The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology Screen 9 articles

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology


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  • Mr. Zizek’s daisy-chained improvisations amount to an argument on behalf of complexity and unseen depths, and, like much academic writing, it risks monotony and becoming as reductive as it can be seductive. Mr. Zizek also has a frustrating tendency to dead-end into jargon or sidestep at pivotal moments. He speaks the truth much of the time, yet all the whipping back of the curtain ends up covering up other realities about movies and life.

  • What Žižek seems to practice is more an ornate form of radical pessimism, offering thorough, compelling social diagnoses with not much in the way of meaningful prescription. Still, even when it seems like he’s serving up warmed-over rubbish, it’s good fun dining out of Žižek’s trashcan.

  • For me, this strength of Fiennes’ film does not issue from its gimmickry – Žižek dressed up as a nun in The Sound of Music (Robert Wise, 1965) or as Travis Bickle in his fatigues, analysing the movie scenes he is in – but in the stimulating ideas he steadily generates throughout the film.

  • All The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is really doing is offering a specific model for a fairly standard, politically-inclined form of film criticism... It’s when [Žižek] expounds on the world outside the film and thinks of alternate scenarios and conclusions that he’s at his most entertaining and original.

  • [Žižek] mostly hits the theoretical nail squarely on the head, and anyone who calls a Carpenter film a “forgotten masterpiece of the Hollywood Left” or convincingly links Lindsay Anderson’s if… to atrocities at Abu Ghraib deserves a couple hours of any self-respecting, desiring subject’s time.

  • All the [Žižek] classics are here: rants on cultural consumerism vis-à-vis Starbucks and class politics in TITANIC, as well as meditations on violence and Christian atheism. What detractors don't seem to realize is that Zizek is always in on the joke, and if psychoanalytic film theory is poised for a comeback its because it can now laugh at itself.

  • Žižek is undeniably engaging, if overexposed. (One wishes we could have in-depth film profiles of major thinkers like Judith Butler and Cornel West, but they probably have better things to do.) If there is a significant flaw in Fiennes' film, it's that Ideology is almost structured as if it were a series of blackout sketches or freestanding webisodes, so no broader argument ever builds.

  • Even if we're unable to automatically understand what he means when he says ideology isn't just meaning, but "an empty container, open to all possible meanings," his filmic examples (from The Triumph of the Will to They Live) make his points so graspable, turning the impenetrability of his speech into a kind of poetry.

  • It’s exhilarating, even exhausting stuff, though Fiennes lightens the weight of Zizek’s dense discourse with a welcome scattering of sight gags. He’s a man to be taken seriously, but not averse to donning a nun’s habit—and for that we love him.

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