understanding media


Videodrome, also known in Canada as Network of Blood and Zonekiller, was written and directed by David Cronenberg and stars James Woods and Deborah Harry. The film was originally released in 1983; a Criterion Collection DVD was released in 2004.

The film tells the story of Max Renn, the president of a cheap cable TV station in Toronto called Channel 83, who chances upon a sleazy, violent broadcast called 'Videodrome'. As he watches, the broadcasts begin to affect his mind and he finds himself unable to distinguish between his increasingly gruesome hallucinations and reality.

Videodrome is an ideal case study for many of the themes at which we look in this module. In terms of the vehicle strand, the film has an unusual narrative structure, is hard to classify, raises difficult questions concerning representation, and explicitly addresses the relationship between audience and text. Additionally, considering the environment strand of the module, Cronenberg is familiar with the work of his fellow Canadian Marshall McLuhan and deliberately engages with several of the communication theorist's ideas, including media as extensions and environments, as hot or cool, and the notion of discarnate man and virtual identities. One of the film's characters - Brian O'Blivion - is even based on McLuhan. The film as a whole can be read as a disturbing, self-reflective meditation on the power of television, as well as a visceral, thought-provoking satire on attempts at media censorship.

Frazer, B. (no date). Videodrome. Deep Focus. Retrieved on 12th March 2005 from: http://www.deep-focus.com/flicker/videodro.html. A short, thoughtful review of Cronenberg's film, focusing on his camera work, cutting, dark humour, and the themes of the media, sex, violence and transgression that the director addresses.
Grace, D. M. (2003). From Videodrome to Virtual Light: David Cronenberg and William Gibson. Extrapolation, 44(3), pp. 344-55.
Hotchkiss, L. M. (2003). 'Still in the Game': Cybertransformations of the 'New Flesh' in David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. The Velvet Light Trap, 52 (Fall), pp. 15-32. A comparison of Videodrome and Cronenberg's later film eXistenZ, which includes discussion of the nature of the 'new flesh', cyberpunk, The Thirteenth Floor, The Matrix, Plato's Allegory of the Cave, and much more.
Latham, R. (1997). Screening Desire: Posthuman Couplings in Atom Egoyan's Speaking Parts and David Cronenberg's Videodrome. Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy, 70, pp.171-82.
Lucas, T. (no date). Medium Cruel: Reflections on Videodrome. Criterion Collection website. Retrieved on 30th December 2007 from: http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=248&eid=380&section=essay. A fascinating insight into the making of Videodrome by Tim Lucas, the only journalist allowed onto the set. Concentrates principally on earlier drafts of the script and how certain special effects were achieved.
Lucas, T. (2007a). Video WatchBlog (2nd August 2007). Retrieved on 3rd January 2008 from: http://videowatchdog.blogspot.com/2007/08/your-faithful-blogger-on-videodrome-set.html. Four stills from the set of Videodrome.
Lucas, T. (2007b). Videodrome. Lakewood, CO: Millipede. Book-length analysis of the film.
Martin, J. (1983). Videodrome. London: New English Library. The novelization of the film by 'Jack Martin' (pen-name of Dennis Etchison), based on Cronenberg's scripts.
Rickey, C. (2004). Make Mine Cronenberg. Village Voice, January 1983; revised May 2004. Retrieved on 30th December 2007 from: http://www.criterion.com/asp/release.asp?id=248&eid=371&section=essay. A brief overview of Cronenberg's films up to 1983, with observations on the director's preoccupation with sex, repression, technology and the body, as well as his peculiarly cerebral approach to horror.
Shaw, D. B. (2002). 'The Video Word Made Flesh': Spectacular Transgressions in David Cronenberg's Videdrome. Foundation, 84, pp. 22-35.
Trivia for Videodrome (no date). Retrieved 20th March 2005 from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086541/trivia. A short collection of trivia concerned with the making of Videodrome.
Unseen Videodrome (no date). Cronendrome. Retrieved on 12th March 2005 from: http://www.blue-bottle.co.uk/unseen.htm. [No longer online.] This short piece recounts some of the deleted scenes from Videodrome with accompanying images taken from publicity stills and the American cable television cut of the film.
Young, S. S.-F. (2002). 'Forget Baudrillard': The Horrors of 'Pleasure' and the Pleasures of 'Horror' in David Cronenberg's Videodrome. Cross Cultures, 56, pp. 147-74.