David Cronenberg is sharply aware of the use of violence and sex in media, and how such aspects are discussed when it comes to art. His latest film, “Crimes of the Future,” contains a good amount of sex, although it takes place in a future where humans are evolving, and people are randomly growing novel internal organs. Surgically removing said organs has come to replace sexual intercourse. Such films can feel like distant outliers when one looks at the general cinematic landscape, seeing massive financial success awarded to not-too-violent, not-at-all-sexy PG-13 action flicks.
Cronenberg, now 79, sees a dichotomy in the media landscape. In a 2022 interview with i-D Magazine, the filmmaker talked about the more extreme forms of art that one can now easily find on streaming, but also how the same audience will occasionally seek something safe. There’s no reason an adult audience, he feels, can’t feel an equal thirst for, say, “Ant-Man” as well as a curious surgery-as-sex sci-fi contemplation like “Crimes of the Future.” He said:
“[B]ecause of streaming, you’re seeing a lot more blood, violence, sex than ever before — but to me that’s fine. It means there are fewer controls on artistic expression. Whether you want that or not, well you can switch it off! You have control, it’s not forced on you. It’s convenient for regulators to claim we’re numb to violence, but I honestly don’t buy it. People are interested in being comfortable with their entertainment, but they’re also interested in being pushed to the edges of their perception and understanding. Both of those things have always been there.”
In short, no person is only one thing. We are large. Each member of the multitudes contains multitudes.