El Tony Manero Nacional
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Raúl, the protagonist of Pablo Larraín’s 2008 film Tony Manero, is a serial killer obsessed with “Saturday Night Fever.” Living in 1970s Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, Raúl symbolizes the abuse of Chilean culture committed by dual hegemonic forces: the political oppression of the Pinochet regime, and the ideological force of the North American culture industry. His efforts to participate in Chilean cultural production by staging a dance performance based on Saturday Night Fever becomes a ridiculous parody of Bhabhain mimicry: almost, but not quite. In this paper, I read against the postcolonial narrative of the mimicking subject in Tony Manero. Using fan theory from Michel de Certeau and Henry Jenkins, I seek voices of resistance or reappropriation within the film. I argue that because Raúl’s final dance performance is unplugged from the culture industry, it becomes a site for the performance of deviant identities and for the construction of a local community. I find that the film, however, denies the implications of this resistance, reasserting the omnipotence of the government and of mass media in constructing cultural identity.