The story of Shame could be analyzed from many different perspectives, but it is doubtful that nominalism lovers will draw any conclusions from the “Brandon case.” This is because Brandon is not only addicted to live and in person sex, but he also is a man loaded with consumer goods that range from television to cocaine, from porn, his I-Pod, erotic toys and so on… He could also be regarded as an addict to “adrenaline,” to risk, to danger, to speed, and the list goes on.
Brandon is a suffering subject. He does not have any symbolic tool to help him handle the effects of a subjective division, and so he finds three immediate consequences: the nullity of desire, the fleetness of his passage to the act as a mainstay against anguish and his failure to build links with others. If there is an addiction, there is no clear-cut classification for it. It is about a contemporary subject pushed by the drive of jouissance and the capitalist discourse linked to science.
In the middle of the film, Brandon reproaches Sissy with having done nothing with her life. As opposed to this, he says, “I have a great job, I have a car, and I have my own apartment in mid-town Manhattan.”
In another scene, at the restaurant where Sissy works as a singer, she performs a very sad and sexy version of the song New York, New York while staring at her brother who is among the spectators. It is not what she says but the way she says it. Her enunciation gives a new sense to the American show business anthem. Just when Sissy reaches the summit of the American dream: It’s up to you, New York, New York… Brandon starts crying, his tears falling as he gazes at the floor.
Brandon feels disgrace (shame) and abashment (shame). It is then that he realizes the extent to which the New York City he likes to use as a badge of success does not depend on him.
Apparently, the film director’s spirit is in the scene we have just described. In one interview he declared, “Shame focuses on a guy, Brandon, who is an attractive man, he has a good job, he’s well paid, has all the freedoms and all the possibilities you could want. And in this situation he puts himself in a prison”3. What gets smashed by the market slogan is precisely this canny gaze of the artist. Because it turns Shame into the psychiatric story of a pervert.
But maybe the New York, New York sequence is where we can find an invitation to psychoanalysis, the possibility of a clinic that is not unaware of the Real. Much to the contrary, it is oriented by it.
It is here that the visage of the capitalist speech representing the American dream (it’s up to you) fails. It is here that the deepest fiber of any addiction finally shows up; and it is here that psychoanalysis might arrive in “New York” and tell them one more time: “We are bringing you the plague” .
1 See Eric Laurent: Journal Du Congres N˚3: www.eol.org.ar/congresos/congresos/amp_2010/journal-es/jj03.pdf
2 Director: Steve McQueen. Country: United Kingdom. Year: 2011. Genre: Drama. Main Actors: Michael Fassbender (Brandon), Carey Mulligan (Sissy). 3 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
4 Phrase assigned to Freud when arriving to New York and observing the Statue of Liberty.