Your reaction to The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, the latest cine-lecture from Sophie Fiennes and Slavoj Zizek, will depend almost entirely upon your response to Zizek himself, a Slovenian philosopher whose appearance suggests a homeless lumberjack on speed.
Yoking together disparate topics with critical theory, Zizek’s fixation is revealing the social and psychological prejudices latent in pop culture. The film features Zizek parsing a number of films and their relations to history; keeping us visually stimulated, Fiennes has Zizek inhabiting the set of each film as he discusses it.
In essence, the film is a lecture, but Zizek’s associative thinking and understanding of the applicability of psychoanalysis makes it a lecture like no other. Linking West Side Story to the 2011 London riots (rebellious cultural movements’ self-aware exploitation of liberal ideology), The Dark Knight to WMDs and the Iraq War (the “noble lie” required for the sake of cohesive narratives), even Jaws to the Holocaust (stunning, but yes — the object that is manipulated to take the place of all fears), Zizek’s critiques illustrate how pop culture implicitly advances ideologies without us even being aware.
Zizek’s goal is to fulfill a role similar to the first film he discusses, They Live: Like the sunglasses in that picture, he’s interested in revealing the inherent systems of thought we unwittingly buy into. This critic expects that audiences willing to take a highly unusual cinematic journey will be seeing things rather differently as they leave the theater.