The idea our responses, human interactions, or even our personality are to a large degree reflection of some calculated cultural advertisement, is a very interesting idea. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (1944/2017) state: “The way in which the young girl accepts and performs the obligatory date, the tone of voice used on the telephone…the choice of words in conversation…conforms to the model presented by the culture industry.” (p. 176). The seeming argument presented in “The Culture Industry as Deception” is that we behave as is advertised and therefore expected – and not as we feel or think ourselves. That our outward social interactions are not dictated by mores and norms we genuinely feel, but rather we are simply portraying a culturally appropriated and obligatory response; a result of capitalist advertising of the mass commodity that is culture. We have all fallen prey to the seductive coercion produced by what society has deemed appropriate.
For example, reflect on our interactions with the stranger who checks you out at any given store – whereby the consumer is asked, “how are you doing today?” and the response is generally, “I am fine, how are you?”. This is the expected politeness of interaction but rarely has anything to do with genuine concern or a truthful response. It is the superficial interaction of socially prescribed mores and norms. I am not always fine, the cashier could likely care little about the response, and the question is as generally programed as our response; but it is advertised as polite and construed as the deception of the culture industry.