The culture industry has led to the enlightenment to the masses through radio, films, and magazines when it was first introduced. This concept is portrayed through pop culture references in films revealing how messaging is created for audiences and what it inevitably will mean for the culture. Hairspray tells that story beneath the loud dresses, expanded wigs, and even colorful choreography. I remember being at opening day thrilled to see Queen Latifah on screen with an in drag John Travolta. The film portrayed a light perspective on being young and supporting equality on the fictional Corny Collins Show, but it quickly mentions the accurate opposition that was enacted by broadcast and other media conglomerates at its time.
A young Tracey Turnblad is eager to begin her start as a series regular on the daytime show but is immediately told her presence is unwanted for her size and opinions. A producer makes herself known in explaining how cast members are chosen, how they must dress and act while on camera, and who is not allowed to be broadcasted on the program. At the time of segregation, men and women who did not fit the “ideal” look of America were not welcomed by executives. The goal was to provide a consistent broadcast the controlled what people would retain with a skillful selection of its participants and employees. Viewers rushed home to learn new dance moves while gatekeepers established ways of keeping the community fixated on the political message.
Providing a shared space with white and black castmates to dance in front of the entire Baltimore region would give the network’s support to the change arising in the political sphere. The characters struggle to uphold the segregated laws established in the town while others remain satisfied in how it has created their lifestyle. In the end, the opposing sides have no choice but to welcome integration because it was inevitable with the constant variable of progress.
The broadcast station continued to develop a culture industry aligned with the dominant state of the country. Audiences may see messages as accurate or reflective of how society should be, but the film also shows that even in controlled messaging in sociocultural tradition will always affect the state of news.
1. How have you seen media outlets remain focused on sharing specific messaging to its
2. How has broadcast lost is a form of “art” and become more of a platform for political
messaging?3. What ways can more creative value be given to portraying the behind the scenes
perspective of the culture industry?