“Today the culture industry has taken over…everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same.”

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–Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer (1944).

What held true for the United States of America some 70 odd years ago seems to be unerringly prophetic about cultural developments in Pakistan today. What the authors foresaw unfolding at the time was the gradual shift in art, literature and music towards profit-motivated production, a conscious attempt to capture multiple demographics through the same cultural artefact – combining elements of high culture as well as popular culture. The roaring success of initiatives such as Coke Studio or Nescafe Basement bear testament to a similar dynamic at work in our society today. The type of music they produce, equally influenced by musicians as diverse as Noori and Ataullah Khan Esakhelvi, seems to know no bounds in terms of the demographics it appeals to, nor in terms of the singular geography and culture it represents. From children of privilege to the victims of the status quo, all seem to be held in thrall. As a corporate project, such an enterprise would represent unqualified success. But for those who cherish the particular artistic and cultural milieus that produced these works of art, the very aspects that make them distinctly unique, these developments should be nothing but worrisome.