The sequel to The Pervert's Guide to Cinema sees the reunion of brilliant philosopher Slavoj Zizek with filmmaker Sophie Fiennes, now using their inventive interpretation of moving pictures to examine ideology - the collective fantasies that shape our beliefs and practices.Written by
We need to change our dreams first - that are influenced by ideology - in order to change reality
The pervert's guide to ideology is a thought provoking documentary, but at the same time enjoyable and full of wit.
Ideology is so ingrained in society that it has affected our dreams. If we want to change our reality we need to change our dreams first. That seems to be the main theme of the film. Applying psychoanalytic theory to film interpretation, Slavoj Zizek attempts to uncover the hidden meaning of many Hollywood films.
The first film commented by Zizek is 'They Live' which is about a man who finds a special pair of sunglasses that allows him to see the real, scary and subliminal message behind posters and adverts in magazines, but also the real monstrous face of some of those living around him. This sets the tone for the film. For the next two hours Zizek attempts to uncover the hidden, subliminal and controlling messages of a number of films produced over the last 50 years. His argument is that Hollywood dictates our fantasies, dreams and desires through ideology. Taking this further, Zizek comments that the ultimate engineered fantasy is not 'to take what we want but to want to be desired'.
Desire, is not just a desire for something, but also a 'desire for desire itself'. This is the main way that capitalism works. There is an urge to consume: 'people nowadays are made to feel guilty because they don't enjoy themselves enough', he claims.
For Zizek, there is no 'big other', no guaranteed, inherent meaning. We are alone and we have to live with that. All ideology is constructed for manipulation and control. The Titanic for instance, demonstrates that 'it is OK for the high classes when they are in low vitality to mix temporarily and sexually exploit the lower classes'. Vampires and the undead are also a demonstration of the class struggle, with the blood sucking vampires representing the high classes.
Similarly, the shark in Jaws represents all fears of American people; Americans may fear natural disasters, aliens, immigrants or other, and the shark unifies all those fears. This ideology was adopted by the Nazis who unified the enemy in the face of the Jews, according to Zizek.
Are Zizek's psychoanalytic explanations to films 'real'? This is up to you to decide; however, they sound plausible and are worthwhile for consideration. Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, Zizek will change the way you watch films and Hollywood will never be the same again.
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