Enlightenment as Mass Deception is not an easy text. It includes Freudan psychoanalysis and Marxism
among other presuppositions from Frankfurt School. Black Mirror may help to understand or at least enter
to the text. Black Mirror series, specifically 15.000.000 Merits, has powerful sequences and dialogs which
are clearly metaphors of something else. The question of this inquiry is: could a chapter of a serial be a
usefull tool to comprehend a book? Could 15.000.000 Merits help to read Enlightenment as Mass
Deception and enter to Frankfurt School world of significate?

The aim of this brief investigation is to provide a tool to comprehend Frankfurt school while connecting two
major works: M. Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno's book with Charlie Brooker's serial. A third and subordinate
aim is the attempt to find connections between Dialectic of Enlightenment and another obscure member of
Frankfurt School: Walter Benjamin. We will focus in aspects related with culture and media.

W. Benjamin uses an aphoristic style which requires great attention in order to perceive its theoretical
implications. Just when relating its books with another works its sense comes to the light. Here Benjamin
will be confronted with himself as well as with Dialectic of Enlightenment, stressing what is closely related
with culture and media.

1. Experience and Technical Reproduction

Is it the case that culture effect depends on its context? Sussan Buck-Morss asks in her work Walter
Benjamin. Revolutionary Writer 1: Is it enough to read Communist Manifest to become a commited
revolutionary? Benjamin's answer is no.. And Benjamin's answer is no. The transmission of cultural objects
is highly significant. We know it is a provocation to set up with this words, but one should not forget that
Benjamin's comprehension of culture was influenced and raised up in connection with Marxism.

''In bourgeois times, historical transmission of culture was developed as if their objects were
commodities to be sold and owned, rather than lived. Each value potencially revolutionary
remained latent. Culture seems then something cosificated. Its history would be nothing else than
the debris left by memorable moments which haven't been even close to any authentic
experience of men's consciousness, that is political experience. The purpose of materialistic
education was to bring revolutionary class the strength to bring to the light those cultural
tresures at the back of mankind (...) and have these in this way in the hands.'' 2

In order to free cultural objects vivence which is not available for the ones who relate with culture as if it
were a row of cultural commodities there is the need of a change. Benjamin develops a method divided in
two steps. ''The first step was destructive: the preservation of cultural objects in its alienation from the
historical and literary bourgeois apparatus had as a cost the sacrifice of its revolutionary value use. Equally
as political revolution needed the shatter of bourgeois state, cultural apparatus had to be destroyed.
Specifically, the bourgeois schematism of history as an end needed to be swept by the dialects. 3

''But it was cultural platform what was shattered, not the material elements. When these were
disjoined from the continuum of history, freed from the codificant structures which surrounded
them, it became necessary to recapture them in a new cognitive net before they disappeared
completely in history. That was the constructive moment of dialectics. The elements from past
cultures were rescued and redeemed, gathered into new constelations that were connected with
the present as dialectical images. It is not like the former brings light upon the present or the past,
but rather that the image (dialectical image) is that in which appear in a constellation both the

1 Susan Buck-Morss Walter Benjamin. Escritor revolucionario, Interzona Editora Buenos Aires 2005. We made the
translation from English to Spanish. English original version is not avaiable for us.
2 Op. cit. p. 17
3 Op. cit. p. 18

