Zizek seems to be arguing that were we, the everyman, to fully comprehend the 'reality' of the exchange farce, "the effective act of exchange would no longer be possible" (p 20). That we cannot grasp its scope and depth is essential to its veil, he claims -- certainly echoing the likes of Jameson and Baudrilliard on the tactics of postmodern forces in ensuring our complacency. I have a few issues to take up with the politics of this claim.
Adorno and Horkeimer
I suppose one of the integral themes of postmodernism is the denial of progress, but I keep hoping for Baudrillard to give us some guidelines on where to go from here. So what if we admit to ourselves that we are living in a simulacrum? We are living in a conspiracy world where the government and media feeds us images and events in the hopes that we will not question their morals or our reality. The notion of historical progress has collapsed and there is no reason for us to believe it will suddenly reignite. Now what?
Let's speak, for a moment, about this issue of happiness. It was alluded to in a few earlier posts with regard to the desire for 'vegging out' at the movies, for contently complying with practices and ideologies of the current sociopolitical order, for breaking with this so-called 'system' whilst maintaining ones' sanity. In response, let me back up for a minute:
While reading Adorno and Horkeimer, I was offended by their harsh critique of the public. They clearly have no faith in the mental capacities of film audiences. Films are open to numerous interpretations and this is why people love them. Artists use film as an outlet to express thier political and social sentiments. The audience can then do what they want with it. No one is forcing any ideals down their throats. I feel as though living in Hollywood jaded Adorno and Horkeimer. They were exposed to such an extreme side of the media and they grew to resent it.
As I read your comment about how you felt Adorno and Horkeimer's essay was "dated," I felt compelled to fill in a bit of background info on these two authors (if you're a Media Studies major, you probably already know this, but if you're not, you'd have no reason to know this.) You're right though, about how they seem to be incredibly cynical about mass-prodeuced cultural forms and the enjoyment of them, like going to a movie simply for the sake of being entertained.