Thursday, July 12, 2018

Late Night Viewing

It just so happened that one of the last nights that my wife was away just happened to be the night that one of those cable outfits decided to run Videodrome. If you are not familiar with David Cronenberg's 1983 science fiction romp through television and the subconscious, then you have my permission to skip reading this blog and go straight out to your local video store and - wait. Sorry about that. Punch a button to have your streaming video service jack you in for the ride of your life. Yes, the fact that it stars Deborah Harry of Blondie and James Woods of the born-again right wing is enough to keep you away form it, but that would be a shame, since unlike many things from 1983, it has aged pretty well.
This probably has a lot to do with the gentleman who rubbed our nose in it way back when. David Cronenberg, perhaps best known for his remake of The Fly, has made a career out of pointing a camera at our worst impulses. And if they happen to squirt gore, so much the better. He has made a couple of very intense gangster films recently, if you like your intensity a with a little less science fiction and a little more Viggo Mortensen. I enjoyed both of them, but I continue to be drawn back to Videodrome, which is creepily ironic, since it is all about a video transmission that plants a tumor in the viewer's brain that causes them to be controlled by, well, watch it if you need to know.
I did. Again and again. Which probably says more about me than it does about the movie itself, but it came to me at a time when video was my life. I ran a video store, and keeping an eye out for the next big thing was my job. I remember drawing the line at a series of videos called Faces of Death. This was a mashed together bunch of clips purported to be actual footage of people dying. In horrible ways. I turned a great many customers away when they came looking for any volume of this snuff. Often my response was to try and send them home with Videodrome. If you want to wreck your mind, why not have a story? A point of view?
So there I was, alone in my dark house staring at a movie about snuff TV that generates hallucinations in the viewer, and I wondered what the attraction was. Then I remembered America's Funniest Home Videos. And YouTube. And Instagram. And all the other places where our basest nature can be easily found on display. And I wondered if it was time for a sequel.

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