David Cronenberg

By: Tom Nealon
March 15, 2010

DAVID CRONENBERG (born 1943) has been lauded for his blurring of boundaries between technology and the individual, but this praise has consistently missed the point, for his films have singularly denied the existence of any such boundaries. The lines between media and the consumer, organic and inorganic, the life of the mind and the life of the body, are false divisions — and it is this simultaneity of vision that makes his work so strangely resonant. Videodrome (1983) and Existenz (1999) are often seen as cautionary tales of a media-saturated future, but it’s not the future that the viewer is trying to wrap their viscera around as James Woods repeatedly whips the television while a bound woman on the screen screams, or when his abdomen splits open to accept VHS tapes, or when confronted with the revolting eXistenZ Metaflesh Game Pod ™ — it’s the now. Even the simple but effective envisioning of J.G. Ballard’s Crash (1996) resists easy reduction. The hyper-sexualized car crashes mutate from S&M parable into cyborg centaurs blazing towards perpetual climax. Works like Dead Ringers (1988), A History of Violence (2005) and Eastern Promises (2007) joust with the only dichotomy that does exist — the self and the self — while opening veins to vigorous, but more understated horrors.


READ MORE about those born on the cusp between two generations. David Cronenberg was born between the Anti-Anti-Utopians and the Blank Generation.

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What do you think?

  1. You could definitely market Dead Ringers inspired sallet tongs – I think you’re on to something.

  2. Just got to this, Tom. V. nice reading, especially with the folding in of the recent Viggo films (which I like but some hardcore Crones don’t) to the larger thesis.

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