''The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the fabric of tradition. Digital edition from marxists. and malefical in Middle Age. The Work of Art on the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Former and first works of art used to have a ritual function. how is it possible that something close seems distant? Aura's purpose is to stress cultual function of objects. is exhibition. however close it may be. Venus statue used to be venerated in religious rituals during Ancient Greek Era.4 The issue is: ''if the base determines. or cultual. p. it is the same in the one who sleeps with his stomach overly full: his stomach will find its expression in the content of what is dreamed. It is bourgeois dream. cit. cit. A Short History of Photography and Author as a Producer. We have seen the political considerations of Benjamin regarding the change of the subject and its perception in the era where ''cultural objects '' are reproduced technically. attractive. others used rather implicitly. This is what allows to make observations on the change of the object. was seen as a cultual object by Greek society. Selection of theoretical elements from Frankfurt School 2. ''We define the aura of the latter as the unique phenomenon of a distance. It could be called ritual function. Benjamin stresses not the object. not proletariat. as Benjamin does. in more or less balance. different. The economical conditions under which society exists reach expression in the superstructure.'' (TWA. Contemporary era is the era of the decay of the aura. to have things easy and fast. 5 2. neither the subject. But this is not to say that much. which the discomfort of an overly full stomach expresses". But how are this considerations reached? Aura is one of the key concepts found in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction 6. (original from 1936) 7 Op cit. 101 6 Walter Benjamin. the same object. 4 Op. which is historical. Work of Art on the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. The desire of contemporary masses isto bring things “closer”. At the same time the product should be new. Inwards historical eras collective perception is changing. The relation between an object and the subject is called perception. opposite to the last one until the extent that it is secular. but this determination is not a simple reflex. 2005. but it is part of it. Random House. to inquiry the change of perception itself. Mentioned works are: One-Way Street. in certain way. p. Some are read and quotated explicitely.'' 7. It seems a contradiction. Each object is comprehended within a context. Each object has a history which determines itself. Superstructure is the expression of the base. The rellevant question regarding the study of history is: what are the social transformations that lie behind those changes? In IV part of TWA Venus statue representation is used as an example of the change of perception and the rellevance of representation upon the object or subject itself. Part III . 20 5 Op. This function does not have its boundaries in religion. but not its reflex. This functions are defined as poles. Another function. It is defined as the near presence of something that is far away. However. former and the present. IV) Each object might have two functions. albeit both of them are always present. how then (…) should this determination be characterized? As its expression. the superstructure as what could be thought and experienced. and in the other hand. fast food and sofa television. but rather perception itself.1 Walter Benjamin At this point we will use three Benjamin works. The case is that the same Venus statue. which is denigrated in technical reproduciton era. but the comprehension we have is in the form of a

Aura is degenerated in contemporary era. and if culture becomes industry. What is the need that cultural products fit? Nature is understood by cultural means. use reason to submit nature. Adorno. the distinctions are emphasized and extended (…) Everybody must behave (as if spontaneously) in accordance with his previously determined and indexed level. Cultural homogenity has political consequences. The truth that they are just business is made into an ideology in order to justify the rubbish they deliberately produce. (…) ''Movies and radio no longer pretend to be art. 349) Cruel system is feeded and reproduced by itself. which are impossible to fulfill. neutralise and make oneself sure to be safe in it. horkheimer. the more the better. Even the aesthetic activities of political opposites are one in their enthusiastic obedience to the rythm of the iron system. Culture is opposite to nature. 349 9 Íbid. and its only imperative is development. Technical component in culture is justified by the huge audience in contrast with only a few producers. To surpass this limit is the puruse to make nature obey our will. this is the aim: business. and between different requirements themselves. and everything else falls into a second term. In its double sense. Art is not auratic. T. to be fast. 8 T. 351 . both individual and collective. the constant contradiction between different impositions and nature. Films. A few producers and milions of consumers would explain the need of reproduction techniques in cultural industries. to get revenews and have profits. Something is provided for all so that none may scape. hence animals. it is the attempt to say something about it. cit. ''Enlightenment as Mass Deception'' Nature is diverse and disorganised. Horkheimer The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as mass deception The Open University Press. p. Regarding cinema it is obvious that its funtion is to be exhibited. ''Culture now impresses the same stamp on everything. its costs presuppose a product meant to be spread.. at some level. low production costs and high revenues may confirm this diagnosis written at 1942. or stories and magazines in different prize ranges. ''Market differentiations such as those of A and B films. We try to understand nature.W. Aesthethic world has felt in this logic. quantitative change of massive reproduction brang qualitative consequences. and. and the more. its status seems to be in danger. p. to increase. there is almost any cultual function on it. 10 Collective is seen as audience. and choose the category of mass product turned out for this type''.Work of art on behalf to its exhibitive function and towards to a mass tends to universal and replaces what is unique in itself. there is no guarantee of connection or comprehension in it. We are humans. but also homogenize. the better. 349) This false identity is shown in publicity requirements. London 1977. If the aim is delliberately just to make money.'' (p. and.2 M. may not be culture anymore. One just needs to see how many McDonald's are situated nearby a gym. The danger from the side of art is that exhibitive art is not autonomous. Exhibition pole may be seen at this point. The cricle of manipulation and retroactive need started claiming consumer's needs and only grows the system even stronger. M. depend not so much on subject matter as on classifying. to be big. organizing and labelling consumers. Adorno. at the same time. depends on the audience. subject's perception and the autonomous and objectified fine arts. Denigrated culture is homogenizing ''The strike unity between macrocosm and microcosm presents men with a model of their culture: the false identity of the general and the particular. the desire of the spectator wills fulfill them. 10 Op. progress. nature. The next step after trying to comprehend it is not only to understand it. it is not the unique manifestation of a fareness. Mass and art in technical reproduction era are becoming closer one to each other. They call themselves industries'' 9 Culture and industry seem to be exclusive terms. Capitalist acuires powe over society through the ownership of technology.'' 8 (p. radio and magazines make up a system which is uniform as a whole and in every part. 2. Products such as reality shows defined by low quality.

