The Real Existenz Transcendz the Irreal (1) (Critical Essay) By Extrapolation

The Real Existenz Transcendz the Irreal (1) (Critical Essay)

By Extrapolation

  • Release Date: 2004-09-22
  • Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines

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Description

I recall the dazed stupor I experienced when I first saw David Cronenberg's 1999 film, eXistenZ (the pronunciation of which emphasizes the final syllable: ex * i * STENZ). (4) I had read a fairly positive review of the film, (5) and generally thought Cronenberg's films worth seeing, despite what I perceived to be the failings of Crash. I was also in the early stages of a relationship, and so I asked my partner if she wanted to see the film. "I don't know anything about it," she said. "Well, I've heard good things." As we waded through the gratuitous violence and gore and the heavily overdetermined sexual imagery, we both thought the thing would never end. It eventually did, although it seemed much longer than ninety-seven minutes. The relationship eventually ended, too, and I couldn't help but think there was a connection. Among the things which Cronenberg seems to be tackling in his film is the gaming industry itself: the violence and gore of the gaming world; the utter seriousness and devotion of the invited fans; the religious aspects of gaming (the demonstration of the game is held in a church); and, as many of the reviews of the film have noted, the negative effects of addiction to games and gaming. It mocks the simultaneously serious and comical names of games, such as "eXistenZ" and "transCendenz," and company names such as "PilgrImage." The film also mocks the falseness of the game world--which people find even "more real" than their own lives--and the silliness of the worlds created in games, such as the Trout Farm. In several interviews, however, Cronenberg asserts that the film has very little to do with addiction or with gaming, at all. Instead, he argues that the original impetus for the film was the idea of an artist on the run for her life because of her art--an idea that was prompted following an interview with Salman Rushdie wherein he discusses the fatwa. (6)