Devouring bullets

bulletWhen we discussed Lord of War, many people mentioned that the intro made war technology seem “elegant” as in the helicopter scene from Black Hawk Down. Personally, I found it totally grotesque (even before it kills the child) and I think Fenichel’s scoptophilia helps to see how this might have been intentional.

It’s an easy connection to make–bullets are phallic, they penetrate. The scoptophilic interest leads to two desires: to incorporate and to destroy. Fenichel explains that “in the unconscious, to look at an object may mean various things, the most noteworthy of which are as follows: to devour the object looked at, to grow like it (be forced to imitate it), or conversely, to force it to grow like oneself.” This describes many of the responses to violence–we see the power it gives, we desire it. We see its power to destroy, we want to destroy it. In the intro to Lord of War, the close shots force us to incorporate the bullet into ourselves, to become the bullet, to “imitate it” and we feel both empathy, because we are one, and disgust, because it is an element of destruction.

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