Our fantasies that eat us

“If man were happy, he would be all the happier the less entertained he was. writes Pascal. Understand: if man were intrinsically happy, if his very life corresponded to the happiness for which he was made, he would not need to be entertained by his dreary daily life. And on top of that, if he enjoyed eternal bliss like God and the saints, he would not need to organize parties to divert his attention from death, the threatening shadow that will fall on him from one day to another. Pascal knows that life is not always rosy, and that entertainment has the advantage of being “the only thing that consoles us for our miseries”. He adds, however, that this same entertainment “is the greatest of our miseries”. A dark paradox. And marvelously fair, since “entertainment amuses us and brings us imperceptibly to death”. But once dead, how can we still do good, serve God, truly love? It will be too late, and we should have thought about it sooner, rather than having fun.

The other night, to amuse myself with these Thoughts very high but a little depressing, I went to see Boop, by Jordan Peele (a film released a few weeks ago). Stroke of luck: here I am in front of a masterpiece. Great Hollywood cinema: funny like Billy Wilder (irony, gags, facial expressions from the actors), virtuoso like Jeff Nichols (beautiful, but without affectation), intelligent like Hitchcock (we rack our brains all along). Failure of the operation: the film questions me deeply about my penchant for entertainment. Peele’s camera, never intrusive, carries us along to the rhythm of the setbacks of a family of horse breeders for the cinema (the mise en abyme is one of the main motifs of the work). Little by little, the bizarre invites itself into the slow daily life of the Haywoods, in particular OJ (Daniel Kaluuya), whose taciturn and suspicious face must face the enigmatic death of his father, the strong character of his sister Em (Keke Palmer), then to the movements in the sky of a strange and voracious flying saucer (could it be an animal?). Here is also a cheesy amusement park, where failed shows follow one another in front of sparse bleachers…

The possible readings of this mystery film are certainly countless. But I try my luck: in the form of a flashback, a murderous chimpanzee serves as the key to reading Jordan Peele’s story. Where some have seen a critique of animal exploitation for entertainment purposes (the monkey trained to make viewers laugh slaughters his human counterparts), another interpretation is possible: it’s a brilliant meditation on the Frankenstein myth. Because the chimpanzee is a synthetic image that has become violent (a scene with balloons allows me to strongly support this reading, go and see). The flying saucer, animal, carnivorous, with changing shape, is also a human creation, escaped from an amusement park (the cries of its victims also resemble those of the passengers of a roller coaster).

In short, my hand to cut: Jordan Peele’s film is a reflection on the ability of our inventions to turn against ourselves. In the Apocalypse, the « image » of the Beast comes to life « to the point that this image begins to speak, and kills all those who do not bow down before it » (Rev 13.15). In Nope, conversely, the entertainment monster devours those who worship him. The idols we have created to entertain us risk swallowing us up without warning, just as the fantasies materialized on the screens already know how to kill their slaves (young anorexics disfigured by Instagram, pornography, etc.). And Peele ratifies Pascal.


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