Find the Commodity (HUM415)

First thoughts. Pretty rough. Help me with this.

Q. What is the status of the commodity in Dawn of the Dead and eXistenZ?

An answer to this question might be assembled from the following elements:

1. DoD:

The Mall as mise en scene. Consumer plenitude amidst the wreckage. A fantasy of “free play”: the commodity without production OR exchange? The world of the zombie apocalypse is necessarily post-money? At some point, inevitably, the supplies will run out. At what point do the survivors become commodities, their beating hearts the alluring “nose shine” that attracts the zombie consumers. (And why do zombies want to eat brains rather than other organs? The brain as the seat of reason, affect, imagination.)

2. eXistenZ:

Slave-pod as a weird placenta-commodity. A prosthetic attached to the consumer by the umby cord, which, once ported, acts as a bridge linking and thus identifying the two. IOW, the consumer becomes the commodity. In this scenario consumption and production are simultaneous (identical?). The body is not extraneous, vestigial meat to be shed (i.e., Case in Neuromancer) but the means by which the virtual occurs.

3. Formal considerations: montage, eyeline match, biotech visual motifs.

3 thoughts on “Find the Commodity (HUM415)

  1. noreiarain

    Re: zombies wanting to eat brains, the seat of reason … Zombies must perpetuate themselves, even though they are not conscious of this drive to reproduce. The only way to do that (since they cannot reproduce organically, sexually) is to bite the living (in many versions of the zombie myth, there is the concept of infection through bite) — however, your question about why they favor the brain gives rise to the image of the brain as (like you said) the center for intellect, reason, thought, arguably what makes us human, and that which, if a subject loses it yet still retains life, would result in a zombie.

    What does that mean in relation to capitalism and we who live under it?

    — Kim A.K.

    1. apciv

      They reproduce themselves via consumption though maybe it’s not clear that reproduction is intentional? Do zombies intend? Like you say they seem bereft of subjectivity, but in the later Romero flicks– the one with Dennis Hopper as I recall– the zombies are portrayed as having some kind of consciousness. That would change a lot. Maybe the quest for brains stems (ha!) from a desire, a secret pleasure, only the zombie knows. Rather than viewing the zombie as the benighted consumer maybe the zombie is the proletarian character, imprisoned by capitalist ideology.


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