Before you get your fists caught up, let me explain that David Fincher is first and foremost a genius. Okay, now we are on the same page, I want to essentially deconstruct Fincher’s comment that “people are perverts”, or equally that the spectator is a pervert when they engage with cinema. My reason for calling Fincher a pervert himself, is because film directing is the ultimate form of acting as a spectator, you decide exactly how perverted you want the audience’s experience to be, and therefore you are the greatest manipulator of all – you can’t tempt a pervert (the audience) without understanding how they will recieve your intentions (the film).
So what does Fincher mean by this? I don’t believe it is a throwaway comment and as Fincher himself claims, he has based his entire career on this notion. I think all film director’s have believed this, whether or not they were acutely aware of the term. After all, why else would an audience want to sit in a dark room and have the gates opened onto someone else’s life and all their upheavals? We go to experience and be entertained by another’s pain (the character), and in doing so, project and release our own problems into this fantasy space. We can leave cleansed, for the time being. A pervert seeks this pleasure in which they will not be the obstacle, they will not have to face the consequences, their conscience will be left untamed. A pervert wants this, it is a sure way to turn things on their head, and cinema is a great way to reveal an upside-down nature (Seven and Fight Club go lengths to reveal disturbing elements of true nature, as do all Fincher’s films, in fact, Gone Girl is probably the best example).
A pervert is not only a Peeping Tom, but inevitably someone who wishes to satisfy their own desires. We all have this element of ego, but the cinema exploits it in almost a dangerous fashion. It is a pure ego formulation, our ego drive is solely at work when we view a film, there is no concern of the Id or Superego (no need for survival or ethitcal/moral regulations). We could psychoanalyse this further, but it is clear that Fincher intended to plainly state that “people of perverts” and that is why they go to the cinema and enjoy watching his films!
Why do I say that David Fincher is a Pervert? Because he is a film director, and to be a film director you simply have to be a voyeur par excellence!
I would love to talk more about cinema spectatorship and the Lacanian gaze, the voyeur, and so on, but instead I recommend you pick up the following book on film theory by Todd McGowan, The Real Gaze. It is delicious, to say the least.
Finally, and for the good sake of it, here is an illuminating video essay on Fincher’s works: