of travelling concepts. The Bridge becomes The Tunnel?
Emil Stjernholm-BillingProvisional findings:The Bridge highlights some of the tensions the culture industryfaces in the age of globalization. Here, the rise of newtechnology and new patterns of communication are centralthemes, both on a textual level and in terms of production. Atthe same time, the omnipresence of Adorno’s key notions––standardization and commodification––underlines that therelationship between culture and capital remains a significantone.
Emil Stjernholm-Billing Works Cited:Adorno, Theodor W, and Max Horkheimer. "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception." Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2002. Print.Adorno, Theodor W. “On Popular Music” (1941) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader. Ed. John Storey. Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2009: 63-74. Print.Bolter, J. David, and Richard A. Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1999. Print.The Bridge. Dir. Henrik Georgsson, Charlotte Sieling, and Lisa Siwe. Danmarks Radio, Filmlance International AB and Sveriges Television, 2011.