Article Title:Enough Fascist iconography is Enough!
Author or Credit:Craig Young
Published on:24th August 2004 - 12:00 pm
Story ID:379
Text:Susan Sontag wrote a classic essay about the rehabilitation of fascist aesthetics in the early eighties. What light does it shed on sinister undertones in Destiny Church's Wellington rally? I've always liked Susan Sontag's work on arts and culture, ever since I read her Notes on Camp essay from the sixties. However, in the seventies, she was concerned about the rehabilitation of Leni Reifenstahl, a Nazi filmmaker and propagandist, and wrote an incisive essay about the subject of fascist aesthetics. So, let's apply that incisive perspective to concerns about the dramatic visual components and gestures of Destiny Church. In Fascinating Fascism, Sontag told us that fascist art was based on containment of life and movement. It's all repressed, held in and angular. Remind you of anything? Yes, leadership salutes, and the Enough is Enough logo. Musclarity and masculinity are also parts of the fascist aesthetic, as in the muscular male Maori form and their display of that prowess within the context of a kapa haka effort. Again, look at all the angular, scrubbed faces in Berlin statuary of that era, and you see rather the same effect. Hyperbolic celebration of masculinity was essential to the fascist project of that time. And today, we have the same disavowal of feminism and lesbian/gay rights, as alternative gender and sexual politics. According to Sontag, fascist aesthetics turned life and movement into artistic effort, as with Reifenstahl's paean to Nuremberg rallies, "Triumph of the Will" and the 1936 Berlin Olympics ("Olympia"). It's supposed to be about masculine beauty, courage and submersion of individual identity and critical intellectual inquiry in mindless community and emulation of an absolute leader. Sound familiar? Finally, Sontag deals with a British booklet about fascist design and dress, and is at her most relevant. Black, neatly cut shirts, simplistic messages and iconography that relies on stark red,white and black highlights has a certain historical pedigree. It will not do, as some social conservative commentators have already done, to trivialise it and dismiss it away. It's not a good look- and that has to be an ironic understatement. Enough, Brian. No more fascist iconography, thank you very much. Frank MacSkasy's parents lived through that nightmare in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Second World War (see's Daily News Guide), and he was right to draw our attention to the nightmares associated with the use of certain gestures, dress and symbolism in that context. I am not saying Brian Tamaki, or Destiny Church are fascists. However, Enough of that particular imagery is quite Enough. Strongly recommended: Susan Sontag: "Fascinating Fascism" in Susan Sontag (ed) Under the Sign of Saturn: New York: Farrar Strauss Giroux: 1980. Craig Young - 24th August 2004    
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