16 Íbid . objective aperture. ''The man with leisure has to accept what the culture manufacturers offer him''. punished. yet divide from its precise detail without losing the thread of the history. seems to reherse rather than deny. by all kind of devices. or does not meet with approval at first sight'' Albeit. 11 Culture products are meant not make the audience active. 1977. it became rebellious and. As it is shown in Brief History of Photography. asserted itself as free expression. p. the perception of own's life. as a vehicle of protest against the organization. if we come back to Benjamin. ''The art historians and guardians of culture who complain of the extinction in the West of a basic style-determining power are wrong. Massive consom of cultural comodities. 15 T. and even more with cinema. ''The whole world is made to pass through the filter of the culture industry (…) The more intensely and flawlessly his techniques duplicate empirical objects. p. hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly. But not the content. authors assert. The similarity between different products hence familiarity of the audience makes the lack of activity even deep. for suprassing the theatre of illusion. and 2) Restriction. editing. shutter speed. London. leaves no room for imagination or reflection on the part of the audience who is unable to respond within the structure of the film. Adorno. down to its very syntax and vocabulary. cultural industry is not a neutral product.''13 If we accept what is being said. same individuals and homogeneous cutural products are aquired by. for the purposes of mechanical reproduction surpasses the rigor and general currency of any 'real style' (…) the entertainment industry determines its own language. Change of perception. but rather something oriented to produce certain effects. deliberatelly choosen. it is obviously not the same image that is perceived by a naked eye. because the more technological presence. or forgotten'' 12. with certain light exposition. art work or cultural products seem natural. Style is participant in homogenization.W. 13 Op. Maybe new technologies such as internet and smartphones has changed the form of this diagnostic. presuppose that the spectator barely needs to pay attention to what he is seen. after leaving the movie theatre. The simplicity and similiarity mentioned before. it seems to be natural. by the use of anatema'' 16 It is the building of the sameness.society is just interesting as a consumer's mass. the less seems to be present. the effects of the new techniques are imperceptible but vast: since photography. This is. ''Every detail is so firmly stamped with sameness that nothing can appear which is not marked at birth. in the period from Romanticism to Expressionism. But the image is framed and edited. ''The sound film. Adorno and 11 Op. But because of framing. camera does not change what reproduces. 353-354. The stereotyped [but only stereotyped] appropriation of everything. One could say of himself that he is outside of this logics. M. even the incohate. The last case we found regarding change of perception in Enlightenment as Mass Deception is again related with passivity. Secondly. Cultural industries build passive subjects ''As soon as the film begins. cit.15 And this equation is what will be in the street. as if it were what is seen with one's own eyes. the easier it is today for the illusion to prevail that the outside world is the straightforward continuation of that presented on the screen. 353 14 Íbid. etc. Horkheimer. but to forget and rest. treated formerly in Benjamin is present as well in Adorno and Horkeimer's work. p. one could try to find exceptions. Political consequences of technical reproduction The issue of change of perception. and who will be rewarded.''The development of the culture industry has lead to the predominance of the effect (…) when the detail won its freedom. 352 12 Íbid. What it is itself is not as imporant as the effects it produces. cit. The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as mass deception The Open University Press. it is quite clear how it will end. Real life is becoming indistinguishabled from the movies''14. 1) Assimilating cutural products to reality.

