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The pathos of commodities

I think Lenin underestimates the genuine pathos of the Toy Story films in his review, which reinforces (and is reinforced by) his pedagogical theory of ideology, which tends to emphasize the power of cultural products to impart ideology, thereby underemphasizing why audiences accept and inhabit this ideology. To describe the emotional charge of the films as merely manipulative misses the way in which they allegorize quite real aspects of contemporary life in ways which are both insightful and genuinely affecting (which doesn’t mean they aren’t ideological). Lenin damns the films for “reminding you that your alienated, commodified relationships are perfectly normal, human, desirable and moreover actually protected as human rights in the advanced capitalist states,” but under capitalism human beings really are commodities, and to explore the emotional terrain of that condition is not mystificatory or necessarily reactionary. Read more↴