by Laura Hutson
The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema
Where: Vanderbilt's Sarratt Cinema, 2301 Vanderbilt Place
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7
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.