Journal of Romance Studies

Competing masculinities and homosocial desire in El jefe (1958)

Journal of Romance Studies (2004), 4, (2), 67–83.

Abstract

This article argues for the conceptualization of competing masculinity(ies) and explores how a competitive process of inclusion and exclusion effects a certain type of hegemonic masculinity. Dealing with the post-Peronist critical fallout of 1955, the author engages with the notion of Perón as head gangster as proposed by the Argentine film El jefe (1958, Fernando Ayala). The powerful representations of masculinity in the film are not only shown to be embedded in the Peronist discourse of class and sexuality but are also linked to the production of an imagined masculine social/sexual self of the period. Using Freud’s theories on group identification processes, competing masculinities are posited and studied through the analysis of the gang in El jefe. Identification, competition and exclusion are key components in the construction of a desired masculinity. Drawing on Sedgwick’s concept of triangulation, male homosocial desire is examined. Ultimately, the purging of effeminacy in particular is found to be the key to understanding and resolving the paradox of the simultaneous existence of homosociality and homophobia.

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Archetti, Eduardo P. (1997) ‘Multiple masculinities: the worlds of tango and football in Argentina’, in Sex and Sexuality in Latin America, ed. Daniel Balderston and Donna Guy (New York and London: New York University Press), 200–16. Multiple masculinities: the worlds of tango and football in Argentina Sex and Sexuality in Latin America 200 16 Google Scholar

Arlt, Roberto (1958) [1926] El juguete rabioso (Buenos Aires: Losada). El juguete rabioso Google Scholar

Bhabha, Homi K. (1995) ‘Are you a man or a mouse?’, in Constructing Masculinity, ed. Maurice Berger, Brian Wallis and Simon Watson (New York: Routledge), 57–65. Are you a man or a mouse? Constructing Masculinity 57 65 Google Scholar

Burston, Paul (1995) ‘Just a gigolo? narcissism, nellyism and the “New Man” theme’, in A Queer Romance: Lesbians, Gay Men and Popular Culture, ed. Paul Burston and Colin Richardson (London and New York: Routledge), 111–22. Just a gigolo? narcissism, nellyism and the “New Man” theme A Queer Romance: Lesbians, Gay Men and Popular Culture 111 22 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith (2000) ‘Restaging the universal: hegemony and the limits of formalism’, in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left, ed. Judith Butler, Ernesto Laclau and Slavoj Žižek (New York and London: Routledge), 11–43. Restaging the universal: hegemony and the limits of formalism Contingency, Hegemony, Universality: Contemporary Dialogues on the Left 11 43 Google Scholar

Ciria, Alberto (1995) Más allá de la pantalla: cine argentino, historia y política (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Flor). Más allá de la pantalla: cine argentino, historia y política Google Scholar

Di Núbila, Domingo (1959) Historia del cine argentino II (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Cruz de Malta). Historia del cine argentino II Google Scholar

Echeverría, Esteban (1951) ‘El matadero’ [1871], in Obras Completas de Esteban Echeverría, ed. Juan María Guitiérrez (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Antonio Zamora), 310–24. El matadero Obras Completas de Esteban Echeverría 310 24 Google Scholar

Freud, Sigmund (1991) ‘Group psychology and the analysis of the ego (1921)’, in Civilization, Society and Religion, The Penguin Freud Library, vol. 12, ed. Albert Dickson (London: Penguin Books), 91–178. Group psychology and the analysis of the ego (1921) Civilization, Society and Religion 91 178 Google Scholar

Fuchs, Cynthia (1996) [1993] ‘The buddy politics’, in Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, ed. Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark (London and New York: Routledge), 194–210. The buddy politics Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema 194 210 Google Scholar

G. A. R. (1958) ‘Con intención y con talento’, unspecified newspaper clip, Archives of Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken, Buenos Aires. Con intención y con talento Google Scholar

Guy, Donna (1995) [1990] Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press). Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires Google Scholar

H. P. N. (n.d.) ‘Nuevo cine argentino “El jefe”’, unspecified newspaper clip, Archives of Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken, Buenos Aires. Nuevo cine argentino “El jefe” Google Scholar

Hunt, Leon (1993) ‘What are big boys made of? Spartacus, El Cid and the male epic’, in You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men, ed. Pat Kirkham and Janet Thumim (London: Lawrence & Wishart), 65–83. What are big boys made of? Spartacus, El Cid and the male epic You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men 65 83 Google Scholar

James, Daniel (2001) [1988] Resistance and Integration: Peronism and The Argentine Working Class, 1946–1976 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). Resistance and Integration: Peronism and The Argentine Working Class, 1946–1976 Google Scholar

La Nación (1958) ‘Importante film local es “El jefe”’ (24 October), 10. Google Scholar

Neale, Steve (1993) [1983] ‘Masculinity as spectacle’, in Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema, ed. Steven Cohan and Ina Rae Hark (London and New York: Routledge), 9–20. Masculinity as spectacle Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in Hollywood Cinema 9 20 Google Scholar

Perón, Juan D. (1971) Conducción politica (Buenos Aires: Editorial Freeland). Conducción politica Google Scholar

Perón, Juan D. (1973) Actualización política y doctrinal para la toma del poder, ed. Grupo Cine Liberación, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino (Buenos Aires: Editorial 25 de Mayo). Actualización política y doctrinal para la toma del poder Google Scholar

Puig, Manuel (1976) El beso de la mujer araña (Barcelona: Seix Barral). El beso de la mujer araña Google Scholar

Rapallo, Armando (1993) Fernando Ayala (Buenos Aires: CEAL). Fernando Ayala Google Scholar

Schmucler, Héctor (1989) ‘La única verdad es el relato’, Babel 9, 28. La única verdad es el relato Babel 9 28 Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky (1985) Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire (New York: Columbia University Press). Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire Google Scholar

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky (1990) Epistemology of the Closet (London: Penguin). Epistemology of the Closet Google Scholar

Sinfield, Alan (1994) The Wild Century (London: Cassell). The Wild Century Google Scholar

Taylor, Diana (1997) Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ (Durham and London: Duke University Press). Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’ Google Scholar

Viñas, David (1963) Las malas costumbres (Buenos Aires: Editorial Jamcana). Las malas costumbres Google Scholar

Viñas, David (1964) [1955] Cayó sobre su rostro (Buenos Aires: J. Alvarez). Cayó sobre su rostro Google Scholar

Viñas, David (1967) [1956] Los años despiadados (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de la Flor). Los años despiadados Google Scholar

Wood, Robin (1986) ‘From buddies to lovers’, in Robin Wood, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (New York: Columbia University Press), 222–44. From buddies to lovers Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 222 44 Google Scholar

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Author details

Montenegro, Patricia