Eileen Meehan, "Holy Commodity Fetishism, Batman!"


Here are some questions to think about as you read Meehan's essay. Please post your discussion questions below.

We can think of Meehan's essay as a "how-to" example of what it would look like to do a political economy analysis (that is, analyzing media in relation to the economic relations in which it is produced, distributed, consumed, etc). What seem to be the steps?

What questions does she seek to answer?

How could this be done with other media objects?

How is Meehan's analysis different from Williamson's?

What can we gain from doing a political economy analysis (what are the benefits for us as scholars)?

How can Meehan's piece inform how we critique/use/consume/make media?

What does Meehan mean by "commodity fetishism"? Her use of the term is implicit. She is referencing a commodity form that veils the economic and social relations that produced it.


At the start of the reading, Meehan mentioned some facts about the Batman series and products, explaining how many goods there were associated with it. Afterwards, she made a new section and started at the beginning. After making it through the whole story and explaining everything that happened (how and why), she came to a conclusion she deemed a contradiction in itself: “to understand our mass media, we must be able to understand them as always and simultaneously text and commodity, intertext and product line.” This idea sprung from the fact that big conglomerates deal with both open and closed markets (as she pointed out in her article). Isn’t there some way we can reconcile the “contradiction” and view it in a way that doesn’t require understanding the same thing two different ways? And if she would have done that would, would it have made some new assumption about the products or the process? Or would we still be left with two statements, equally contradictory?

The Time-Warner conglamerate gives us an idea about vertical integration, which means a parent company owns all subordinate company, ranging from production to distribution, in order to toally control the media and the message they want to deliver to the market. Time-Warner earns profit not only from the box office revenue, but also from all different areas, such as sell characters' rights and sell of differnet commdities. Their penetration is completely profit-driven. And my question is that is there anything or any force that can stop their penetration or what we can do, as a consumer, to fully understand what does those companies want and what we personally want?

Before reading this article there have been times where movies come out and they seem to be everywhere and I thought how did they decide they were going to put Harry Potter on my beverage container and why did they think that would make me want to see it. In this article Meehan painted a more clear picture about the crossrefrencing of media in the promotion in the creation of the movie batman. This made me think of the Hunger Games movie that recently came out. Everyone I knew had heard of the books or read them. I had the some of the songs downloaded from the soundtrack before I even went to see the movie. Taylor Swift is on one of the songs and while she isn't my favorite I know that alot of people like her alot. I even started seeing people in shirts like Team Peeta or Team Gale and some people wore the pin that Katniss wears in the movie. After reading Meehan's article I felt kind of tricked. Did I really like these books or did I get sucked in to loving them becuase of all the different ways that it was marketed to me? Is it a good book or is marketed so well and in different ways that can't tell the difference?

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This page contains a single entry by zimme313 published on September 12, 2012 5:36 PM.

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