I'm glad Cronenberg has a real knack for making me feel really really stupid. Whenever I finish one of his films, I'm left with this empty, incompetent feeling of sadness and longing. Why am I not smart enough to understand these films? But then I wonder, is anyone really smart enough to fully understand the levels of depth and insanity that live inside Cronenberg's head? More importantly, when will we receive a film by Cronenberg about the depth and insanity that lives inside Cronenberg's head? And least importantly, what the fuck just happened? I say least importantly because I do realize that not knowing what everything means is normal and in most circumstances, encouraged...so there's that.
OK so here's the deal. James Woods is this kind of seedy TV programmer who works for a station that plays porn. One day he stumbles upon a pirated program called Videodrome-- a sort of snuff video that tends to excite people. Before long the real motives behind Videodrome are discovered and the parallels and connections between reality and TV grow stronger...a little too strong. OK I'm going to stop now because I just realized trying to give a plot synopsis of Videodrome is kind of pointless, especially for me whose head hurts when trying to recall minor details. In a similar way to my experiences with the plot synopsis of The Brood--reading the plot of Videodrome will not help you to understand the film at all, it only makes things more confusing. Plus, Debbie (sorry DEBORAH) Harry is in this so reading her name in the plot synopsis is even worse because ummm this isn't music it's a movie?
SPOILER ALERT! Remember that time that geisha doll became a dildo?
That was amazing.
But seriously folks, Videodrome is pretty unbelievable for more than a few reasons. For one- this movie was capable of foreseeing the future. Now more than ever, the prevalence of the theme of our lives being controlled by TV and reality crossing paths with TV could not be more palpable. However you choose to understand the film, you cannot deny that one of the overall messages is how our lives our often dictated by what we see on TV. And also TV gives us brain tumors. But mostly how it dictates our lives. We are made to feel emotional about people we don't know--(I don't know about you heartless people, but Kate Minus Jon plus 8 makes me cry). We scheduled our days around what TV show is playing that night and we hate actor's because their TV characters are pricks.
Not only that, the whole concept of the idea of pornography being something desensitizing and damaging to the mind, is not a far cry from how people often react to horror movies--of which Videodrome is often categorized by.
There are too many things going on!
Let's just get to the good stuff. So after James Woods sees Videodrome he starts hallucinating. It's not long before he looks down and his stomach has split open, revealing a slit or what I like to call a vagina.
I'm not making this up either--the body cavity represents a vagina and the gun apparatus- a penis. Freud, who is mentioned earlier in the film and Cronenberg are always talking about sex and how sexual organs are represented in EVERYTHING and always have to do with something that we don't want to think about. Like the Oedipus Complex---ick.
Perhaps a thousand times more frightening than the stomach vagina and the penis gun--is the flesh colored penis gun (but really just a penis) that comes out of the TV. Do not even try to tell me that this is not a penis because I will just laugh at you.
With all these penises and vagina's, you'd think I would be able to decipher at least some inkling of what this movie means, because I know about penises and vagina's. But I still have no idea.
What I do know--is that there is an overall sense of looking in. James Woods is watching a television program that takes over his mind and body, while we are watching the same television program---but also we are watching a movie about James Woods watching a television program---so are we then in a sense, watching ourselves or is someone watching us? This whole idea of voyeurism is once again prevalent when speaking of both pornography and horror movies and even movies in general. Watch Peeping Tom if you don't believe me. Movie directors are in many ways the very definition of a voyeur and we support it and are in turn, entertained. Does this make us the very scum that the Videodrome program sets out to destroy? Do we all have malignant brain tumors stewing inside our heads? Will the questions never end? I hope not. That's what makes a Cronenberg movie truly engrossing after all. We never claim to have all the answers, but watching it and attempting to understand it, is more than satisfying. Who needs explanation when you have your own ideas and imagination?
But for real what the hell? I feel like this guy.
Or maybe like this guy
Except I know better than to stick my arm in a vagina that has vagina dentata.
I suppose I will have to watch it again. And then maybe again. 5 times at least, and then maybe, just maybe I can start making some actual sense.