But a couple things I bounced off recently made me briefly (re-)consider what it meant to "live on video" (contemporary Surveillance Society aside).
I rewatched Videodrome a few weeks ago, for the first time in - ooh, a couple decades maybe - so it was interesting to see how things had played out realworld-wise in the meantime: but the stuff that really caught my eye this time round was not the supposed 'Body Horror' themes that Cronenberg was famous-notorious for, but the 'living on video' / interchangeability of reality & the mediadrome narrative tics. The McLuhanesque Brian O'Blivion character (a precursor / near-relative of Max Headroom, yeah?) was far more fascinating to me now than when I first saw the film in my 20s. (Love the bit where his daughter preserves an archive of video-clips of him - that's how he 'lives' now, she says, how he exists - on video! - Heh: how very Instagram, how very *er* post-Web 2.0 with its obsession for documenting, well, everything). Anyway, since re-watching it, Videodrome now seems to be all over my timeline bubble (maybe it's been on TV recently or something? Plus: combined with the sort of folks I follow / interact with online, you can see how this mini-Videodrome relevancy-resurgence might be anything but a coincidence LOL - *blows good-humoured raspberry at the RAW-aggregation / 23-coincidence micro-industry*)
Then Warren posted this yesterday, which kinda fascinated me in all sortsa ways: "It feels like a dated gag – the “television candidate” is a bit we were doing in science fiction in the 60s, 70s and 80s, after all." Yep.
And then, this, which I stumbled over early this morning, which seems like it partially answers Warren's line of thought. The head of CBS, basically saying "we want political candidates acting crazy on TV, because it's good for our revenue-streams..." which is kinda D'UHR! as soon as someone says it out loud, but normally sits below the surface of things undisturbed, and infers a sort of recursive-cultural-loop in which people already in the public eye (and on TV) are encouraged by the mediadrome to constantly act as if they're on TV - as if they only exist inside the mediadrome. Which they kinda do. And, yes, sure, it's all very 80s, as Warren rightly points out -- but also very PKD, Cyberpunk, Baudrillard, Cronenberg, etc - round up the usual suspects!
My own suspicion is that we probably climbed inside the TV-set en mass on the day that Kennedy got assassinated (Ballard hints at this very strongly) and we never quite climbed out again. It was the start of the great Mediadrome Mass Migration; they've changed the names of the boxes we're sat inside several times since then, but it's mostly variations on the same thing.
The Trans-X ("transex") single plays out some other, slightly different themes, but there are points of convergence w/ Videodrome. The record was a huge gay / non-cis hi-nrg hit which is, of course, open to all sorts of different / non-totalising interpretations, one of which might be that the idea of 'living on video' is to live your life as if on TV - (or in an MTV pop-video of that era) - to create and assimilate new identities from 'video', to borrow from unlikely and defiantly wayward role-models, to absorb and project the Fabulously Glamorous, the Other, soak up the essence of the True You whose existence is denied or suppressed in 'this' world but is revealed - becomes available (for appropriation) - when viewed on the other-side-of-the-80s-video-screen, and can be readily re-enacted on the dance-floor, the street, etc. "Living on Video" in this 80's context seems to be requesting that the listener copies costume / gestures / attitudes from video (itself an exaggerated copy of 'this' world), spin-rinses them with their own desire-deficits and reintroduces them back into 'this' world in an elevated, meta-exaggerated form of self-reinvention. Long Live the New Flesh!
Don't wanna riff too much about Videodrome itself (though it is endlessly flippin' fascinating) 'cos (a) I had some serious root-canal work done this morning and I feel utter shit right now; and (b) folks waaaay cleverer than me have written n critically sifted this far more vigorously / rigorously than I could, BUT: Cronenberg's introduction of the video-slot / slit into his protagonist's torso plays out on a number of levels, one of which could perhaps be seen as a temporary 'feminisation' of the Max Renn character - Cronenberg's body-horror-triggering here hinging on the cismale's fear / fascination of being physically penetrated - though the opposite of this invasion-of-self is Renn's 'growing' / 'fusion' of / with a gun-hand - an overtly phallic objectype - so that the character not only flips between the real world / the video world, but seesaws between 'male' / 'female' phenotypes (foreshadowed by Woods' flirting with different dominant / submissive positions earlier in the film -- tensions which he never seems to quite resolve and which mostly account for the anxieties and confusions that drive the character, the narrative and the viewer). No one in the film - male or female - is ever quite who they seem to be.
As well as acting as surrogate genitalia, the video-slot is also a portal through which data / information can be (physically) imported via the sexually 'haunted' video-cassettes. As we're all aware, real-world information received from the mediadrome can be used to 'control' societies, to disseminate false narratives and ideology, but Cronenberg seems to be saying that the information inserted via the tape (data from the 'world' of 'video') can also be culturally disruptive, revolutionary and invoke physical / ideological changes in individuals - a positive (and internet-preempting) message that seems to parallel that of certain strands of 80's hi-nrg dance-music.