Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)

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Watching the first half hour of this film, I was convinced that this was going to easily be my favourite Cronenberg. The film doesn’t quite fall apart, and remains consistently interesting, exciting and surprising… but somehow, I almost wish it went in a different direction, but am still more than satisfied with the results. More than a commentary on tv culture, the film is still widely relevant as an exploring with our relationship with all forms of media. In the 80s television and video tapes were the new frontier, in this day and age, it is the Internet. Looking at the film now, it’s commentary on the affect on television seems somehow hyperbolic, and yet, it seems like a perfectly apt reflection on our relationship with Internet technology.

The film’s further exploration on our perception of reality, sex and violence. Max’s violent murder of his co-workers seems like a strange commentary on the belief that violence in popular media will incite people to commit crimes, especially violent ones. It seems with every horrible human action, there is a voice screaming that it’s because of video games or the Saw movies. There is a madness in his actions, but it’s not a simple cause and effect… there is something far nuanced in his break from convention and morality. It’s a change in his perception of the world around him, a revelation that skews and changes everything. As a man who is already detached, and he is especially vulnerable. It explores how naively we approach so much of what surrounds us, how we believe it has no effect on us whatsoever. How moving images can change the way we think and feel, and even the way we see.

Strangely enough, the only contemporary filmmaker who taps into the madness that Cronenberg evokes is Japanese director, Sion Sono. The film fits neatly with Suicide Club and Noriko’s Dinner Table. Are there any other filmmakers today that dare to approach social issues and their impact on the individual psyche with the same absurd enthusiasm as Cronenberg or Sono?

2 responses to “Videodrome (Cronenberg, 1983)

  1. finally catching up on my recommendations, eh? 😉

    But anyway, what I really liked about Videodrome was, believe it or not, how subtle it was…at least, before the whole Death to Videodrome, Long Live the New Flesh business starts up full-steam. Not long after he watches the tumor-inducing video for the first time, there’s a scene where Max is alone in his apartment, and he takes his gun out of its case and just examines it, before someone knocks on his door and he quickly tries to hide it. Why is he taking this gun out? Once the movie’s over, we know it’s because Videodrome is slowly convincing him to murder his employees, but what’s really scary is that the first FEW times I watched this movie, I didn’t even give this scene a second thought. I just completely took it for granted that Max just took out his gun for some reason – by the way he’s doing it, obviously he finds nothing odd about his behavior in this scene, as if he takes out this gun on a daily basis, and for a while, neither did I. Little subtle oddities like that are much more disturbing to me and much more indicative of Cronenberg’s perceived near-subliminal effect that TV and the media has on the viewer than the later tumor gun stuff (which was fun to watch in any case), because I was lulled into a false sense of security and normalcy just as much as Max was.

    Such an awesome movie.

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