Videodrome: Watch What You Watch

[NOTE: This is more or less an analysis of the film Videodrome, and thus there are some spoilers.]

The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena — the videodrome. – Prof. Brian O’Blivion

This film is impressive for a number of reasons. In 1983 David Cronenberg showcases a world with a sort of “interactive television” and thus we see a world with many attributes similar to today now that the internet is such a regular part of our lives.

Many have usernames, especially “Youtube personalities” and the like, which are certainly “names designed to cause the cathode ray tube to resonate.” The cathode ray was simply the technology behind the screen at the time, now we have flat screens but the function is the same. 

In the film, we are shown some sort of poorhouse, but these destitute ones are not in line for food. They are in line for a chance to watch some television. A chance to participate in the video arena. It is made readily available to everyone no matter their financial state, apparently their society thinks it’s that important – as important as food. In my state of California, government programs will provide anyone with “food stamps” a free cell phone, complete with data. A touchscreen for all. Facebook is preinstalled. They are practically begging: Please don’t starve yourself of a taste, nor from participating fully in the infosphere, we’ll take the bill. Be engaged in our social media, its on us.

Those are the two main literal “predictions” within the film. The final point of most relevance lies in the quote above. In that moment this is what is said:

The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.

If this wasn’t sold a science fiction horror film I’d say that’s a very spooky expression. But I’ve always felt like Cronenberg has been a little more honest in his work. That is, it feels the work of an artist more than the average Hollywood movie. Perhaps someone can look into his background and connections later, but I don’t want to get into it here. This film has something interesting to say and it’s worth looking at how it is said.

This quote is a tell. Or at least functions as one. The spooks that run things would love for their word to be the beginning and end of our reality. Whatever suits their purpose and profit. They make up some tragic occurrence and immediately they put it into our brains and therefore it is our truth like it or not. They want us to ignore the reality around us as “less than” their programming.

This isn’t anything new. We know OSS and then the CIA/NRO have been happy to shape our reality with their stories, and well before them. Even Citizen Kane showcased this information game. I think that’s part of why that film has been so highly regarded. At one point Kane wants his lady-friend to be an opera star so badly that he simply puts this fake fact into his newpapers to make it true, ah, but in this case he fails. No amount of good press can make up for her lack of presence and voice. This gives those in ‘the know’ a perspective of struggle. “Oh, it’s so hard to be the reality-shapers.” And they are validated by the screen. While the rest of the audience thinks “see, they can’t lie to me that easily” and then they get all worked up over an election or a shooting. So again, the screen validates them. Citizen Kane manages to play to both sides, certainly an achievement. (Even it’s title humbles the absurdly wealthy Kane, calling him a mere “citizen”, when clearly the super rich are not like the rest of the citizenry.) 

Videodrome is much more literal about the unseen aspects of this process, about how these planted stories take root in our minds and begin to take over. It shows a man’s mind being controlled by the media he consumed, to the point that it even effects his physical body. How we are swayed depends on whose media we consume. There is also a layer of beware-who-you-trust to give you something to watch. Max trusted Harlan but Harlan proved to be against him.

Brian speaks to us only through a recorded video tape, when he points to his head he is directing our attention a head on the television screen:

I believe that the growth in my head, this head, this one right here… I think that it is not really a tumour, not an uncontrolled, undirected little bubbling part of flesh, but that it is, in fact, a new organ, a new part of the brain. I think that massive doses of Videodrome signal will ultimately create a new outgrowth of the human brain, which will produce and control hallucination to the point that it will change human reality. After all, there is nothing real outside our perception of reality, is there? – Brian O’Blivion

The “first victim” of Videodrome tells us that the new growth caused by the signal isn’t “really a tumour”. It is not a really a “new growth of tissue that possesses no physiological function and arises from uncontrolled…cellular proliferation”, no, rather it IS controlled and it IS directed. Meaning that someone is producing and controlling those hallucinations. Meaning they have the power to shape reality.

The new organ is also weaponized. Max’s gun is part of him. And it creates tumors in it’s victim, growths that do not belong. It is later shown that the gun replaces his hand. He cannot put it down. He has become the weapon. The media you consume can utterly and completely take you over and you will serve it’s purpose. You will be the video word made flesh.

~

So what does this mean to us? Well, for readers of Miles Mathis we can plainly see that those who don’t question the mainstream media or it’s controlled opposition are living a directed hallucination, their bodies by means of their minds have been successfully hijacked. As we de-spin and un-wind the information we receive we become better at seeing the physical untouched reality that lies cannot touch. But this enrages those who want all heed the video word. So the battle for our mind will continue, for a time. Individually we work to root it out completely. That’s what happens at the end.

At the end, Max is told: “You’ll use the weapons they’ve given you to destroy them.” He shoots himself in the head with his hand that is now a gun. Is this the only way to remove the Videodrome from yourself? It does picture nicely the fact that the Internet, the greatest expression of the Videodrome, the Video Word that is free for all to consume constantly, is also the only place to go to get information that can help you to unlearn the lies. Which is the reality pictured by shooting yourself in the head with Videodrome’s weapons – you use their technology to find the truth. And then the lies are destroyed by the truth never to return. 

It isn’t a tragic ending when we destroys the Videodrome within himself. The movie ends because he – and we – are finally free of the video word and now our minds can enter our real bodies, and regain the real life that was lost when we gave it to Videodrome. 

~~

In my personal thinking I’ve come to use the word “Videodrome” to mean “anything on TV, online, or printed that serves to undermine the truth”. Especially that which specifically seeks to push human actions and/or present itself as fact. Unfortunately, in this highly functioning authoritarian state basically everything has some of the taint of the insidious Videodrome signal. Sometimes it’s a heavy deep signal, like the ‘news’ or a movie like Antebellum. Sometimes it’s a less dangerous signal, like the older Star Treks or a movie like Videodrome.

Author: davidbehlman

Studied Math and Physics at University of Minnesota Morris. Studied 'hands-on' Film-making in 2007-08. Been an avid reader of many subjects for a while now. I feel very strongly that far too many writings wind-up ignoring their definitions and thereby forsake real content and logic. I hope to add to the sensible discourse.

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