Who has more power, the media or audience? This question has caused many debates, one including Theodor Adorno and John Fiske. They are not the only theorists to debate over this question but they both represent their points clearly. Adorno being the theorist to believe that the mass media has more power over its audience. Fiske being the other theorist believing the complete opposite to Adorno, that the audience have more power over the mass media.
Theodor Adorno born, September 11 1903 had a strong feeling that the power of media overpowered its audience. Adorno's was born and spent most of his childhood in Frankfurt, Germany where he became a member of Frankfurt school to study social research. The school was mainly German, Jewish intellectuals who fled from Frankfurt to New York this was when the Nazis rose to power, 1930s. I feel Adorno's opinion, that the media have more people than its audience was influenced massively by Hitler and his strong propaganda. Also, Adorno was shocked greatly by the difference in cultures when he arrived in America as he realised that the media had such a big influence on American workers that they were not even being rewarded for their work but becuase the media was so good such as, films, songs and radio were so interesting and entertaining they didnt realise that they were believing everything the media was feeding them.
John Fiske was born, 1939 in Britain and he was educated at Cambridge University. He then moved to Western Australia, where he became general editor of Cultural Studies at Curtin University this was during the 1980s. His interests are popular culture, mass culture and television studies. Fiske's theory is the opposite to Adorno's, He feels that the audience has more power than the media. Fiske believes that each audience are individually developed and that they also have different backgrounds and identities which allows them to give things within media there own unique view.
Adorno published many books but one he published with his colleague Max Horkheimer in, 1947 which was called 'Dialectic of Enlightment' has a part involved called 'the cultural industry, this shows their deceptions on mass media and also, their opinion on the impact that it has had on society. Adorno and Horkheimer refer to the mass media as the cultural industry they felt that the mass media were just making too similar products they also seem to explain that the German intellectuals were disturbed by how the media is just producing manufactured products and how it is destroying culture as its all the same. They purposely refer to certain things to exceed there point that this culture is not a culture produced by people but by the media.
John Fiske also published a number of books, he published one called, 'Understanding Popular Culture' this was published in 1989. This book just explains his theory that the audience are all unique individuals and that people have their own opinion on the mass media, this is explained throughout the book. For example, one person can listen to a song and feel different emotions to another person or one person could even dislike it where the another person likes it, this is the same with all types of media. However, Adorno feels the mass media are just producing the same products so that everybody can enjoy them. Fiske feels if the media has failures there can not be a formula, if there was a formulae then every product which the media produces would be a success and there wouldn’t be any unsuccessful types of media.
Fiske believes slightly with one thing Adorno says but not to full extent. Adorno says that ''media products may seem different, but this is an illusion''. Fiske feels that they are not all the same but he thinks that, many products are similar but they all have different meanings and the audience can appeal to them different as they are unique. A comedy band called 'Axis of Awesome' recognised Adorno's theory and made a song including many songs from the last 40 years but only using 4 chords, this proved adorno's theory to be correct because it shows that the music media industry just produce songs that all song very similar. However, the songs 'Axis of Awesome' used mostly all from the pop genre so there is an arguement for Fiske to argue his opinion.
Adorno and Horkheimer feel that the media takes up a lot peoples time so there is very little time for people to socialise this appeals to the modern context aswell because today in the 21st century within one house hold most people have a television in there room so if one member of a family is watching something another doesn’t want to they can just escape to their room to watch what they want. This leads to there not being a lot of time even for families to socialise together as the media plays such a big part in peoples lives. However, Fiske feels that the media allows us to socialise, this is true to an extent because you very often hear people talking about things that have occurred within the media including, newspapers, television programmes and even magazines. In conclusion to this, Theodor Adorno and John Fiske both have opposite views on the media but I can understand both of their views. I believe that some media products are similar within a genre but people do have different opinions on then, this is what makes people different, because the media has a massive influence on a lot of people if they all had the same opinion everybody would dress, talk and act the same, although their environment would have some influence on them but this is not true because even within one community you have many different people.