In recent years, documentary formats have entered prominently into the realm of the culture industry, especially since Hollywood and Netflix started to invest in costly productions addressed to the mainstream. Many of these documentaries claim to show reality in its immediacy (“as it really is”), to reveal that which is obscured, or to critically assess societal evils. They use aesthetic strategies that reinforce the appearance of authenticity, while concealing the mediation of what they represent, and the authoritarian stances they presuppose. This turns them into powerful instruments for diffusing authoritarian and populist ideologies. Their political impact on society, their performative power of opinion-shaping, and their subliminal influence on how we perceive and understand reality call urgently for critical assessment. Horkheimer and Adorno’s critique of the culture industry, along with their philosophical, sociological, and aesthetic writings, provide a constructive starting point. This essay aims to mobilize their critical theory of society for the problematization of documentary films in terms of their dialectical relation to society.
|Title of host publication||How to Critique Authoritarian Populism|
|Subtitle of host publication||Methodologies of the Frankfurt School|
|Place of Publication||Leiden|
|Number of pages||18|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
|Name||Studies in Critical Social Sciences|