Do you like television? If so, why?
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I mean this as an honest question. I really want to know. What keeps you coming back to the gogglebox, day after day? Do you get enjoyment out of it, or do you simply do it because that's what you do?
I know why David Cronenburg likes television. T.V. is a boxed reality, and that means it's manipulable. If you can manipulate something, you can mess with it. And Cronenburg LOVES to mess with reality.
If you don't know who I'm talking about, ask your local science fiction/ horror film buff about him. You're liable to get a long and colorful diatribe, probably with some strong emotion behind it. I won't aspire to guess what sort of emotion, suffice to say if they appear aroused, you'd do well to move away, and if they say anything concerning the New Flesh, don't stop to pack.
Here's the plot, as far as it goes: Max Renn (played by the inimitable James Woods) is a zealous promoter for his TV station, an underdog channel that uses soft-core pornography and hard-core violence to attract viewers. He's always searching for the next big thing. One day, his employed television-pirater picks up an unlisted signal coming from somewhere in Pennsylvania. It's called Videodrome, and all it shows is torture and rape. Hour after hour of it. Renn becomes interested- perhaps this is his big new thing- and looks into the show, but as he goes on, he begins to see...things. Soon enough, he learns that this is all a part of the Videodrome program...a new world, where television is reality, and reality...well, what is reality anyway?
This movie is disturbing. No, that's not good enough. It lies somewhere on the other side of disturbing, in a place that has no name. Cronenburg unfolds levels of reality and unreality that are normal, that have the things our world has, and yet- it isn't our reality. In the same way Brazil isn't our reality. It's gray, and bleak, and there's just something WRONG with it. Nor is that all. Gore fans could learn a thing or two- there are some ungodly hideous scenes here; in fact, if you're squeamish at all, give this one a miss. At the very least, don't eat anything while you watch it.
Videodrome gets 8 out of 10 stars. A dark, surreal, brooding masterpiece of modern dystopian fiction. Or is it fiction? Long live the New Flesh.
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.