Zizek on Toilets and Ideology
The speed of the subtitles might make it a bit difficult for some (not going to mention any names…) to keep up with what the Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj Žižek is spewing out here , but his basic point is that the ideologies behind many major western societies can be considered in the way their toilets are constructed. The toilets of the contemplative, philosophical Germans are made in a way that the poo falls on the dry back wall of the toilet and thus becomes an object of observation and contemplation before you flush. The relevance here is clear not only to the incredible German philosophical tradition but the less glorious fact that 20th century Germany has had one incomparably despicable poltical disaster to come to terms with (think World War II, that Hitler guy). Their efforts to face the national guilt over the Holocaust in literary, philosophical, and economical terms has been a defining feature in the reshaping and the salvaging of German identity since then.
Next Žižek talks about the toilets of the French, which are built in such a way that the poo shoots down a little whole in the back and disappears from view. This seamless, quick cycle of (bull) shit might explain the historically revolutionary attitudes of the French. Conversely, the fact that the French never even see their own excrement might explain why the stereotypical frenchman so readily sneers at your filthy American Budweiser and doritos. Casual racism combined with poop jokes, but hey, I didn’t make up the stereotype or give a toilet lecture.
Lastly we come to the toilets of the Americans, which, as many of us here know, suspend the poo (and everything else) in shallow water until you’re ready to flush. All of the waste is present in a big watery mass, which hangs in apathetic stasis. However if it gets too big come flushing time, it often clogs the toilet and impedes the natural order of things, causing a sopping overflow. I’m sure the metaphor is pungent enough, so I won’t go into particulars and let it evolve into a pungent rant.
So the next time you sit down for a poo, make it a reflective poo, and remember to flush. Sorry if I grossed anyone out.