Movie Review: “A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology” – The Perverse Pleasures We Embrace

Written by Foster Dyck November 15, 2013

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When I heard the creators of “Zeitgeist” were releasing a British documentary (not created by themselves) which examined social and theological problems which they felt were substantially like their own beliefs, I was more than excited. I can’t say I full-heartedly believe what they preach in “A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology”, but I always get my fair share of enjoyment from questioning their views on the world order, noticing any self-contradictions, and ultimately reflecting on how my view aligns with their theories.

“A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology” is all about, you guessed it, ideology. How it manifests, how it can be both good and bad, and what it demands. The movie doesn’t follow any sort of story structure, rather it is a combination of examples from movies, history, and other sources combined to leave the viewer with a broad image for them to interpret. One of the main themes of the movie is that good ideology is made to be universal and interpreted by all cultures, regardless of internal differences.

Its all different recipes using the same ingredients

Slavoj Zizek (writer and star) and Sophie Fiennes (creator) use Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” as an example of something that is used all around the world in different political, religious, and cultural areas. It is used by all of these people because it entices an emotion which we feel deeply but cannot quite explain. We need to be able to explain some of it ourselves, fill in the blanks, or else the ideology can’t be grasped by everyone. Zizek makes many great points assessing the problems we face in any number of situations. He speaks to how our inability to explain some emotions with words manifests as violence, how a multitude of fears that overwhelm people can be overcome by one large fear, and much more. It all leads to the conclusion that we create in our ideologies the façade of the everyday man who is a servant to duty- a servant to the ‘great other’- may that great other be God or a political manifestation.  It is to this façade of the ‘great other’ that we maintain social images.

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In summary Zizek feels there is a pool of qualities which get used and reused in a multitude of ways in any number of ideologies all reflecting the hidden laws of the culture which spawned them; the most central idea of which is the following of someone who, for one reason or another, has a superior, or even divine, guide to their goal. We need an ideology which excludes no one, and only then will we have any kind of true world ideology.

Movies make good examples but do they hold true?

This movie captured me from the beginning. It was an extremely well done transition between the movie clips, confession style monologue, and historic excerpts. It pieced together a picture of ideologies, their similarities, and their problems/solutions. Zizek states many things which seem very believable at first, but lack an applicable quality (which is ironic as he advocates for that himself). He did a good job of enticing attention and being as unbiased as possible in his presentation of what he sees to be the order of the world.

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“Pretend to renounce and you can get it off”

The single biggest flaw I found in the movie was the self-contradiction he makes in his theories about ideology and the very fact Zizek is presenting an ideology himself.  It didn’t help his case that he kept the pace of the film very fast and full of information. It was almost as if he were presenting it the very same way many of the ideologies he condemns, overwhelming one with believable ‘facts’ and then telling them what is right (leaving a little room for your own interpretation).

“Instability is the way Capitalism functions.”

If you are like me and can enjoy a fast paced, information filled, and possibly controversial movie filled with somewhat unbelievable theories about society, then watch “A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology”. Zizek points out some astute observations and draws believable conclusions about how they may lock into our functions, even if they hold no more merit than the ideologies they oppose.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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