Marxist critique of Crayola Factory Tour

DT sez, "A very swell Marxist deconstruction of the The Crayola Factory: A Hands-on Discovery Center. Slightly self-depreciating, somewhat wry, very erudite and extremely accurate. Complex but very, very good."

And so was born the Crayola Factory [sic] Tour. A single production line of original machinery was reassembled in a glassed-in, toplit soundstage. It is tended by a lone, young worker/performer, who demonstrates the crayonmaking process a couple of times each hour. Armed with a headset mic and a remote, he controls overhead lights and cameras and guides the audience's attention to monitors which show close-ups of each step. In other words, the entire Crayola Factory Experience is geared to the re-enactment and re-viewing of the original Mister Rogers/Sesame Street films.

But what, besides the jazzy soundtrack, is missing from this picture? In its attempt to recreate the authentic production line, which actually makes the little souvenir 4-packs of crayons handed out to the audience, Crayola has eliminated the labor. Instead of the five older, unionized workers seen in the Sesame Street film, the Factory performance is run by one young retail/service industry employee earning minimum wage.

Which sucks for the folks stuck in a depressed central Pennsylvania town with nothing but retail or restaurant jobs, sure, but it doesn't let us, the shopper/viewer off the hook, either. As the very act of seeking out an authentic reliving of a memory of a TV show demonstrates. By emphasizing the production of works of culture, which we all share, Karl Mannheim expanded Marx's theory of alienation from the proletariat to everyone. These works of culture which we internalize, and which which we identify our selves, are beyond our control. Adorno and Horkheimer, meanwhile, saw capitalism exploiting this alienation, by transforming self-expression into the consumption of "cultural commodities."

The Triumph Of The Crayolatariat

(Thanks, DT!)