Fandom and mass-culture in late-Francoist Spain
Manuel Benítez ‘El Cordobés’ and Raphael
in Following Franco
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In the 1960s, Spain had the fastest-growing economy in the world apart from Japan. As aspiration replaced austerity as the national ideal, the dictatorship increasingly used the mass media, as opposed to direct repression, as a means of wielding power. The interpellation of (un)willing subjects in a culture of non-inquisitiveness was evidently one of Francoism’s chief political triumphs, but work remains to be done on critically interrogating the information available to everyday Spaniards, alongside a more nuanced understanding of how this both shaped and reflected their interests. This chapter employs two case-studies – the bullfighter El Cordobés and pop singer Raphael – to explore the gender- and class-infected discourses that emerged around celebrity culture in the last thirteen years of General Franco’s life. The chapter analyses how and why young celebrity figures provided evidence for the oppositional left to understand mass-culture as the opium of the masses, a surreptitious form of depoliticisation. The hypothesis advanced is that a dogmatic desire to denigrate, rather than engage with, celebrity culture nevertheless proved counter-productive for their progressive ideological agenda.

Following Franco

Spanish culture and politics in transition, 1962–92


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