The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology renews the collaboration between Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Žižek in a film examining ideology in contemporary capitalism. It articulates itself through engagements with a whole sequence of films, interspersing original clips with striking recreations starring Žižek so as to create the bizarre but attention-grabbing effect of Žižek leading the viewer through the cinematic archive.
There are some fabulous moments. I found Žižek’s analysis of Ramstein entertaining and insightful, with the gnawing worry I’ve had over years of going to punk gigs (“er wait isn’t there something a little bit fascist about the way this crowd operates?”) suddenly resolved through his account of the social psychology of a metal gig. His sudden appearance in an aircraft boneyard was a jarring and effective way of making a point about trash as the real of capitalism which I’d never understood when I’d encountered it in his books. Plus I love his reading of Titanic and it was visually staged to wonderful effect in the film.
But this also gets to what frustrated me about the film: I’d encountered this reading many times before. I’m certain many seeing this film will have read more Žižek than I have and yet the great majority of the film’s arguments were familiar to me from his books and articles. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, not least of all because so much value could be found in the innovative presentation of the ideas, but what seemed to be a total lack of new intellectual material did nonetheless bother me a bit.