(Pop) Cultural Marxism, Episode 6: Everyone Enjoying Everything All the Time

In episode six of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Isi and Ajay consider the cultural imperative du jour, “Let People Enjoy Things”—and offer an alternative: not letting people enjoy things. What underlies the collective impulse to not criticize? What is the purpose of criticism? And how does the injunction to not criticize misunderstand the relationship between the self and representation? Are critics cheerless? Why are we anxious for our art (are blockbuster movies so fragile)? Why, in this moment, are we seemingly so driven to seek out cultural experiences that console? Isn’t critical engagement in itself a pleasure? As Isi and Ajay explore the anti-critical impulse (with a detour into the present and future of the Oscars), they take up objects ranging from Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All at Once (and therather ardentdiscourse surrounding it) to Florian Sigl’s The Magic FluteKate Wagner’s Baffler essay “Don’t Let People Enjoy Things,” Franz Kafka’s office writings, the video game Like a Dragon: Ishin!, A.O. Scott’s New York Times exit interview, aesthetic debates reaching back to Adorno, Benjamin, and Lukács, and much else besides.

You can download the episode by right-clicking here and selecting “save as.” Or, look us up on Spotify or iTunes.

(Pop) Cultural Marxism is a monthly series of the Podcast for Social Research, produced by Elliot Yokum. If you like what you’ve heard, consider subscribing to Brooklyn Institute’s Patreon page, where you can enjoy access to all past and future episodes of the podcast.

(Pop) Cultural Marxism, Episode 6: Everyone Enjoying Everything All the Time

Notations

Thoughts, questions, suggestions? Find us on Twitter @isilitke and @materialist_jew!
 
Florian Sigl, The Magic Flute (2022) and trailer
 
Like a Dragon: Ishin! (Sega 2014; 2023)
 
Franz Kafka: The Office Writings (Princeton University Press, 2008)
 
The Diaries of Franz Kafka, trans. Ross Benjamin (Schocken, 2023)
 
Return of the Obra Dinn (Lucas Pope, 2018)
 
Legion (FX, 2017-2019)
 
Satoshi Kon, Paprika (2006)
 
Satoshi Kon discussing Darren Aronofsky 
 
Adam Ellis’ “Let people enjoy things” meme
 
Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947)
 
Kate Wagner, “Don’t Let People Enjoy Things” (The Baffler, 2019)
 
Kate Wagner, “We Cannot Countenance Windowless Bedrooms” (The Nation, 2023)
 
A.O. Scott’s exit interview and review of Mad Max: Fury Road (“Rated R. A ruthless critique of everything existing.”)
 
Saints Row: The Third (Volition, 2011)
 
Saints Row: IV (Volition, 2013)
 
Teen Vogue on the Academy and union-busting
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