Smythe (1981) On the Audience Commodity and its Work


Same argument as Blindspot article: “readers and audience members of advertising-supported media mass media are a commodity produced and sold to advertisers because they perform a valuable service for the advertisers” (Smythe 1981, 8).

While we generally consider work to involve physical labor, Smythe explains that within information capitalism:

“much of the work that audience power does for advertisers takes place in the heads of audience members” (Smythe 1981, 23).

“Preparation of children for their role in audiences in those institutions is both explicit in classroom experience which ‘educates’ children as to how media and business function…and implicit in the submissiveness to authority which the schools impart” (Smythe 1981, pg 29-30)

“By what magicians term misdirection, attention is so focused on the exotic performances and lives of media stars and the showbiz glamor of program production and network and station operations that the real situation is mystified out of existence, as far as popular consciousness is concerned” (Smythe 1981, pg 36).

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