David Cronenberg's films have been called lots of things. Bizarre. Unnerving. Brilliant. Shocking. Grotesque. And I would like to add educational. Yes educational.
Word to the National Health Organization. Put down your signs that say "exercise more" and "eat your veggies" and don't worry about getting all those vending machines out of schools. Shut down the Weight Watchers and the Jenny Craigs and tell Kirstie Alley to shut up. If you truly want to solve the obesity problem today, buy up a shit-load of copies of eXistenZ and Videodrome and show them often.
At first blush, these two movies seem to embrace technology and its advancement. Max Renn (James Woods) and Allegra Gellar (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are striving to bring the next big thing to the masses. And at first they are successful. But as they become more entwined with the technology, it begins to reveal itself for what it really is. The TV is nothing more than a box that creates brain tumors causing hallucinations brought on by brain damage. Video games are nothing more than false realities that feed off your body and cause you to lose grip with society and will probably eventually get you shot dead.
Death to the demoness Allegra Gellar.
Death to Videodrome.
Long live the flesh.
The battles that rage in Videodrome and eXistenZ mirror the battles that rage in current society. Television and video games are bad drugs that at first seem harmless and fun but then eventually send you down a rabbit hole of self-destruction from which you will never escape. Parents deal with this reality every day with their children. And deal with it with themselves as well.
Cronenberg is not so literal as to show the body getting larger as these characters become more involved with the technology. But the bodies do change. These characters make sacrifices of the flesh. Portals are permanently drilled into the back to tap the spine. Vaginal like slits form in the belly. Brain tumors form that create false realities. Enjoyment like this comes at a price and it ain't cheap.
Consider when these movies were made. Videodrome (1983) created the multi-channeled world long before the thousand channel boxes we have today. And eXistenZ (1999) examined a parallel gaming world long before World Of Warcraft and Second Life were ever created.
These movies represent more than your average science fiction. They are forecasts for where we have already gone and where we are headed. Technology created by us for us to later sacrifice ourselves to. Cronenberg creates a future that is much darker than anything the Wachowski brothers or Ridley Scott ever dreamt up. A world that is not filled with spaceships and robots and laser guns. It's a world that is only a few years away.
A very real world we are traveling towards like a bullet train.