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industry for every
nation, for every age group, for male and female, for every subjective reality
there is a culture industry to manipulate the masses into buying the
constructed idea of happiness. The concept of happiness is constantly and
persistently being manipulated, be it Hollywood or Bollywood, and it is
imperative to be suspicious of the notions which are being constructed in such
cultural articulations. Although there are the non-materialistic themes such as
love and human bonds in both the cinemas, it is to be noted that in popular
culture, culture industry has subsumed human relationships within it as well.

All these constructed
notions of happiness, neatly gift wrapped, in a goal-oriented society are being
sold to the unthinking mass of human beings. In such a scenario, one might
wonder whether happiness even exists in its natural and organic form or has it
merely become a copy with no original, as put by renowned theorist Jean
Baudrillard. He refers to significations and symbolism of culture and media that
construct perceived reality, the acquired understanding by which our lives and
shared existence are rendered legible. The trade of signs means that the
referent is slowly diminishing. Similarly, one may suspect if happiness is
reduced to signs and symbols constructed by the culture industry (eg, shopping,
travelling, partying) with no real referent to look back upon. Just like
simulacra have come to precede the real, the simulated copy of happiness has
superseded the original. One may even dare to say that happiness has become
hyperreality in the popular culture, where the portrait of happiness does not
represent any happiness at all. Baudrillard takes the example of war, that it
comes to when the society is generally convinced it is coming, is not such the
case of happiness as well? The feeling of happiness comes to an individual when
one feels convinced it is coming. The culture industry, here, generates
manufactured consent through cultural articulations which convince the
individual of the oncoming of the said happiness.

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Analysing this
situation medically, one may question, is not the secretion of endorphins like
dopamine and serotonin not in the domain of happiness? The paper does not
entirely deny the presence of happiness through constructed cultural
articulations. It is agreed upon in the paper that these certainly lead to
brief periodic bursts of pleasure and joy but that is not lasting. The
situation resembles the case of False Pregnancy or Phantom Pregnancy where the
individual experiences the occurrence of the symptoms of the same even when the
organism is not pregnant. Similarly, the human being experiences pleasure and
joy even when he or she is not happy in actuality.

The attainment of
happiness is an elusive goal and not always achievable, especially in a society
which has commodified happiness and has built several industries upon this
concept for every class, creed, nationality, religion etc. Though always taken
to be a non-materialistic thing and a state of mind, happiness in present times
has been reduced to materialism, as is evident from the examples taken from
popular cultural articulations. A thriving business has been set up of
providing hyper reductive pre-packaged consumables overtly sold as a means to
embolden the happiness of the user. Without descending into hyperbole, the
greatest chagrin of this all is this peculiar itch that is ever present, that
in which a scratch just can’t quite placate – this feeling of a necessitated
march forward in the pursuit of happiness. It would be comforting to think that
this spoon fed life purpose, grandiose in its ailment of the itch of
inevitability, soothes many of life’s ills, or is the cure systemic of a
manufactured world infused with unsustainable volumes of melancholy? The mass
production of sadness is remedied via the mass consumption of happiness. Even
after much discussion the concept of happiness still continues to evade the
best of us. To neatly gift wrap it in a box would be to make the mistake of
thinking inside the structures and thus defeating the whole point of argument,
that is, happiness is not one universal concept applicable to everyone in a
similar fashion.  It is subjective and
everyone forms their own understanding of this term. However while doing so, it
is also vital for the masses to distinguish between the structured goals
provided to them to serve the purpose of the culture industry and the real
unadulterated happiness that is truly their own.

In Greek mythology,
Greek God Zeus had condemned Sisyphus to the punishment of eternally rolling a
rock towards the top of the hill and never to arrive there. Whenever he would
manage to reach the top of the mountain the rock would roll down and he would
have to start his labours all over again. In a similar fashion the culture
industry has assigned tasks to reproduce and reinvent itself by giving the
unsuspecting masses the illusion of happiness, gift wrapped nicely, making the
pursuit of happiness an eternal never-ending punishment. The absurdity of
Sisyphus’s condition is evident since one must ‘imagine’ Sisyphus happy, as put
by Albert Camus in his The Myth of Sisyphus. So is it safe to assume that the
masses are happy? Or one must imagine oneself happy? The story of Sisyphus
doesn’t comment as to how aware Sisyphus was of the paradox. Perhaps he
understood that he was engaged in a repetitive activity in which he could never
succeed, and which was therefore meaningless. Like him, the masses make their
way in life with different degrees of awareness of the paradox at the end. 

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