Shrek at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City: photo by Joiseyshowaa, 2007
Mass media are not simply the sum total of the actions they portray or of the messages that radiate from those actions. Mass media also consist of various layers of meanings superimposed on one another, all of which contribute to the effect. True, due to their calculative nature, these rationalized products seem to be more clear-cut in their meaning than authentic works of art, which can never be boiled down to some unmistakeable 'message'. But the heritage of polymorphic meaning has been taken over by culture industry inasmuch as what it conveys becomes itself organized in order to enthral the spectators on various psychological levels simultaneously. As a matter of fact, the hidden message may be more important than the overt, since this hidden message will escape the controls of consciousness, will not be 'looked through', will not be warded off by sales resistance but is likely to sink into the spectator's mind.
Spongebob Squarepants, Energizer Bunny and Pikachu with Poké Ball shown tied down before 2006 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City: photo by Sullnyflhi, 2007
Miley Cyrus on board the Bolt float at Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City: photo by Ben W, 2008
Theodor Adorno: How to Look at Television (excerpt), from The Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television 8 (3), 1954, in The Culture Industry, ed. J.M. Bernstein, 1991