The Perverse Cosmos of Being John Malkovich: Forms and Transformations of Narcissism in a Celebrity Culture
Abstract:When Craig, an oft-humiliated and unsuccessful street puppeteer, discovers a portal into the body of John Malkovich, he finds that fusion with a live “celebrity puppet” offers a solution to the dilemmas of being human— imperfection, vulnerability, and death. In this fantastical context, the filmmakers raise questions about intention, identity, authorship, and the wisdom of elevating narcissism over Eros. Although a desire to transcend the limitations of the mortal body may be ubiquitous, the unique solution offered in Being John Malkovich is the apparent triumph of this narcissistic fantasy, rather than an acceptance of reality. This article first explores the film's use of the universal imagery of narcissism and then examines how technology, which allows widespread access to a visually oriented media culture, and changes in the meaning of fame have altered the expression of narcissistic fantasies, as well as the anxieties that accompany their fulfillment.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2008
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Projections is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal that explores the ways in which recent advancements in fields such as psychoanalysis, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, genetics and evolution help to increase our understanding of film, and how film itself facilitates investigations into the nature and function of the mind. The journal incorporates articles on the visual arts and new technologies related to film. The aims of the journal are to explore these subjects, facilitate a dialogue between people in the sciences and the humanities, and bring the study of film to the forefront of contemporary intellectual debate.
Published on behalf of The Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image and The Forum for Movies and Mind
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