Monday, July 27, 2009

Enjoy Your Zelig! Part One

Like most of us, I prefer Woody Allen’s early movies but not for the fact that, as he also assumes (Stardust Memories), they are funnier than his later works, but because they reflect the authentic core of our subjectivity, i.e. we are helpless victims and anonymous puppets of the spontaneous ideology and we are nobody in the social game unless we cannot strive hard to attach ourselves to a Truth. Just as in the case of Chaplin (with the exception of The Great Dictator, where he acquires a proper subjectivity through fidelity to the French revolution), in the end it is usually the Truth of Love what provides subjective consciousness to that humble and neurotic New Yorker.

I was pondering over his “Zelig” in the last couple of days, probably the only movie that I’ve so strongly identified with its main character. However, every time I attempted to write on it, I found myself rambling through various texts from the obvious “Being and Event” to the unimaginable (in the sense of its loose connection with the subject) “What is to be Done.” Finally, I’ve arrived to the conclusion that “Zelig” is not simply a movie about a human chameleon who eventually constructs a consistent personal identity through unconditional love and positive transference of a well intentioned psychoanalyst. But, Leonard Zelig himself is the symptom of the world where we love or hate the other only in the condition that he or she complements the image of our own and fits in our fantasy scene. Thus, it is actually the psychoanalyst (Farrow) who is redeemed from her fantasy of attaining recognition and fame by curing a helpless patient who has a unique disorder. She escapes from her narcissistic illusions and realizes her own nakedness in the symbolic order not by the recognition of many but by the recognition and love of one peculiar man.

Here lies the essential perversion of aggressive Kantian ontology which is clearly discernible in Sasha Baron Cohen’s latest movie Brüno. It is not a movie about a homosexual man who exposures the prejudices ossified in the symbolic order with hostile and obscene jokes, rather, it is about the anxiety of society in front of the evil neighbor, a sociopath who metaphysically assumes subjectivity out of thin air, who duplicates the objective violence regulating the symbolic order with his or her pseudo-antagonist subjectivity (whether he is an intrusive homosexual or a vulgar immigrant) which has already been conditioned by the spontaneous ideology. Therefore, for the very reason that his character supplements our own image, fits in our fantasy, Mr. Cohen leaves no room that enables us to escape from the fantasy scene where we are horrified against the evil neighbor "who exploits our work without compensation, to use us sexually without our consent, to appropriate our goods, to humiliate us, to inflict suffering on us, to torture and kill us." Far from exposing our homophobic prejudices, Sasha Baron Cohen’s character Brüno is a proper pervert not because of his sexual position, but because he offers his homosexuality for the enjoyment of the dominant ideologies, and as a result, he actually supplements our narrow-mindedness and thwarts any possible attempt to overcome narcissism from the beginning.

Lenin’s critique of the Economism that cherishes spontaneity of the working class movement was: “...that all worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of “the conscious element”, of the role of Social-Democracy, means, quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers.”

1 comment:

Dejan Nikolic said...