The point is that the agent whom authorizes culture to be what it is is the same agent who dictates the features of culture. What is expressed in an art work trascends reality. and. which no longer has to test itself against any refractory materials is also the negation of style'' 17 The last point brings us to talk about quality. Here a few examples: ''The ruler no longer says: You must think as I do or die. 383 . 357 20 Op. he does not realize this fact. cit. it does so through style. spectator must not think as well as each work must be equal in style to any work details. which ables to be part of a certain universal. the same society which builds cultural style (a negation of it) by being only consumers. The text evolves towards a consideration between culture and ideology more general. but he became alienated. your life. your property. What is expressed is meant to reach anyone at any time. the style followed products anihilates quality. even its matter. but from this day on you are a stranger among us. p. p. We saw that it is not close to reality and ment to be far away from it. Whether we talk about art work or cultural work. cit. despite of free market. Art trascends reality. cit. if it is right to call it Cultural Industry then the choice is maid by businessmans. who surrenders to homogenity may have a place. p. spreads ideas. 359 21 Op. Art and ideology. 356 18 Íbid. in cultural products everything is controlled.''19 Art is a source of identity. p. 19 Op. An invisible hand may regulate (bring) the convenient identity. and. Cultural products are made with matter which cames from the same apparatus that will consume it. ''In the culture industry every element of the subjet matter has its origin in the same apparatus as that jargon whose stamp it bears''18 Moreover. Not to conform means to be rendered powerless''20 We described both poles. cultural commodities are meant primarily to be consumed. cit. but seing what is concrete of the present time. specially with the use of technology. 21 Culture is ideological. takes cultural products as a source of identity. He says: you are free not to think as I do. 17 Op. Anything is unexpected. everything shall remain yours.Horkheimer's conclusion at this point is quite negative ''The style of culture industry. The imposition erases any distinction between authentic and artifitial style. However it does not have to do with the harmony or unity between form and content ''it is to be found in thouse features in which discrepancy appears: in the necessary failure of the passionate striving for identity. who wants to break with stablished rules may be either abduced or excluded. An artifitial style may bring from outside on the refractory impulses of a form. Hence. ''Today the culture industry has taken over the civilizing inheritance of the entrepreneurial and frontier democracy -whose appreciation of intellectual deviations was never finely attured''.

''. First and second season consist of three chapters each.2 Plot Summary Part 1.1 Introduction to Black Mirror The writer of the serial is Charlie Brooker. They are the ones who are not recognized as able to ride bikes and wearing different clothes are relegated to pick trash. there are also excluded. now wants to participate himself. Black young male is lying on a bed. does not seem the best place to realize one's dreams. in their free time they are closed in their rooms without any contact either communication between them. Last chapter is a bit longer and was streamed 2014- 2015 winter. It is a good sequence for another reason as well. who fels atracted by Jessica Brown invites her to participate in a talent show. of that not everything is calculated and ''perfect'' inside of that artificial world. It was produced by Endemol and streamed in Channel 4 from 2011. with any connection between them. Laziness does not fit in their ideology.. They wear all the same clothes and live in the same environment. Music's lyrics contrasts with enviroment.. It seems . This is a hint first. characters and scout show. Spectator perceives the start. so that he breaks his lonliness. the sunraise of an artifitial world. saws it. Our characters ride a static bike during their work shifts. it is shown that the inhabitants cannot even own a single piece of trash. Isabell laughland. Presentation of the world. Luckily. Part 5. The spectator goes bit mor deep into the world. The first thing that the carachter sees is a screen. but closed. who is found of him. and shows how to solve the problem. Part 4. Analysis of Black Mirror 3. Part 3. Even the work: but workers have ways of alienating themselves and make an inhuman (not-human) work decent using screens and music. After that gives a speech trying to awaken audience or himself. He is fastly adopted. However. During the whole chapter any real conversation is seen despite a few very unusual situations. It is in this part where the most important relations are stablished. In their screens they publically make laugh of this lower class members. Everything is artifitial. Part 2.''where they are going''. She hurries to go to assist him. Daniel Kaluuya goes to the show and gives a poor demonstration. The length is about an hour. there is still place for reality and unpredictability. Closed in a huge place. and Daniel Kaluuya is astonished staring the machine. as the main character denounces in the final speech. Instead of walls there are screens. Toothpaste is carefully used. and that is the loneliness shown by the characters. 3. It consists of three seasons. It says what time it is and reminds the goods in his bank account. Maybe it is not clear what is general identity of normality. It is interesting the way the girl to meet the main character. which is productivity and being occupied. but he attempts so while helping him. The main character is depressed and saves money to come back to the talent show. The visit to the show has an unpredicted result. There is a little problem with the machine where apples are sold. Jessica brown is hired as a porn actreess. 3. There is fat people. between characters represented by Daniel Kaluuya and Isabel Laughland and then between Daniel Kaluuya and Jessica Brown. The same colours even for bed shifts. but it is clear what they are not. Daniel Kaluuya. This unfortunate lady does not achieve the heart of our main character. Theses excluded are repeatedly called lazy by a character who likes to make fun of them. ''I have a dream.

