Zizek’s view on The Sound of Music

20.25, Tuesday 12 Oct 2021

This is a tough but intriguing one: The Sound of Music is ostensibly a movie about homely Austrians resisting the invading fascists.

But Slavoj Zizek explains that it is also a pro-fascist movie.

Zizek’s argument: the heroes of the movie are these anti-intellectual Austrians who are living a traditional life, i.e. rejecting change. Therefore they have a fascistic quality. Whereas the type Nazis shown not soldiers but urbane cosmopolitans, precisely the elite class that (populist) fascists want to eliminate.

So while the surface narrative is about beating the Nazis, the underlying message has us rooting for a fascistic mindset.

It’s… a stretch. If true then maybe that’s why the movie continues to feel so fresh: because it runs counter to our expectations every time.

But I enjoy being challenged to think about things like this, especially a film that I’ve seen so many times.

The meta here, I suppose, is that we all have a fascistic tendency and that’s why the traditional Austrian life appeals: the desire to resist change, and to exert control on others and the world. Sometimes that’s unhealthy (I mean, clearly when it comes to Nazis, but also authoritarianism in general, and also when it is generally unwarranted and connected with fury when the world - understandably - doesn’t immediately accord to one’s whim). But sometimes it is fine: gardening, parenting, management, design, all forms of control that are generally a-o.k… though I imagine we can all recall examples where even these have become over-controlling. And so the line must be policed.

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