Sunday, April 8, 2012

Roland Barthes – Myth Today – criticism

Roland Barthes - Myth Today - Criticism

Roland Barthes' collection of compositions titled "Mythologies" and his attached programmatic essay "Myth Today" are considered to be groundbreaking texts in structural analysis and cultural analysis in general, but there are not free from faults or criticism.

Barthes works to unravel the workings of the myth and to de-naturalize what myth makes natural and transparent. Barthes sees myth analysis as a political activity whose objective it to locate the historical ideology at the base of cultural representations. One of the criticisms pointed at Barthes in this regard is that he denies the masses the capacity for independent thinking and creative or deliberative consumption of cultural products. Barthes' perception resembles the too crude idea of the culture industry suggested by the Frankfurt School or the role of the intellectual as perceived by Gramsci which do not leave any room for critical thinking among the none-academic commons.  Barthes assumes that cultural, that is ideological, texts have only one way of being read and that it is the role of the Marxist critique to unveil the hidden ideology inscribed in them which eludes the masses. For example, Stuart Hall had rather different notions regarding the people's ability to converse and criticize cultural texts (see for example: "Notes on Deconstruction the Popular" and "Encoding, Decoding").
 On the other hand, another critique pointed at Barthes' "Myth Today" and his theory is that analyzing the myth does not necessarily mean that it potency and effect are diminished. Demystifying myth by mean of their analysis does not necessarily detract from its effectiveness. On the contrary, agents such as politicians and admen can even make good use of Barthes' theory of myth in order to construct their own myth for their own agenda.   

Roland Barthes - Myth Today - Summary, Analysis and review - part 1 - part 2 - part 3 

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