The Aesthetes of Fascism

Length: 1194 words

This critical review looks at two pieces of work by Charles Lewis, John Neville, and Phillip Wander. The first article, which is titled “Images of Rosie: A content Analysis of women workers in American Magazine Advertising, 1940-1946” was written and researched by both Lewis and Neville. Phillip Wander titles the comparing article “The Aesthetics of Fascism”. After reading both articles I have been able to summarize and review them both to see whether they have a contrastive or a comparative point of view. From my research I have concluded that the authors and their articles are comparative.

The reasons for this are: both articles use a form of white propaganda to prove their thesis. They both use the ethos’s rhetoric throughout their articles to prove their points along with report talk to layout the information. Cardstacking and source credibility are used to help confirm each authors theme and argument. After summarizing each article, we can then look at how effective each technique was and how they were similar with one another to show how ultimately the power of image was coherent throughout the articles.

Firstly, The article “Images of Rosie”, by the two PH. D. Grads from the University of Minnesota – Lewis and Neville – the aim of this content analysis was to determine whether or not advertising of women in the World War 2 era made a difference in shaping the image of women during this time. The other purpose for this analysis was to indicate other research on the topic of women and advertising during the war years. The two attempt to put a connection between the advertising industry, the reality of working women and sociocultural constructions of female gender identity before, during, and after the war.

The authors begin to discuss how historians have over looked the advertising era during WW2. During this time the war bridged two very different experiences – the depression and post-war era. Between 1940 and 1943, women workers grew dramatically. Unemployment went from 13% in 1937 to 1. 3% in 1943. Five million women worked in the American labour force in 1920. In 1940 the number jumped to eleven million and in 1944 more than nineteen million women were working in the labour force.

The immediate entry of women going into the work force also had the same exit in 1946. However, different surveys would give you the other side of things. In 1944 a government survey showed that 80% of women had a desire to keep working in the labour force. Advertising also switched strategies during the war. From 1940 to 1946 trades journals focused on topics like women workers and subjects that would interest women. Immediately after the war these topics were rarely discussed. The authors of the article review the specific topics of each era during the war.

Topics were different before the war, heading in to the war, during the war, and after. Advertisers started to cater more and more towards what women would want to read and it started to stick that way which changed advertising after the war. Women had different roles after the war and advertisers had to change their strategies once again to appeal to this target audience. This study focuses on two theoretical concepts. First, from a feminist social view, theory that the main traditional notion of gender is not based on basic elements of biological structure.

Secondly, it concerns itself with how advertising images feed into the constructive process of gender meanings. In conclusion to this article, the authors says that advertising rarely is an accurate reflection to reality. Although, it does contain elements of social reality and it itself is a social reality. The study establishes the changes in depictions of women before during and after wartime. Advertising played a significant part to help smooth out the transitions from pre-war to war then to post-war. The authors both agree that this topic can be built upon in many different ways.

They have just started to look at this topic through one subject. One could explore the gender displays of children or the look at depictions of men’s work roles could be useful information. Therefore, more research could be done among various mass media outlets. As for the second article analyzed, Phillip Wander, a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies in San Jose State University explores the questions of how art “handles” the implication that slaughter is attractive, needed, or even glorious by using four films as his basis.

In the Article “The Aesthetic of Fascism” Wander breaks down the films, The Deerhunter, Patton, M*A*S*H, and Apocalypse now to prove that fascism as an art is used to disband us from our moral views. Wander begins to explain how fascism in the 1920’s and 30’s never achieved its status as either philosophical or political. He explains that in the future fascism will not be what is was but it will redevelop the law and order through powerful leaders to destroy what is a threat to society.

It must be understood as a potential response to crisis, instead of a discredited doctrine. It will reassert itself under a less objectionable name – Art. Fascist ideology includes the highest point of glory for a leader and their party to which the leader belongs. Historically, fascist’s movements must able if only as a concession to political reality and the existence of rival parties to justify violent acts. Historically they have become a justification that death is a sacrifice and murder becomes a heroic act.

Fascism coming out from the Great War has refined and industrialized slaughter. Art just put a twist on slaughter and violence and how it is seen. Making it more attractive in order to keep our moral views from rejecting it. Deerhunter Wander starts off by explaining how the film tried to transform evil into beauty. He uses scenes from the movie to explain his thesis. In the game of roulette scene, violence is used to show a fun and exciting game of chance where the game can end in death.

The next scene shows a hunter – the main character – having trouble trying to kill a stag. Wander explains how both these scenes fail to offset the excitement and power with the context of its own moral vision. The hunter goes through a transformation in the film form a destructive man to a life-affirming individual that evokes an undecided association to fascist ideology. Through his journey however, the film displays images of emotional appeal. The film contrasted the excitement of war to the respect for life.

In this film Patton, the aesthetic appeal reaches the outer edges of sanity but when Patton is looking over the battleground he says to himself “ I love it, God Help me, I love it so”. Patton lives his life through battle and when it comes to an end for him he has nothing left. Wander explains the issue that through conventional warfare we can no longer distinguish violence from an earthquake or fire. The films make it seem that war is glorious and Patton helps to prove that by his multiple successes. The bigger picture in this movie is through the aesthetic images that military virtue is a thing of the past.

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