Still Life (Betamale)

Still Life (Betamale)

Jacques Lacan once said that what separates us from animals is the extraordinary embarrassment we feel about the evacuation of our own shit: "Man is the only animal for whom this is a problem, and it's a prodigious one."

For Lacan, "great civilization = pipes and sewers", because pipes and sewers act as a "phenomenon of repression" for the primal aversion we have to the waste that comes from and out of our bodies.

The limits of this aversion are stretched to the absolute maximum by Jon Rafman's short film, Still Life (Betamale). In a sense, the film reflects a picture of the internet as the complete opposite of a waste disposal network: instead of a dark place to jettsion our excremental thoughts and maladaptive desires into, it is instead a gateway through which we might excavate them, bring them back up.

By highlighting the highly personal relationship people have with their computers (mainly through the literal transference of bodily filth onto the pictured machines), Rafman is able to show how the computer can become fused with its owner, how it can become an organ which circumvents repression through the insane ease at which it allows one to explore and satiate any perverted feeling or fecal thought.

I'm not taking the piss when I say that this is one of the most harrowing films I have ever seen. I first watched it when it came out, and for weeks I could see it whenever I closed my eyes. It burnt itself into me; particularly the repeated shot of the furry sinking further and further into a pool of quickmud. There's something about the fursuit's dead eyes masking a very real drowning human that absolutely haunts me.

And so Still Life (Betamale) is beyond stomach-turning, but then that's the point: it forces us to confront the depths of depravity that lie within the defective pleasure-machine that is the internet. Highly recommended for anyone who has access to Earth-ending technology and is looking for that final push to pull the trigger.

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