YI JIAN’s review published on Letterboxd:
Experts in ancient Greek culture say that people back then didn't see their thoughts as belonging to them. When ancient Greeks had a thought, it occurred to them as a god or goddess giving an order. Apollo was telling them to be brave. Athena was telling them to fall in love.
Now people hear a commercial for sour cream potato chips and rush out to buy, but now they call it free will.
Too many screens telling us what to do, it's no surprise someone would make a horror film about television and brainwashing, fear of the unknown, obsession-- consume and be consumed. David Cronenberg's Videodrome is so convoluted there is no way to tell for sure what it's really about. It might just be what it looks like from the surface, viewing mass media from the lens of a phobic. Fear of having one's reality taken over by television, invisible radio waves and subliminal messages seeping into our brains, undetected worldwide hysteria.
It can also be viewed as a deranged study of our obsession with copulation, or perhaps the paranoia that surrounds it. Undefiable, overwhelming acts of sex. It actually makes sense seeing how so many phallic and yonic symbols (vagina on a stomach!) are littered throughout the film. "Come to me." Nicki had said. And our protagonist Max can only do so little to resist. We fear what we cannot control-- consume and be consumed. However unsettling it looks on screen, James Woods gently inserting his head into a pulsating television sounds unmistakably sexual when you put it into words. Since I've watched this for only once and am no expert in this topic, I regret to say that there is only so few I can discuss.
One thing's for sure though. The ending -- liberation. From whatever Videodrome represents. From the old flesh, old life, maybe from capitalism, maybe our own delusion and anxiety, voluntary hallucinations. If Videodrome is simply a television show, can the new flesh be seen as the internet which is slowly developing into a giant medium in the early 90's? Taking over as the new retina of the mind's eye? Yes, to take over and be taken over, consume and be consumed, then salvation. Once again Nicki appears on screen, calling for our hero. But this time the television explodes, signifying the end of Max's imprisonment, the knots untied, handcuffs uncuffed. Everyone seeks for freedom not knowing the cost that comes with it. Death to Videodrome, long live the new flesh.