Week 5-John Burns-Passing

I was intrigued by the relation between fascism and homosexuality in “Fascism in the Contemporary Film”. Although the article did not suggest that all repressed homosexuality is necessarily fascist, it did provide an interesting theory on why fascism provided a good outlet for men trying to “pass”. Mellen says that some men’s, “…feared homosexuality results in a self-hatred derived from scorn or unwillingness to accept such feelings; the defenses mobilized against it lead the personality to behave brutally” (3). Internalized homophobia is externalized as aggression. The uniformity and brutality of fascism provides both an outlet for this aggression and a chance to “pass”. Mellen elaborates on this by describing, “When Clerici (Jean-Louis Trintignant) has his decisive interview with the fascists, it takes place in marble halls which dwarf him. The image reflects his own smallness and his fear: it is correlative to the panic in individuals who join the fascist mesh to escape from the sense of their inadequacies by identifying with an all-powerful force” (4). Clerici “passes” by joining an “all-powerful force”. His homosexuality is hidden by fascism. It also provides an outlet for his self-hatred. The idea of “passing” is made easier by the conformity of fascism. Normality is very clearly defined. This reminded me of the discussion we had around Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising. The characters in that movie appropriated Nazi symbols, because the conformity of fascism provided a sense of belonging. It is clear that, although ultimately a destructive impulse, fascism was a refuge for hidden homosexual desires and self-hatred.

Works Cited

Mellen, Joan. “Fascism in the Contemporary Film.” Film Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 4, 1971, pp. 2-19.

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