By Alexandra Barancova
“The aim of every ideology is to get a cake and eat it”, states Slavoj Žižek in his new film: A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Together with the help of filmmaker Sophie Fiennes, Žižek, a modern day philosopher and critic of capitalism, presents and explains his views on the role of ideology in our society.
The Impakt Festival takes place annually in the Netherlands and explores popular media culture. This year’s focus of the festival, which took place between the 30th October and 3rd November in Utrecht, was capitalism. Žižek’s movie, the sequel to A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, could be seen in the Hoogt’T as a part of its program.
The film puts capitalism and ideology as a whole into perspective. Escaping control by a set of rules imposed as ideology seems impossible. Knowingly or not, it is something we inevitably submit to. Žižek analyses the control that we are subjected to through relatively comprehensive, relatable and entertaining means. To illustrate his arguments, some pretty unanticipated parallels are made. Russian intervention in Prague during the Prague Spring is compared to the sinking of the Titanic. Spielberg’s Jaws and Nazi propaganda films are both said to be indifferent products of ideology. Humanitarian aid is regarded as a product of capitalism rather than goodwill of people and the price of a Starbuck’s coffee is labeled as comforting for the consumer. Money is the god of a capitalist society.
Žižek’s main message is that capitalism, just like any other ideology, tells us to Obey, Reproduce and Conform. He takes on a psychoanalytic approach to pin down the impact of ideology. He does this against a background of movie scenes ranging from West Side Story to The Dark Night through the Soviet propaganda film Capturing the Reichstag or The Sound of Music.
Although the viewer might not (nor necessarily want to) agree with Žižek’s own viewpoint, the movie is nevertheless an interesting point of reference. It will make you think and question, and if not, then at least laugh.