The Conformist

In the essay, “Fascism in Contemporary Film,” Joan Mellen examines several films in which she explores the psychology of the fascist. It is within a character’s conflicted pursue of sexuality and social freedom that enables the positioning within a fascist culture, one that encourages a repression of self-identity in exchange for the conformity into the fascist ideology. However, Mellen explains that it is not a character’s identification with fascist ideology that encourages Clerici to join the fascist power; rather, it is the psych that sustains within his repression of homosexuality that forces his need for a normative social position, thus him committing to political  fascism.

It is through films such as The Conformist that identity politics can be further analyzed. By providing an optical model of identity, Robinson examines the notion of passing. Robinson creates the triangle figure which is dependent not only on the one who is actually passing, but also the spectators of the passing. Robinson mentions that recognizing passing is recognizing a performance, and the triangle produces a scenario in which the recognition of the pass by the spectator is demonstrated as the “visibility of the pass as an apparatus of deception,” (726). Passing becomes a social and visual representation that is recognized and deceives the spectator’s gaze. It is a “skill of reading” by the spectators within the triangle that allows the pass to be a pass, marking itself as a cultural and social apparatus that is able to perform and simultaneously manipulate the dupe and the member of the in-group.


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