Videodrome: A Cinematic Study on the Influence of Mass Media


"Long Live the New Flesh"

Cronenberg’s 1983 surreal thriller “Videodrome” if anything, is probably understood better today than it was 30 years ago upon its release. Videodrome examines the power of the media and it’s control over people’s minds, and in this case, people’s flesh.


Max Renn (James Woods) plays the president of a sleazy Canadian television station that specializes in providing viewers with soft-core porn and other trashy, low-budget violent shows. He’s yearning for so much more and is tired of the regularity that encapsulates his every-day life. That’s when he discovers Videodrome. He’s shown a signal that crossed their station’s lines of a woman being beaten and shocked by an electrified wall. Videodrome is a show centered specifically on torture and murder. No plot, no characters, no story. Max is immediately hooked.


As the film progresses, we find out that Videodrome is actual snuff film and everything going on is real. Max has watched Videodrome so many times that is has lead to him suffering strange hallucinations like the beautiful stomach-gina that accepts VHS tapes pictured below. Thanks, Cronenberg.



He finds out that everyone who views Videodrome develops malignant brain tumors and further finds out that Videodrome is being used in a socio-political war of mind control. The producer wants Max to air Videodrome so all the low life’s wo watch trash tv like that would be wiped out.


Videodrome does a damn near perfect job at analyzing the power media has over people. There’s a great line in Videodrome by the virtuous, late creator of Videodrome that really brings it all into perspective: “The screen is the retina of the mind’s eye.” If you see it, you can certainly believe it. In an age where we are clicks away from videos of two girls eating poop out of a bowl or from videos of dudes blowing their brains out on camera, it’s incredibly important that we acknowledge the true power behind the internet and media.


Towards the end of Videodrome, Max has been brainwashed by the producer of Videodrome and has been ordered to kill his partners at his TV station so they can air Videodrome to the public. He does just that and goes on to kill Bianca O’Blivion, the daughter of one of the creators of Videodrome, who originally created the Videodrome program to better the future of society through television. However, she reprograms him out of their trance and is now programmed to go on and kill the evil producer of Videodrome.


This sequence of Renn’s reversible brainwashing is such a relatable scene to watch today. Imagine all the people you know who are completely blank mental states that only regurgitate bullshit they see on Twitter. At this point, Max has been so exposed to Videodrome that he is completely dispensable and has no clear vision of what reality actually is.


“Videodrome has a philosophy and that’s what makes it so dangerous.” Videodrome, and in 2018’s case, the media, has a philosophy. Whether that be for power, money, politics, etc. is all up to what kind of wacky conspiracy theorist you are. Nonetheless, there is still a motive. This results in shit being shown on TV through shows or ads that are subliminally spreading propaganda for someone, whether we’re aware of it or not. I mean, why else are people like the Kardashians famous? They’re simply distractions and great sources for planting materialistic, consumer ideals into the minds of those watching. (Besides Kendall Jenner, I love you baby)


All I’m saying is, think for yourself. Some kind of value or agenda is always going to be pushed and I know it can be so easy to just recite what you saw in a quick headline or Instagram caption, but it’s important to look at everything on an objective plane. Research everything you’re going to talk on, read both sides of the story, and always look further than your eyes will let you. 

- Young Gosling