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 specific media,television, and emphasis is put on one specific site of contestation:the Danish-Swedish co-production The Bridge (Bron/Broen, 2011).By revisiting Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s The CultureIndustry, this essay explores and revitalizes the question whatstructures and strategies the culture industry relies upon today?
Emil Stjernholm-BillingThe Bridge (Bron/Broen, 2011) revolves around a spectacular murder––taking place on the middle of the Öresund bridge between Copenhagen,Denmark, and Malmö, Sweden––which subsequently forces Danish andSwedish 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 Popular Music”,published in Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences; and second “TheCulture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, written with MaxHorkheimer and published in Dialectic of Enlightenment.
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 of regionalcommodification. Both highlight many of the tensions the televisionindustry 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 motivatingprivate capital 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 in terms of text and in terms of production. At thesame 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.