The “American Idol” show has been aired for the past ten years and has gained audiences from various countries. Analyses the “Idol” phenomenon using the political economy approach in popular culture. You would need to explain the political economy approach and your understanding of the theories in addition to applying it to the case study. The American Idol show – a form of popular culture – drew more than 30 million audiences an episode, and although over the years, overall viewers declined, the how appeared to be in little danger of losing its popularity (Wyatt, 2009).
Marxist- inspired theorist Adorn argued that popular culture, as products of the culture industry, served to maintain the stability of capitalism (1941). As a commodities cultural product, ‘Idol’ became a ‘cash cow’ for its conglomeration of owners which comprised of Fox Network, 19 Entertainment, Permanent Media and Sony BMW. In 2008, profit figures for Fox Network obtained from advertising alone stood at IIS$903 million, 19 Entertainment received IIS$96 million from production and global ranches receipts and Permanent Media, one half of that amount (Wyatt, 2009; Richfield, 2011).
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This essay aims to analyze the ‘Idol’ phenomenon using the political economy approach by applying the Marxist understanding of popular culture. Adorn mentioned that mass-produced popular culture was geared towards commercial objectives and hence, could not be concerned with making society better (1941). Maize (2009) argued that owners who conceptualized the show were never guided by the spirit of altruism, rather the formula for success followed the remark of capitalism: the benefit of the few at the expense of many.
The realm of reality television was primarily concerned with a dualistic and profit-inducing formula of selling the ‘American Dream’ – which in actuality, was a realization for a happy few and the corresponding failure and disappointment of thousands others. Adorn (1941) criticized commodities cultural products as possessing an assemblymen character, and an element of predictability. American Idol, a spin-off of the British Pop