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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
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STROH, RicKus  and  NEL, Adéle. "Will you accept him as he is?": Faan (Faan se trein) and Lambert (Triomf) as filmic déstabilisation of hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2020, vol.60, n.3, pp.797-813. ISSN 2224-7912.

In her influential book, Masculinities, R.W. Connell (2005) formalised the term hegemonic masculinity. She explains that the term refers to the type of masculinity that dominates other forms of masculinity whereby society defines masculinity as social construct. Hegemonic masculinity gave rise to a plethora of research on masculinity. Morrell (2001), Swart (2001) and Du Pisani (2001, 2004) worked within the South African context and focused specifically on Afrikaner masculinity. They clearly show how hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity is deeply rooted in the Apartheid ideology and has significantly been influenced by puritanical values. Contrary to the hegemonic power that occupies a central role in society, the outsider emphasises the interdependent dialectical relationship between the hegemony and those who are excluded. Van Rensburg (2010:120) points out that the outsider, due to his feeblemindedness and exclusion, often comments honestly and directly on contemporary social order and structures. In other words, the author of a literary work (written or visual) uses the outsider character in a distinct way to comment on or criticise the community, albeit the community within which the character finds himself or the larger community and society. Despite obvious differences, the unifying factor of two recent Afrikaans films Faan se trein (2014) and Triomf (2008) is the fact that it includes an outsider who finds himself within a patriarchal, hegemonic Afrikaner order under the apartheid regime. This article examines the way in which the outsider in the film versions of Faan se trein (2014) and Triomf (2008) challenges and destabilises hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity. Firstly, the focus will be on the discourse regarding masculinity, hegemonic masculinity and hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity, as well as the concept of the outsider to determine its relevance in film. An investigation into hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity in the era in which the narrative is set, inevitably exposes connections with the Apartheid era in South Africa. The re-visiting or reactivation of the past is therefore also discussed in order to highlight its possible value for the contemporary South African viewer. The analyses of the two films show that the ideologies of hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity and apartheid are at the centre of the relevant settings. The outsider destabilises these ideologies in different ways. In Faan se trein, Faan destabilises Afrikaner masculinity in two ways. Firstly, he unmasks male sexuality and desire. Through his ignorance of social conventions, Faan explicitly references and gazes at female characters ' breasts and makes offensive and inappropriate remarks. The sergeant, doctor and reverend who can be seen as exemplars of Afrikaner masculinity, regard Faan's actions and statements as insignificant and "normal" for a man. This incidentally demonstrates Afrikaner masculinity's belief that a woman's sexual desire manifests itself as a natural response to a man, and that women serve as objects of male desire. Secondly, Faan exposes the injustices of racial segregation and associated racism that are characteristic of the Apartheid era and Afrikaner masculinity. He does so through his friendship with Stinkhans, who is ultimately Faan's only true friend. Faan regards Stinkhans as his equal and treats him just like all other "important" authority figures. Faan is the embodiment of innocence that exposes the injustices residing in hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity and Apartheid. He also becomes the scapegoat and must unfairly bear the burden of others' sins. Nevertheless, through his innocence and feeble-mindedness he indirectly creates fellowship and relationality in the town. Lambert acts as a destabiliser of hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity in the film Triomf. He is the feeble-minded outsider in an already marginalised space, and the fruit of an incestuous relationship between his mother and her two brothers. It has been shown to be the utmost form of destabilisation. Lambert is thus regarded as a threat to the stability of a national Afrikaner identity. His friendship with Sonny (a black man) and his sexual advances towards a coloured prostitute, further destabilise and detract the racist views of the hegemony. Lambert, as an abject character brought to life by incest and repeating the process by having intercourse with his mother, directly comments on the cramped, inbred ideologies ofthe Afrikaner, ofwhich he is similarly victimised and destabilised. In the closing scene of the film, he kills his "fathers". This scene is read as a salvation and annihilation of Afrikaner ideologies and patriarchy. This is linked to the political context of the film on the eve of the 1994 election, when Apartheid collapsed and South Africa was delivered from a racist and discriminatory order. The fact that Sonny saves Lambert from the flames while Sonny wears a shirt with an image of Mandela is seen as a preview of the coming order where inclusivity and co-operation between different races would henceforth be promoted. Finally, Derek Hook's (2014:201) verdict on the past can be emphasised again as the basis for the present and the future: "More simply put: in the case of attempts to retrieve Apartheid history we are not merely accessing dull echoes of the past; we are involved rather in the task ofre-establishing the foundations of what the past may come to mean in the future". It is unethical to refer to Apartheid as something of the past, as it is a subject that can never be considered closed. Therefore, the rethinking of history (of which these films are good examples) is of value to the contemporary South African viewer. The rethinking of the Apartheid era in South African history creates a historical consciousness in the viewers: they are empowered to make sense ofthe present and future, as well as reconstruct their identity and heritage. In the films Faan se trein and Triomf, the Apartheid era's social injustices and the twisted ideology of Afrikaner masculinity are highlighted. The films, therefore, reveal history to acknowledge what happened in order to eventually continue to build a tolerant and peaceful society.

Keywords : Triomf; Faan se trein; outsider; RW Connell; masculinity; hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity; destabilisation; marginalisation; film; apartheid era.

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