Will the new German man please stand? Hegemonic masculinity in Nazi propaganda and German cinema
Metadata[+] Show full item record
Between 1933 and 1945, under the supervision of Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda of the Nazi Party, and later the German government, preached a message of absolute devotion to the state based around principles derived from hegemonic ideals of masculinity and hyper-conservative social policies. It was during the Second World War that propaganda, utilizing both fictional and nonfictional visual content, emphasized a message of total submission of the body to the state and the will of the nation to sacrifice itself for its own institutions. This was communicated through the condemnation of infidelity, the rendering of rebellious and independent women to the role of the mother and homemaker, and the display of boys willing to fulfill the call to arms and become cannon fodder. None of the more graphic implications or ramifications of this behavior would be displayed in order to preserve what Erving Goffman (1956) refers to as the "front" (pp. 13). This concept of the front, the performance by an individual meant to connote personal or even hegemonic ideals, helps to frame propaganda as more persuasive, giving the viewer just enough realism to believe in the message, without presenting the harsh reality of the situation. The illusion of the performance would dissolve in the decades following Germany's defeat in the Second World War. In the films produced in postwar Germany both before and after the Oberhausen Manifesto of 1962, examples of Nazi propaganda are present in the messages. These messages conceptualize a masculine ideal from that period. In films like 'The Bridge' (1959), 'Young Torless' (1966), and 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' (1980), formulations of a warrior masculinity (Digby, 2014), complicit masculinity (Connell and Messerschmidt, 2005), and hyper-masculinity (Jewkes et al., 2015) respectively are presented and established in the front that the films execute. These types of hegemonic masculinity become the subject of critique as the decorum of the film shifts from the front to the "backstage" (Goffman, 1956, pp. 67), where the rhetoric of the performer is less restrained and positive and more relaxed and/or profane. This shift also leads to a shift from the idealistic to the realistic, as the negative consequences of the actions of those individuals who embody these forms of hegemonic masculinity are made apparent. The following thesis applies historical framing analysis to seven sample texts, four that were produced by Germany during the Second World War, and three produced in postwar Germany. This analysis looks to illustrate a "national community" frame within the selected works, based on hegemonic ideals of masculinity and German social policy passed under the Nazi party. Recurring messages within Nazi propaganda produced before the Second World War in both fictional and nonfictional visual media content serve as the basis for this frame's existence. The sampled propaganda texts are 'March to the Fuhrer' (1940), 'Victory in the West' (1941), 'The Great Love' (1942), and 'The Great Sacrifice' (1944). The sampled post-war texts are the previously mentioned 'The Bridge' (1959), 'Young Torless' (1966), and 'Berlin Alexanderplatz' (1980). This analysis also looks to demonstrate the intersection of fictional and nonfictional media content. Specifically, it showcases how fictional content can reinforce certain messages and how they are communicated within a given sociopolitical context but can also how challenge and subvert the messages of the past to write a new chapter of history.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License. Copyright held by author.