High Anxiety: Film, Music, Games and Art for the Paranoid | Culture

Film

The world may be celebrating The Godfather’s 50th birthday right now, but for paranoia aficionados, Francis Ford Coppola’s greatest half-centenarian is still two years away. The conversation came between the first two episodes of his mafia opera trilogy, but his mood is incredibly different. Starring an extraordinary Gene Hackman as a surveillance expert who focuses on a snippet of dialogue he recorded, it culminates with Hackman ripping through his apartment like he’s tearing his skin, all because of the change. tectonics of direction which can come from a tiny change of inflection. A solitary, desperate and guilt-ridden masterpiece. Jessica Kiang


Art

Zone of dread… Salvador Dalí. Photography: Paul Almasy/Corbis/VCG/Getty

Non-conformist surrealist Salvador Dalí claimed to find his images fantastical by projecting his “paranoia” onto the world, seeing strange connections and double images all around him. This paranoid perspective rushes towards you in Suburbs of a Paranoiac Critical Town, his 1936 painting of a strange town collapsing in delirium. An equine statue, an empty armchair, mourning figures, a deserted temple and a poor street are all set against a barren plain of empty terror. The disconnected images are part of his paranoia, tied together in an illogical narrative of fear. Yet her concern was justified, since she was painted in a Europe that was rushing towards catastrophe. Dalí’s paranoia is a disturbing prophecy. jonathan jones


Video games

Among us.
Lost in space… Among us. Photography: InnerSloth

On a space station, a team of cartoon astronauts go about their business. Except one of them is an impostor, and before long the teammates start dying. A group meeting is called, and everyone has better hope that the fault is not theirs: the accused are ejected into the void; and in space, no one can hear you scream. Is it any wonder that a multiplayer game as spectacularly paranoid as Among Us has taken off during the pandemic when, starving for social interaction, we’ve found this mafia-inspired adventure to be the perfect arena for socially suspicious distant? Keza MacDonald


Music

TYREE - I'm afraid of the night - single - 1987

What woman hasn’t feared an imaginary (or real) danger following them late at night? As such, it’s striking to consider what prompted Chicago house DJ Tyree to create 1986’s paranoia anthem I Fear the Night, articulating the terror that strikes as you walk around on dark evenings. Though the lyrics are macabre (“Help me, please / It’s out to get me,” sings the singer known as Chic), its effervescent production makes the impending doom sound deceptively fun; there’s something about the beat that makes nightfall less ominous and more exciting. Christine Ochefu


Comedy

The interior of Bo Burnham.
Isolation rules! … Bo Burnham’s interior.

You feel the walls closing in. You think everyone is watching you. Everyone is watching you! You are afraid to leave the house. You are not allowed to leave the house! Sounds like a hoot, right? It would be in the hands of no one but Bo Burnham, the teenage YouTube star turned big-brained, broken-souled purveyor of music and comedy. In 2021, Burnham distilled Covid-era, internet-bound modernity into one of the greatest Netflix specials of all time: Inside. In its claustrophobia, its unbalanced isolation, its fear that we’re all forever chained to the spinning content-generating wheel, Inside is as paranoid as it gets – or would be if it weren’t all so true. Brian Logan

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