Demotic possession

Franks, B. (2005) Demotic possession. In: Murray, J., Stevenson, L., Harper, S. and Franks, B. (eds.) Constructing "The Wicker Man": Film and Cultural Studies perspectives. University of Glasgow, Crichton Publications, pp. 63-78. ISBN 0852618182




As Allan Brown reports, Robin Hardy regarded The Wicker Man (1973) as an anti-fascist film. As such it fits into the classical liberal political schema, based on Enlightenment thinking that freedom and the democratic distribution of power is a product of reason. The obverse is that irrationality and superstition lead to authoritarian forms of government. In this sense Hardy’s film coheres with then contemporary orthodox fears that the counter-culture, with its rejection of traditional sexual moral codes and religious practices, were either opening up the way for dictatorial governance or were implicitly totalitarian. As such the film adopts an analysis that, on the surface, corresponds with Max Weber’s approach to understanding the relationship between political power and authority to rule. Despite Hardy’s intentions, more recent Mayday celebrants, namely anti-capitalist activists, have adopted the text to promote revolutionary, anti-hierarchical politics (an appropriiation of the text by, and for, the demos or 'demotic possession'). This paper explores these subversive interpretations and uses of the film, and examines the celebration of the libidinal lifestyles, and the lampooning of established totems of power. The paper also considers how anarchists approach, what are for them, problematic features of the text such as the hierarchical status of Lord Summerisle. The playing with the filmic text by anarchists draws attention to the ways in which the film ultimately undermines liberal approaches to legitimate authority, and the just exercise of power.

Item Type:Book Sections
Keywords:Anarchism, Fascism, Wicker Man, anti-Fascism, Max Weber, demotic possession, legitimacy, Political Philosophy, Film Theory, Political Theory, Herbert Marcuse, parody, Paganism
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Franks, Dr Benjamin
Authors: Franks, B.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Publisher:University of Glasgow, Crichton Publications
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2005 University of Glasgow, Crichton Publications
First Published:Glasgow
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher

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