in opposition to nature. We will stop now upon the character who likes to make fun of fat people. and the former artistical. However. a colleague. There is affinity between the ideological aspect of both works. and he finally gets it. if he does so an anoying sound I played together with the message ''Resume viewing'' repeated again and again. The political impact of the lack of organization between some range of the society has an important political significance and effects. but realize the big gulf separating them from it. Horkheimer's book. Adorno and M. and both of them analyse the political effect of cultural objects. the starlet is meant to symbolize the typist in such a way that the splendid evening dress seems meant for the actress as distinct from the real girl. e.important to show this fact. He supports an unbearable enviroment. 367 . the main character from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead and its cinematographic adaptation23. with the selfishness of its progress. It is a great example of alienation. absolutely selfish. From 12' 25'' we see a young lady who achieved to be famous through a talent scout show.000. reminds. The Fountainhead. the one philosophical. even when it is absolutely unfair and hurts directly themselves. they treat their topics in very different ways. The main character becomes a sort of weird hero while he is fighting against 23 King Vidor. This coincidence is the last we want to comment. proud and happines but at the same time something obscure which may have to do with lonliness of the one who suceeded. and the way it is related with technology. published on 1942 is extensible to a futuristic world. who somehow succeeds because leaves the physical work in the bike and gets a better job. What to do in a cage surrounded by screens? 7' 30'' – 7' 45'' He as to pay if he wants to skip surrounding advertisement.g.000 opportunities. p. in this case games. The girls in the audience not only feel that could be on the scree. After work the only way to survive is to consum commodities. A last point about loneliness is how much our main character. 1949 24 Op. What are you going to do with your hand?''. or the well known G. never. But the spectator cannot avoid to mix two feelings. This could be used to see a near explicit parallelism between Adorno and Horkheimer's work and Black Mirror 15. To sum up. Adorno and It is interesting as well to see that none of the attacked. published on 1942 is extensible to a futuristic world. ''You are going to see it all. Mentioned section lengths from 5' 51'' in the edition from our references 22. which is a common feature between other futuristic such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. ?5. Fifteen Milion Merits and Enlightenment as Mass Deception are build in the same world of significate. They support and feed that social structure (indifference is easier than confronting the conflict). The advertisement gives instructions to the audience as well. cit. and it would be convenient to use them together. Of course. Orwell's 1984. It is interesing to see as well how the extension of T. show any reply to this character when in an absolutely unfair way denigrates them. Even sexual content is displayed. shown at the end of the work. It is interesing to see as well how the extension of T. He makes laugh of another biker. ''Those discovered by talent scouts and then bulicized on a vast scale by the studio are ideal types of the new dependent average. to get what he wants. 22 https://www. This includes art. Ideological affinity but . And our character is still alone. Conclusion? Aesthetical rather than theoretical coincidence. when when he starts to have problems to ride.'' 24 This fragment contents exactly the same content than what is said by the recruited talent appeared in 7' 45''. working without any real commitment. Horkheimer's book. and likes the division among people within his own class. He can not even close his eyes. the sequence 6' 40'' – 7' 30''.

com/watch?v=7tMXKQdc5ZM&oref=https%3A%2F%2F Visited Adorno and M. One-Way Street – W.html . Dialektik der Aufklärung English Edition Spanish Edition – T. Benjamin. Work of Art on the Age of Mechanical Reproduction – W. 6. McLuhan. Refferences FALTEN LES EDICIONS – T. A Short History of Photography – W.16 HBO. Author as a Producer Chapter visionate https://www. Benjamin. CHANNEL 4 WEBISTE http://www.5. Horkheimer. Gutenberg Galaxy – http://www. Minima Moralia – M. Benjamin. Benjamin.