Videodrome

(1983)

Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Matt Singer: Videodrome

Transcript for Matt Singer: Videodrome

 

CHRISTY LEMIRE:
Alright, earlier in the show we reviewed the new movie “X Men: First Class. “ But our correspondent Matt Singer takes a look at what he thinks is the most prophetic science fiction movie of the last 30 years, David Cronenberg’s “Videodrome.”
 
MATT SINGER:
 When director David Cronenberg made Videodrome in 1983, there was no internet, cell phones or streaming movie services.  There was just television and videotape, and for our younger viewers, I should explain this is a videotape.  Ask your parents, they’ll remember them.  Despite the fact that VHS, Betamax, and basically all the technology in Videodrome is now totally outdated, the film itself remains as pressioned as ever.
 
Videodrome now available in a stunning Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection follows Max Wren, played by James Woods, the head of programming of a smutty cable access station who’s looking to fill out his line-up of soft-core pornography with something a little bit edgier.  That’s when one of his employees finds a pirated satellite signal for an underground television show called Videodrome.  
 
Twenty years later, the massive popularity of so-called torture porn films like Saw and Hostel, movies that make Videodrome look like Dora the Explorer, would prove Max absolutely right.  And since the Videodrome signal actually causes brain tumors in anyone who watches it, you might say that Cronenberg invented the very first and most literal viral video ever conceived.  
 
One of Videodrome’s characters is a so-called media prophet named Brian O’Blivion, who teaches Max about what Videodrome is and how it was created.  And true to his title, O’Blivion has some very prophetic things to say.  Here is a sample of his philosophy.  
 
O’Blivion and Cronenberg predicted everything from internet avatars to reality televison, to video chatting, to cybersex to the pervasive paranoia that our cell phones might be giving us brain damage.
 
The look of Videodrome is forward thinking, as well, predicting a world where TV screens are everywhere.  And in 2011, you can watch television on your phone or in an airplane, even in an elevator.
 
Cronenbreg understood that TV is so seductive that many people would rather live on television than in the real world.  Or as Brian O’Blivion put it,  public life on television is more real than private life in the flesh.  Give me a break man, you’re still on television right now!  Good point.  
 
IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
Well, thank you so much, Matt.  You know, I am a huge fan of David Cronenberg’s work. I feel like a really underrated side of it is just his way with actors; with lead actors.  And James Woods is really good in Videodrome.