In the parade scene of Fellini’s Amarcord,the director seems to surgically probe at the roots of Italian fascism. The evidence seems to indicate that even strong-armed fascism cannot control the id. In fact, its swollen and pussy ideology and exaggerated sense of self-importance seems to release recessed hormonal drives in which hero-worship is equated with sexual fantasy. The ideology seems to have all the ingredients of the sexual objectfication, the “male gaze” and the individual as fetish object and Fascisim as nothing more than a big show.
When the sought after village beauty catches sight of ludicrously huge floral Mussolini speaking head is is a metaphor for a fantasy wedding ceremony and she almost faints with sexual excitement. “In the following sequence, main character Titta’s (Bruno Zanin) family takes their “insane” Uncle Teo (Ciccio Ingrassia) from the asylum for a day excursion. Teo escapes, climbs a tree, and screams from the treetop, “I want a woman!” Without outlets for sexual drives, the townspeople go mad or displace their stifled desires onto political symbols manipulated by the regime.” Read More: http://www.sensesofcinema.com/2002/great-directors/fellini/
Filippo Marinetti asserted that Futurist art would act as an explosive device, a lightning rod in the upholding of a new set of values based on speed, destruction and the uses of violence as characterizing a new era and rebirth of Italian national grandeur.It was almost a sequel to Savonarola and the Bonfire of the vanities. It was to be messianic and harness latent religious reactionary tendencies to the new technological age. It was also nihilistic. In “The Founding Manisfesto of Futurism”, Marinetti exalted the glory of war as a cleansing process, “the world’s only hygiene”, a proclamation of a crisis that would make apparent the radical foundation of a new aesthetic world order with profound social and political consequences.
Futurism was an avant-gardist assault on the autonomous status of art in modern bourgeois society, that coincidentally emerged at the same time variations on the Aryan myth were being fabricated in northern Europe. For Marinetti it was a movement of both a destruction of art historical, and nascent democratic tradition; an emphasis on formal innovation that would characterize and throw ambiguity onto the modernist movement that still resonate today.
Walter Benjamin: The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of [a technological] apparatus which is pressed into production of ritual values . . . All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war . . . Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system.Read More: http://www.princeton.edu/~publicma/Weinbaum_article.pdf
According to Benjamin, Fascism aestheticizes politics, using film and photography as required. Through “violation of an [technological] apparatus,” Fascism mobilizes the masses to maintain their own proletarianization and the prevailing property system. Fascist art (the example Benjamin gives is that of Italian Futurist, Franco Marinetti) supplies “gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology” to such an extreme degree that society “can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.”Alternatively, liberatory cultural forms (those spawned by a critique of the prevailing property system) respond to changes in perception “by politicizing art.” In other words, Benjamin tightly binds human liberation to particular forms of artistic production. In his view, radical politics require art that reflects and refracts transformations in the mode of production and perception, and channels these changes into critical consciousness, which, for Benjamin, was tantamount to class consciousness. Read More: http://www.princeton.edu/~publicma/Weinbaum_article.pdf
Alan Woods: Here we have the distilled essence of imperialism – the notion that wars are a necessary means whereby humanity overcomes stagnation and purifies itself through fire. This adequately conveys the delirium of the Italian imperialist petty bourgeoisie wheeted the horrors of the First World War as one would welcome the invitation to a party.
Later on this dream of the Italian imperialist petty bourgeoisie turned into a nightmare. But in the years that preceded the great imperialist slaughter of 1914-18, it acted as the mainspring of the main trend of Italian art. From the beginning, futurist art was impregnated with a spirit of suppressed violence and aggression. Here in paint we see the concentrated expression of the pent-up rage and frustration of the Italian imperialist petty bourgeoisie. The slashing lines that criss-cross these abstract paintings are like the tracer bullets that light the sky over a battle at night-time. The jagged edges speak of lacerations. The whole thing is filled with an explosive element that anticipates war, upheaval and conflict.Read More: http://www.marxist.com/ArtAndLiterature-old/italian_futurism_and_fascism.html a
The alteration of human sense perception enabled by technologies of mechanical reproduction did not, however, produce a singular political effect. Rather, much to Benjamin’s dismay, the impact of changes in perception heralded by film and photography lay precariously in the balance. And thus, writing on the eve of World War II, Benjamin’s guiding political question had to do with whether the
work of art and new mode of perception that it enabled would be used to foment human oppression or liberation or, in the terms of his
day, fascism or communism….
On the one hand, when made infinitely reproducible and thus available for consumption by the masses, film
and photography possessed the potential to democratize society by making viewers into critics and giving them an experience of critical
and liberatory collectivity. On the other hand, film and photography and the sense perception they enabled were ripe for exploitation by
the fascist ideology machine eager to create a compliant mass, blind to its own exploitation.
Steven Heller:Nothing was more integral to Italian Fascist life than its youth. In 1923, Giovanni Gentile, the Education Minister and Fascist philosopher, conceived of a new educational system. This system was not intended to train youth to think for themselves, but rather, to turn them into instruments of the regime. In fact “the cult of the cradle,” as the fascist strategy was known, was an aggressive official doctrine determined to inculcate in predominantly male youngsters, the mythology of the omnipotent regime in order to transform so-called “flowers of faith” into soldiers of empire. Relentless propaganda campaigns and the “Fascistization” of schools and youth groups would breed a new cultural order. Read More: http://observatory.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=6957 a