In this article I investigate the concept of cultural criticism in the tradition of Frankfurt School’s critical theory of society. In particular, I focus on Adorno’s understanding of the method and aims of cultural criticism in constant relation to a critical analysis of the contradictions of contemporary society, and I pay a special attention to the products of the so-called culture industry. Adorno’s critical analysis of contemporary culture is based on the distinction between true and untrue cultural products, which is also connected to his distinction between serious and popular music. I finally offer a critical re-examination of Adorno’s pessimistic account of all popular culture following some recent developments in cultural theory including Mark Fisher’s book Capitalist Realism.
Keywords: Theodor W. Adorno, Mark Fisher, Aesthetics, Critical theory, Cultural studies