From the cultural to the consumer culture

The world has gone through various episodes of different kinds that, apart from reflecting the animality of the breed that is raised by being reasonable, shapes and establishes the culture of societies, today, massed in the same society, called “consumption”.


These events were characterized by being tragic and bloody, as millions of people died in search of freedom, the defense of their rights and a true democracy.

A massive mental programming

Such momentous events are the cause of political, economic and cultural changes, on a large scale, which at the same time produce a change in human relations and the way we communicate.

‘The Fall of the Berlin Wall’ is a clear example of the above; after the unification of Germany, the most direct consequences were suffered by the inhabitants of the former GDR, (German Democratic Republic) who due to the economic, technological and industrial delay of the eastern country and the custom of being guaranteed basic needs such as housing, energy or work, could not be adapted very well to the standard of living of the RFA (Federal Republic of Germany), because of the difference in wages and prices between the two states.

With the fall of the “wall of shame” (so called the event the American press) Berlin became a great homogeneous city. According to Néstor García Canclini, the great city creates patterns of uniformity, reshapes local habits and subordinates them to “modern” styles of work, dress and distraction;  also aspirations such as having a house of your own on a paved street, with light and water, near schools and health centers.

People full of rage, excitement and disbelief beat the wall to the end of it and when they met their neighbors, they intertwined their hands as a symbol of victory. And as they passed from one side to the other, they hugged each other without knowing each other, in what became one of the most revealing episodes of people’s hope of freedom.

The dream that the disappearance of this dividing boundary between two irreconcilable systems would bring stability and peace to the world lasted as a shooting star. Immediately there were from peaceful separations (such as Czechoslovakia in the Czech Republic and Slovakia) and quiet unions (such as the two Germanys) to nationalist, ethnic and interreligious wars (as in the former Yugoslavia).

The world, meanwhile, was stunned by the news. The Berlin Wall, a symbol of the fierce push that starred the United States for 40 years, capitalist, versus the Soviet Union, socialist, had fallen.

But soon after, with the demise of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, the effects of that collapse began to be felt in depth and overall. Free-market capitalism advanced without law or measure. The U.S. became, untalibanly, the greatest military power in history and in the plane of ideas there was only room for single thought. More subtle and gradual but, no less relentless was the change, even in process, of values and mentalities. (Diary ‘El Clarín’, 9 September 2004)

Even today, many former East German citizens miss certain things from the defunct ‘socialist state’, such as culture, citizen security, access to housing or the kind of social relations, without necessarily implying a lack of criticism of other features such as frequent oversupply.

This eastern nostalgia is called in Germany Ostalgie (a pun between Ost -this- and nostalgia). The film ‘Good bye, Lenin!’ is an illustration of this nostalgia. A recent survey of citizens of the defunct RDA stated that 76% of them thought that socialism was “a good misapplied idea” and up to 20%, expressly longing for the reconstruction of the Berln Wall.

The media plays a key role in these changes and, by affecting, obviously, also our way of communicating and even the way of life. With the capitalist model as a reference and, based on García Canclini’s theory of cultural policies, it is argued that film and television, in order to reach wide audiences and recover investments, promote spectacular narratives and intelligible to audiences of all cultures.

National references and local styles are dissolved in films, paintings and television series that increasingly resemble in Sao Paulo and Tokyo, New York and Mexico, Paris and Buenos Aires, and in the case cited, in Madrid and Berlin.

This massive audiovisual format, as a means of entertainment, is therefore relevant in the use of free time and is part of cultural consumption, where most commercial products and personal stereotypes are promoted. For example, people have stopped visiting the emblematic sites, going to shopping malls or staying in the house in front of the TV, the radio or the computer.

In a study noted in the document ‘Urban Cultural Policies in Latin America’ (G.  Canclini, 2004: 81), about the cultural consumption they made in Mexico City, a capital where, likewise, the consumerist model expired, they observed this loss of public use of emblematic places, but by another complementary process: the progressive replacing attendance at shows and gatherings in public places with the consumption of radio, television and video at home.

The study conducted a survey, the results of which show that the sector that relates to institutionalized culture does not reach 10%: cinema, theatre, concerts, ballrooms, etc., nor does that percentage exceed the range of those who claim to attend regularly to shows or parties in which popular cultures manifest.

In Spain, with all the reference to Francoism, the demonstration that mass media stars in changes at the social level, since they are structuring and configurating human relations, is complemented. Censorship and control were suffered censorship and control during the Franco dictatorship and there was no freedom of the press until 1977. In 1937, the State Delegation for Press and Propaganda was created.

In 1938, the Ministry of the Interior, led by Ramón Serrano Súñer, decreed the Press Law, a law of war that remained in force until 1966. In this way, the media transmitted the orders of the State, whether public or private. In 1939, the Official Register of Journalists was created and Franco had the number one license.

That same year, the EFE News Agency was created, which was a monopoly on the state in the distribution of information. In 1941 the Official School of Journalism was created, which required students to be militants of FET and JONS and in 1942, the Spanish Service of Auscultation of Public Opinion was born.

In 1942 the Documentary News (NODO) was created. Each documentary lasted 10 minutes and it was mandatory to screen before the films in all cinemas in Spain until 1975. Through the NODO the values of the regime were transmitted and the figure of the Warlord was exalted. For a text or advertisement to see the light, it had to go through censorship beforehand.

It was forbidden to write something that would damage the prestige of the nation, the Army or the government. In 1942 there was no talk of violence in football, black music or other foreign music. In addition, in all media the speeches of the Warlord had to be published. In 1951, the information policy of the regime around the Ministry of Information and Tourism was reorganized.

“Cultural industries are now the main resource for fostering mutual knowledge and cohesion among the many agencies and groups in which large cities are fragmented.” Nestor García Canclini.

From the cultural to the consumer culture
Source: Education  
July 14, 2019


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