by Laura Hutson
Slavoj Žižek's latest cinematic exploration of the unexamined perverted underbelly of mainstream movies opens this weekend at The Belcourt. From The Belcourt's website:
With infectious zeal and a voracious appetite for popular culture, cultural theorist superstar Slavoj Žižek literally goes inside some truly epochal movies, all the better to explore and expose how they reinforce prevailing ideologies. What hidden Catholic teachings lurk at the heart of THE SOUND OF MUSIC? What are the fascist political dimensions of JAWS? TAXI DRIVER, ZABRISKIE POINT, THE SEARCHERS, THE DARK KNIGHT, John Carpenter’s THEY LIVE (“one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood Left”), TITANTIC, Kinder eggs, verité news footage, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and propaganda epics from Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia all inform Žižek’s stimulating, provocative and often hilarious psychoanalytic-cinematic rant.
Look for a review of The Pervert's Guide to Ideology in this Thursday's Scene. In the meantime, you can revisit the Critic's Pick I wrote back in 2011 about a screening of Zizek's The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema after the jump.
The prolific Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek says that cinema is the ultimate pervert art: “It doesn’t give you what you desire — it tells you how to desire.” The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema works kind of like an intellectual Beavis and Butthead — clips of movies are shown, and Zizek dissects them and points out all the ways that they’re really, really dirty. More overtly sexual films like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet are obvious targets, but Zizek also examines the perverse implications of Chaplin’s City Lights and Hitchcock’s The Birds, a film whose title characters, Zizek says, represent “raw incestuous energy.”
The three-part Pervert’s Guide is shot at original locations and replica sets — Dorothy’s apartment for the Blue Velvet commentary, in the backseat of a moving car for Lost Highway. But Zizek’s interpretations are hardly reproductions. Take his relationship to tulips, which he says is inherently Lynchian: Flowers are disgusting, like little vaginas inviting all manner of insects inside. “I think flowers should be forbidden to children,” he says. Is the film using Zizek to explain cinema, or is cinema just the vehicle for an examination of Zizek? Luckily, we can use it for both.