Zizek is Confusing! But a Genius

Zizek, although hard to understand at times, knows his movies. In The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, he illustrates his views about movies largely by comparing many classic movies, such as Psycho, to Sigmund Freud’s research on the human mind. He states that, in Psycho, when Norman Bates is moving from floor to floor in his mother’s house, each level represents a level of the human psyche (the ego, superego, and id). This started me thinking about possible Freudian influences in Mulholland Drive, specifically the roles of Diane, Betty and the ugly homeless man. Zizek blurs the definitions of the superego and the id in his “Guide,” but if we take Diane to be her character’s ego, then I believe the homeless man is her id and Betty is her superego. However, this could also be interpreted to mean that the homeless man is her superego because he almost plays the “nagging mother” role in the movie, similarly to Norman’s mother in Psycho.


A great point Zizek made is in reference to the way we perceive reality. He states that no one actually wants to know what reality truly is behind all of these worldly illusions, because reality is just these illusions and nothing more. He laments the lack of a third pill in The Matrix, a pill that would allow one to perceive reality as it is and still exist within the illusion. However, I thought about this long after he stopped talking about it, and I realized that Neo in The Matrix is the embodiment of this third pill because he does perceive the reality of the Matrix as illusion, which is why he is able to bypass arbitrary laws set in place to make the illusion more believable.


The point Zizek made where he asserted that movies tend to alter only one aspect of reality really got me thinking about it. He said that if one takes away all the horror from a horror film, such as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, what we’re left with is the bare story. But good films have stories that challenge the actors as well as the audience to put themselves into the situation. This gave me a profound new respect for actors, because these people react to these manipulations of reality, but we as the audience react with them; actors guide our emotions with their own, making the audience seem somewhat like sheep following a shepherd. Truly great movies don’t do this though; instead, they force the audience directly into the situation and make them react in novel ways to novel scenarios.

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