Zizek Opera

Slavoj Zizek: ‘Blah Blah Blah Ideology Blah Tits, and So On and So On’

Slavoj Zizek recently took to the pages of The Baffler in an article aptly named “Camera Shy, Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah.”

He begins by discussing a device that, in a nutshell, is a combo Google Glass/projector duct-taped to your head. The camera takes in data about objects in front of you and can project data back onto whatever object your are near.

My god! Pure ideology! Or possibly, a cool invention that will force all of your friends to abandon you. Zizek writes:

…And then immediately the Internet gets the data about the object and projects them onto any plain surface. You interact with a real object, but at the same time you can project on it all the data. And I think it’s an interesting thing because the effect is a kind of magic. Objects answer you, telling all about themselves.

You can imagine my first reaction: it must be wonderful to do this in seduction. Okay, it holds also for women, but from my male chauvinist perspective, I look at the woman, and it’s projected on her. She likes anal sex, she likes her breasts pinched, she likes this music, she likes that. You get instant data on the girl. This is ideology at its purest. And isn’t it how our real lives are structured? Let’s say you are an anti-Arab, anti-Jewish, or anti-black racist. Isn’t it exactly the same as what happens when you see a real Arab or Jew or black guy? It is as if you project on him all your implicit racist knowledge. You see that he’s evil, a danger to you, or whatever, blah blah. I think it’s a perfect metaphor for our spontaneous ideology.

And no Zizek article is complete without some random segue into pornography. Zizek argues that women are not objectified in traditional porn. After all, they get to look at the cameras. Who does that!

 I absolutely disagree with Laura Mulvey, the cinema theorist, that in heterosexual pornography, the woman is reduced to the object of the male gaze. Not at all. Do you notice how the woman being fucked is allowed to break the basic rule of fiction movies and look directly into the camera? Men, no. You don’t identify with the man fucking the woman. He is a pure instrument. If you are a hetero guy observing a hardcore movie, what you are looking for—and this is signaled to you by the woman—is some confirmation that the woman really enjoys it. The true object is the poor guy, usually some poor sailor fucking her. Which is why the woman, as a rule, has to make all those sounds all the time.

To read the rest of Zizek’s babbling about porn, check out the full article at The Baffler.

  • Gabriel Chase

    That’s an interesting point about porn and the camera…

  • Diogenes Search Injun

    There’s a problem with the Baffler link. It was fine up to the other day. I just googled it, and the same problem occurred with the link there. It seems there might be an attempt to mis/re-direct people.

    • Diogenes Search Injun

      The Baffler link is working again.

      • Piero Lumiere

        The Baffler links, including my previous one, either go to a security warning, or ‘page not found’, but the article is here: http://thebaffler.com/odds-and-ends/camera-shy-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah
        Re-reading the article, it is ‘odd’, and without an ‘end’. It’s not really a typical Zizek article. Not least as it hasn’t appeared elsewhere in subsequent books.
        His points that ‘pornography is the most censored genre you can imagine’, apart from the ambiguity of that very sentence, are puzzling, and vague.
        Zizek never cites specific scenes, and shows little sign of having read any studies of porn as a genre, such as Linda Williams’s book, Hard Core.
        More recently, Nina Power has written on the history of porn, going back to early silent French cinema: https://newhumanist.org.uk/articles/1500/naughty-but-nice
        Plus, Jack Sargeant on Serge Gainsbourg’s film, Je t’aime moi non plus, is a more considered challenge to the orthodoxies on sex in cinema: http://sensesofcinema.com/author/jack-sargeant/ than Zizek has offered, apart from a more typical piece in The Plague of Fantasies.

        • Piero Lumiere

          I forgot one ‘study’ which Zizek has referenced briefly, in recent years, a French documentary by Raphael Siboni, There Is No Sexual Rapport, as the French title was translated worldwide, rather than the more usual, confusing translation of the Lacanian phrase, there is no sexual relationship. A more detailed review of the film is here: https://cinefemale.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/there-is-no-sexual-rapport/ The more widely-released 2014 film, Unfriended, also references the film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2025570/trivia?tab=mc& The film is available on a North American-released dvd, a rip of which is on a rare film site, not a dedicated porn-related film site. I’ve watched neither.
          Yesterday I was reading the ‘appendix’ ‘on the sexual act in cinema’, in The Plague of Fantasies, and as it’s Zizek’s only sustained writing on that subject, it’s certainly worth reading. But although it’s from 1997, bits of it are familiar from more recent writing, including the piece under consideration.