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Minerbo, M. (2008). Reality Game: Contemporary Violence and Denaturization of Language. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 89(5):1047-1055.

(2008). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 89(5):1047-1055

Films Essays

Reality Game: Contemporary Violence and Denaturization of Language

Marion Minerbo

In Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange (1971), there is a particularly disturbing scene where, in an abandoned theatre, Alex's gang watches as another gang rapes a woman. For a few seconds, one is unsure whether it is a rehearsal and they are merely acting, or an actual assault. The main character stares at the spectacle unfolding before them and comments: “They are doing the old in-out”. In my interpretation of the film, there is a relationship between a certain type of contemporary violence and language.

This film is about a certain type of violence which we may call ‘contemporary’ since, as we shall see, what is at stake is the fragility of the symbol. It is a recreational violence, apparently without a motive, carried out by adolescents against innocent and vulnerable targets. It calls to mind the case of the gang that set fire to a native Brazilian Indian in Brasilia, and other acts of violent vandalism against people and property in luxury condominiums. This film is also about the attempt to cure this type of violence by means of ‘modern’ scientific methods. The conditioning of behaviour presupposes that the human being can be treated as an animal unequipped with language, and that one can overlook and simply steer clear of the symbolic determination of subjectivity. Thus, the lack of confidence in the power of the symbol seems to determine the two sides of the coin — violence itself and the proposed treatment. I do not intend to be lengthy regarding the latter aspect.

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