This paper examines similarities and differences between the genealogical approach to social critique and the Marxist critique of ideology. Given the key methodological aspects of Michel Foucault’s genealogy—the fusion of power and discourse and the Nietzschean notion of the aesthetization of life—the paper argues that Hollywood kitsch maybe interpreted as a new dispositif
. A key task of the genealogy of kitsch is to analyze the effects of fake Hollywood narratives: how they form and normalize us, what kind of subjectivities they produce, and what type of social relations they create. La La Land
, a 2016 American musical, is discussed as a way of illustration. Theorists of the Frankfurt School also advanced their critiques of the popular culture and its forms of kitsch; yet they followed Marx and his conception of ideology. The paper concludes that the differences between genealogy and the critique of ideology are philosophical. Foucault rejected the Marxist conception of history and the notion of ideology as false consciousness. Kitsch, for a genealogist, is formative rather than repressive; it makes people pursue banal dreams. For a Marxist critic, popular culture as a form of ideology dulls our critical capacities and, therefore, leaves the status quo of alienation intact.
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