Women in the Commodity Audience

Hi all,

I hope everyone’s had a great Spring Break so far!

In Eileen Meehan’s piece, Gendering the Commodity Audience: Critical Media Research, Feminism, and Political Economy, she notes that, in terms of television advertising, “The logic of profit should drive advertisers to demand shoppers regardless of the gender, social status, race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.,” but points out the disregard advertisers tend to have for audiences that do not fit the mold of white, wealthy, young, and male. This form of the commodity audience displaces women and minorities to daytime soap operas and Lifetime, creating a disconnect between the goals of capitalism and the reach of patriarchal systems.

Meehan says that, though women have always worked and are viewed by the patriarchy as the main shoppers of the household, advertisers have just recently clued into their buying power, placing makeup and car advertisements on the same channel, or combining soap operas with more action-packed adventures. What are some real world examples you can think of where advertisers have brought women and/or minorities into the commodity audience (even just a bit)? Do you think it’s possible, according to this article, for advertisers to promote equality, and dismantling of the patriarchy while also feeding their capitalistic interests?

photography + aura in this book I’m reading

I’m reading a book called White Noise for my Black Comedy class. It seems so far to be a commentary on the ideas of “post-modernism” Pretty early in the novel, this exchange takes place between Jack Gladney (a professor/department head of Hitler Studies who is obsessed with his fear of dying) and his friend: 

“What was the barn like before it was photographed?” asks the friend (who is the department head of popular culture). I thought this was interesting because of the use of “aura” and mentions of photography, like we got in Benjamin.


Mechanical Reproduction of Art in the Internet Age

Firstly, I want to apologize for how late this blog post is–earlier this week, I was very sick then went out of town for a comedy festival. Hopefully, people still have time to comment engage with this post before class tomorrow night! 


In XII, Benjamin asserts, “Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art.” If it is true that artworks have gone from being cult experiences, where few people had access to things like cave paintings or holy statues, to being interpreted based on their ease of exhibition and of reproduction, then it’s pretty easy to see that the very idea of what constitutes as “art” has shifted tremendously since the invention of the photograph. Benjamin points out that even after photography was invented, film was introduced another reproduction that, though it’s arguably less “real” than stage performances, reaches a huge audience.


Around Part X, Benjamin points out that with the rise of film and with the ease of publishing in the last century, the distinction between “author” and “public” became blurry. This made me think about the Internet. Not only is there ease of exhibition unlike anything the world has ever seen, but there are also millions of channels through which people can express their ideas and create art.


What do you think Benjamin would have to say about Internet things like memes (easily reproducible, and difficult to trace back to a singular author) and Facebook Live videos? Are they art just because of the large audience? How has the Internet changed contemporary perceptions of art and in what ways is this change similar to/different from the changes that Benjamin points out stemming from the introduction of photography and film?