Scrutinizing the writings by Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, and Theodor W. Adorno and connecting them to specific comedy scenes and tropes, this essay explores the fascination for American slapstick comedies and comedians by the philosophers of the Frankfurt School. Although often critical of mass entertainment, Benjamin, Kracauer, and Adorno admired the way slapstick film elevated motion and speed to an art form that answered to the rhythms and dangers of an industrialized society. For these writers, slapstick's crude and anarchic humor and anthropomorphizing of everyday objects offered a means of resistance against the forces of modernization through ludic encounters.
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© 2017 October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
October Magazine, Ltd. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology