a return to Tradition

West R-A Poindexter


All art forms born of the age of mechanical reproduction begin with the ability to be art-as-politics, removing centralized authority and opening critique to the masses. I argue that two phenomena affect this ability; the creation of the star cult and the co-option of art’s narrative/message by capitalism. These two events lead to art’s transition to politics-as-art. In an effort to illustrate this, I will begin by explaining Walter Benjamin's thoughts on aura, what is meant by politics-as-art and art-as-politics, and the influence of capitalism on film and in the creation of the cult of personality as elaborated in Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Defining capitalism as a mindset or ordering force that seeks to use anything it can as a means of increasing profit, I will trace the effect of capitalism and its associative aura on the reassertion of central authority in television and Hip Hop. Within this trace, we witness these mediums initially functioning to disseminate art to the masses, striping art of its central authority and redistributing it amongst the masses. However, as in the case of film, the influence of capitalism establishes not only a cult following of their personalities [celebrities], but a cult following of the mediums themselves as well, recentralizing authority. This structural parallelism between Hip Hop, television, and film functions as the basis from which I will make my argument that the influence of capitalism—an element within Tradition which is implicitly challenged by challenges to Tradition—has led to the reordering of art to serve in the perpetuation of Tradition. In closing, I will argue that this co-option of media by capitalism was inevitable.


Tradition; Aura; Capitalism

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.