From Videodrome to Virtual Light: David Cronenberg and William Gibson

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Grace, Dominick M. "From Videodrome to Virtual Light: David Cronenberg and William Gibson." Extrapolation 44.3 (2003): 344-55. Available on line with subscription or payment at Liverpool U P, as of June 2022, here.[1]

On important parallels between the work of Gibson as "the father of cyberpunk and Cronenberg as the father of body horror" (p. 344). Holds that "Cronenberg's importance to SF can be most profitably considered in the context of the cyberpunk movement,[2] with which Cronenberg's affinities have in fact been noted on a few occasions," for which we get the example of Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr.'s "Futuristic Flu" in Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative.

Any number of elements found in Videodrome have their echoes in Gibson's work; the famous opening sentence of Neuromancer, "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" (3), for instance, suggests one of 'Videodrome's recurrent images (indeed a television screen is the first image in the film, and such screens appear throughout [...]). Case's view of life around him as "the dance of biz, information interacting, data made flesh" (Neuromancer 26) echoes Bianca O'Blivion's view of people as programmable and Max Reno's robotic reiteration of her identification of him as "the video word made flesh."

The frequent cyberpunk identification of humans as machines is in VIDEODROME, as is the idea that memories are transferable — as from one machine to another — or the trope of transcendence through technology. In VIDEODROME, we finally learn that Brian O'Blivion "exists only on videotape [...], and he sees the physical changes caused by the Videodrome signal as 'the next phase in the evolution of man as a technological animal" and the promise of a new "human reality" (Grace p. 347).

In addition to VIDEODROME and Virtual Light Grace offers important insights into Cronenberg's SCANNERS (1980/81), which see.[3]