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Fascist Aesthetics

by H. K. ‡
“Fascism is theater.” ~Jean Genet Susan Sontag’s article Fascinating Fascism on Leni Riefenstahl and, more broadly, fascism in art sparked my interest in creating a list of films (and assorted art works in other media) that have fascist aesthetics. Let me make it clear up front that by including them on this list I am not necessarily labeling these works or their creators “fascist”, but rather pointing out that they adhere to one or more of the trademarks of fascist art as listed by Ms. Sontag. Segments of Fascinating Fascism which outline the key aesthetics of fascist art: “Hence mass athletic demonstrations, a choreographed display of… Read more

“Fascism is theater.”
~Jean Genet

Susan Sontag’s article Fascinating Fascism on Leni Riefenstahl and, more broadly, fascism in art sparked my interest in creating a list of films (and assorted art works in other media) that have fascist aesthetics. Let me make it clear up front that by including them on this list I am not necessarily labeling these works or their creators “fascist”, but rather pointing out that they adhere to one or more of the trademarks of fascist art as listed by Ms. Sontag.

Segments of Fascinating Fascism which outline the key aesthetics of fascist art:

“Hence mass athletic demonstrations, a choreographed display of bodies, are a valued activity in all totalitarian countries; and the art of the gymnast, so popular now in Eastern Europe, also evokes recurrent features of fascist aesthetics; the holding in or confining of force; military precision.”

“More generally, they flow from (and justify) a preoccupation with situations of control, submissive behavior, extravagant effort, and the endurance of pain; they endorse two seemingly opposite states, egomania and servitude. The relations of domination and enslavement take the form of a characteristic pageantry: the massing of groups of people; the turning of people into things; the multiplication or replication of things; and the grouping of people/things around an all-powerful, hypnotic leader-figure or force. The fascist dramaturgy centers on the orgiastic transactions between mighty forces and their puppets, uniformly garbed and shown in ever swelling numbers. Its choreography alternates between ceaseless motion and a congealed, static, ‘virile’ posing. Fascist art glorifies surrender, it exalts mindlessness, it glamorizes death.”

Suggestions, et al. welcome.

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