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By Graham Rae | August 31, 2004

“Sex times technology equals the future.” – JG Ballard

Television, as David Cronenberg so presciently theorized in his 1982 televisual mindfuck “Videodrome”, is indeed the retina of the mind’s eye. All the world’s a stage, and we’re all bit-part actors in the film of life, being caught daily from a multitude of camera angles wherever we may be, our images ultimately ending up…who knows where and when and why?

“Peep “TV” Show” director Yutaka Tsuchiya certainly knows this fact all too well, and amply demonstrates his understanding of Cronenberg’s cracked cathode credo during the running time of this super-modern, fascinating DV feature. He brings us the story of jaded Tokyo street punks who break into people’s homes and then wire the places up for transmission of footage across the internet for a fee, uncaring of the moral quandries raised by their voyeuristic image piracy.

The psychopathologies demonstrated by these kids are disturbing and extremely contemporary. Image-saturated and completely cut off from any meaningful human contact, these unknowing-human-channel-hoppers boredly observe couples making love or fighting or suffocating cats in plastic bags, and none of it means a damned thing to them. They’ve been so overloaded by the constant daily bombardment of images in their lives that the lines between fantasy and reality no longer exist. Events like 9/11 are just a more extreme kick for them to m********e to, any human tragedy implicit in the destruction of the Twin Towers rendered meaningless by the fact it is only a movie to these nihilistic onlookers.

Whilst it is sex, or the promise thereof, that garners the internet channel many viewers, the ironic thing is that the onlookers watching real, unsuspecting people f*****g, can’t even get a kick out of the footage anymore, and comment apathetically about how the sexual partners look like “monkeys”. Breaks from sex are provided by monologues from super-alienated Tokyo youth who betray their own suicidal, schizoid, shut-in mindsets by fantasizing about the destruction of all Tokyo in an atom bomb-like guttering lavacrash wall of flame a la 9/11 because their lives are utterly meaningless and, as one young man puts it, “I feel like I’m sleepwalking through reality and can’t find an exit.” It’s all very reminiscent of Travis Bickle’s alienated rants at the world, and Tsuchiya has nailed the modern image-blurred schizoid mind(numb)set perfectly.

Visually, the film is extremely interesting, with obvious influences from the internet from stuff like toiletcams (set up to watch people pissing in close-up, in case any of you readers out there haven’t explored this fetish-image-spraying avenue off the disinformation superhighway) and webcams, as well as street security cameras and the like. It’s utterly fascinating and extremely well made, seemingly light years ahead of any Western movie musings on the current state of our alienated, fragile, image-f****d psyches. But then again, given how scary and adrift in an ultra-bombastic never-ending ever-changing product-advertising pretty-color nothing-meaning image-sea these Tokyo kids are, maybe that’s a blessing. We’ll get there soon enough though…

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