The problem with art is Michael Haneke.

Just a thought.

Basile Lebret
6 min readFeb 17, 2022


Recently I watched Benny’s Video. If one were to stalk my Twitter profile, I guess they’d find that I watched this movie less than a week ago. Let me be straight. I never liked whatever I stumbled upon of Haneke’s work.

This said we all like what we like. And nonetheless, I think that the problem with art resides solely on his shoulders.

We, as an audience, now live in a time were a cast of diverse protagonists, of diverse condition seems to be the goal of most of the creative forces. You can have body horror written by trans writers, family drama written by BIPOC. When we’re not referring to the hypocrisy of big production company trying to sell you pluriculturalsim through their token supporting cast, when we look at the emerging forces, we know we are living interesting times.

Sure, the covid and the collapse are gonna break us all but HEY! at least for what? Two years, we’ve veen able to enjoy fiction that wasn’t solely written/created by white dudes wondering why no one gets their fucking joke. Am looking at you execs, you don’t know what real people live through, shut the fuck up when it comes to art and characterization.

But why? Why on green god’s earth am I fixating on Haneke that much? First is, when I used to study English a lifetime ago, a classmate o’ mine told me she was a fan of his so I went in, decided to watch the White Ribbon for it had just came out, was bored my fucking ass off, told her, she was disappointed. And well this was my first time approaching some of Haneke’s work.

Sadly, I’m a horror fan, and Haneke once directed Funny Games, I mean he fucking directed this fucking movie fucking TWICE so everyone who wants to pretend they’re fucking smart is acting like that movie fucking matters and it’s allegedly important so I had to watch that, right?

And I do, did. Fuck, I watched ’em both. You feel me.

As a tangent I’d like to say, I’m not a huge fan of A Serbian Film. I dislike A Serbian Film not for the subject matters. I’ve always been a big proponent of “If you wanna say something, say it and be judged from what you’ve produced.” Am not a big fan of censorhsip, self or otherwise. Hence why, if a dude wants to make a movie where the preponderance of pornography in our everyday life is alleged to turn us more violent, am not a fan of the premise but I’ll see your reasoning the way through.

What I dislike in A Serbian Film is the way it’s done. The way the filmmaker presents pornography makes me as a spectator realize he does not know what he’s speaking of. There’s a dissonance between what he wants to talk about and what he is able to talk about. And that mainly happens when one talks about something he doesn’t know.

The porn movies in a Serbian Film shouldn’t be shot in the way they’re shot, if the filmmaker wanted to convey a message, he would have had to study his subject and then reproduce it instead of just showing me the animatronics a newborn and putting gurgling noise on top of a close-up of some guy.

I mean, could you imagine if any of those scenes were shot in the gleeful, colorful neat way of the pron you’re watching everyday? I’m sure that would push some button.

A Serbian Film was someone having an opnion, not really caring about whether he was right or wrong and going ahead because fucking could.

That’s a flaw most of us men are trained towards. Society doesn’t want us to question ourselves since we’re the dominateng forces so we can be wrong and fucking assert whatever the fuck we’ve got be it to females, to BIPOC, to whatever we deem more ignorant than ourselves. And none shall be the wiser, especially us.

This is why, for the longest of time what was considered art were stories of men trying to decipher women. As if women were fucking riddles and not whole humans beings with an history of traumas, lust, errors, trials and achievements.

You witness it in literrature, in movies every fucking where. White men creating art to explain us that woman are unexplainable. And fuck me silly with a drawer if you deem you cannot comprehend women just shut the fuck up when they talking to you, they ain’t no mysterious beast they human. If you just shup the fuck up and listen when people talk you may get out of it learning a thing or two about themselves despites what Burroughs told you.

To me, Funny Games is just that, it’s the discourse of someone who’s never enjoyed horror movie and who suddenly decides to have a fucking point of view on the matter and am like: Wowowowow, ‘fore you talk about something, please know your shit. Otherwise we’ll know.

The reflexion that violence on the screen breeds violence in the street has been an argument for the longest of time, that was never corroborated by numbers. Horror films fans don’t kill more people than regular peeps. Conservatives wants you to believe it but, no, society is less and less violent because violence is nowadays deemed unacceptable and the Saw franchise or the better craftmanship of special effects will change nothing to it.

So, one week ago, I watched Benny’s Video. To be fair I didn’t know Haneke’s life, am not a fan of his, I didn’t like the three movies of his I watched so I never really researched his life. It’s watching Benny’s Video, his second flick nonetheless that made me research a bit. So Haneke was the son of two higher up of the German society, his father was an actor and director and his mom an actress. He worked in television for who knows how long and at fifty years old had the chance to make his first flick and then went on to devise Benny Video, as a second. A movie in which a young bourgeois is obsessed with the video of the killing of a pig so he decides to film a murder.

Haneke said he thought of this because someone did it in real life and he was : Ouh fuck that’s something worth creating about. And, to me, a white man babbled about something he didn’t know firsthand and a bunch of other wihte men were like: Ouh, fuck you’re so right, it’s like those kid in Columbine who liked Doom! and everybody fucking clapped and am tired of this.

I’m tired of this because rich white men talking about rich men has been the center of art for fucking aeons. Haneke denouncing the bourgeoisie as he states with the father trying tocover the murder of his son is still a bourgeois talking about other bourgeois. When I was in highschoool Ihad to study Les Caractères by La Bruyère, a 17th century book and already it was a rich white man criticing other rich white men.

I guess, since they offer a critic I should be lenient because at least they’re not complaining about how much they suffer like Ernesto Sabato, or Zulawski in Possession. But am tired.

Am tired of art being the same thing over and over again. Mysterious women, white man having flaws, the same microcosm shown time and time again.

During my audiovisual studies I had a teacher, who, surprisingly was a Haneke fan, he was also a mysogin and a conservative, everything you’d imagine him to be. He once asserted that there existed only two types of music. The public and the private and that nothing had changed since fucking Chopin.

I raised my hand and asked: The kanaks had a type fo formal chant which serves to introduce one leader to another in which they all declame their whole ancestry. Were would you place those sort of “administrative” music?

He hadn’t an answer, said I was turning a simple matter into a complex one.

But my take is, this didn’t exist to his eyes, because what I talked about wasn’t invented by a rich white man.



Basile Lebret

I write about the history of artmaking, I don’t do reviews.