Montesquieu (whose full name hardly anyone knows – I do: Charles Louis Joseph de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, thanks to the wonderful connections on the cheap that my mind can usually establish: Charlot is the second) enumerated the three classic powers that all states have (executive, legislative, and judicial). Later other powers have been added to the list: fourth power (the press and mass media in general) and the fifth power, which applies to such different things as state economic intervention and the use of social networks. I have even read that the term “fifth power” also applies to organized crime. There are people who leave the sixth place for the growing power of big business.
So, the only place left for the main theme of this blog entry is the seventh: cinema is the first power, no matter what Montesquieu says and the subsequent theorists.
Cinema determines ordinary lives of cinephiles. Like me. It is, without doubt, the very first power. The power of cinema is such that it influences behavior change more effectively than Pavlov.
Don’t you think cinema deserves the highest step on the podium if you take into account that it is its fault every time I take a shower I have to latch the bathroom door and put a portable pull-up bar, always watching the door intently, absolutely horrified, through the bath screen, neglecting my body soaping? And in spite of all these security measures (sometimes I even strengthen that barricade with the laundry hamper), every time I take a shower I can see -absolutely terrified- how the bathroom door opens slowly and Norman Bates, dressed as his dead mother comes in, wielding a butcher knife.
Can you really refuse to give cinema the first place among all the super-powerful powers knowing that since the 1970s I can’t even approach the shore line where the water meets the beach, let alone get in the water. The very idea of swimming in the sea after I saw Spielberg’s Jaws is absolutely inconceivable. Even if Ben-Hur came to me and tied my hands and feet to his chariot and dragged me out to the deep water skiing style, I would managed to bury my arms so deep in the sand that with the colossal strength come from my desperation I would open up a chasm so very wide and so very deep that it would engulf me and the charioteer with his steeds, ending my misery forever. The mere fact of getting close to the water’s edge makes my heart thump madly. An irrepressible terror forces me to scan the horizon wildly, searching for the killer fin.
Cinema (in its general meaning, TV and film content, no matter which devise you use to view it: tablets, smartphones, laptops, etc.) has the power of giving and taking away whimsically. Cinema gave me a strong desire to go on a romantic cruise back in the 70s, when I was completely absorbed by that TV series “The Love Boat”. Later, in the 90s, James Cameron’s Titanic made me quickly dismiss the idea (I have had a double trauma: I embark on a cruiser that sinks, I fall into the sea and am eaten alive by sharks)
I can’t be behind a bald man (on the bus, waiting in a queue, in a shop, anywhere). A bald man’s nape mesmerises me, especially if he is a fat bald man.
And if he has a sticking-plaster on the nape, then I go into a paroxysm. Marcellus Wallace’snape drives me crazy. I have to restrain myself not to slap a bald man’s nape when I see one.
I can only wear a poncho if I also put on a cowboy hat and, although I have never smoked in my whole life, on such occasions I feel compelled to put a cigar in my mouth. Dressed up that way, a frown creasing my brow, I leave my home letting out an imitation of a coyote’s howl.
I always have the curtains shut in my living room to avoid the temptation to watch the building opposite. I don’t want to surprise a neighbor killing his wife. That obsession reached pathological proportions when I sprained my ankle.
When someone eats spaghetti by my side I can’t take my eyes off his belly, constantly expecting the fatal moment when a foul xenomorph, with retractable jaws, claws its way out of the poor devil, splashing his guts on my face.
As you can see, I am a puppet at its mercy, an enslaved zombie, a victim of celluloid that keeps me subjugated. I am a hardened lamb because I can’t stop watching films over and over again. I bet you anything there are a lot of people like me, but they don’t say a word for fear of being considered freaks of nature.
So, these are the reasons why I can say that Montesquieu is absolutely wrong.