How does the mass production aspect of film help to produce a democratizing effect in the consumption of art?
Narrative is not specific to one medium: “the instant accessibility of popular stories, especially the movies, depends on a signifier’s connotation remaining consistent as it migrates from form to form” (Ray 123; *Film and Literature*). While this is the “truth,” this is hidden from the audience? consumer?, because “it did not satisfy the bourgeoisie’s taste for the representational. The movies could do so only by adopting the bourgeoisie’s preferred arts, the nineteenth-century realistic novel and drama…” (Ray 125; *Film and Literature*). What the bourgeoisie wanted had proliferated the discourse about the relationship between film and literature. (Even my beliefs surrounding this discourse has been colored by what the ruling class wanted). It is a way to preserve the status of high art, while separating it from and at the same time defining low-art.
Mass production detaches a work from it’s tradition and reproduces it in many different forms, making it accessible to people from variant socioeconomic backgrounds. But in doing this it also keep the work alive as it is reproduced by a different medium and then a different medium and yet again, a different medium. Benjamin say of mass production, “the most powerful agent is film. The social significance of film, even — and especially — in its most positive form, is inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic side: the liquidation of the value of tradition in the cultural heritage” (1055; *Work of Art…Technological Reproducibility*). The bourgeoisie fixation on literature in general, ritualized this form, turning it into a sort of religion. Mass production — of which film is one example — destroys that tradition, allowing it’s reproducibility into different forms and access by different groups.
Benjamin says, “though commentators had earlier expended much fruitless ingenuity on the question of whether photography was art — without asking the more fundamental question of whether the invention of photography had not transformed the entire character of art — film theorists quickly adopted the same ill-considered standpoint” (1059; *Work of Art…Technological Reproducibility*). In much the same way Derrida says that the cited graft can engender “an infinity of new contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable” (Ray 127; *Film and Literature*).
Mass production (technological reproducibility) destroys the traditional, ritualistic, religious, element of (original) art. It is a democratizing process, making art accessible to a diverse group of people, and it transforms art rather than limit it.