Simon Strong b. 1962
The The Naked Lunch and the Naked The Naked Lunch (2008)
b/w, 2008, 62mins

The Second Most Annoying Film Ever Made... Simon Strong talks about his film The The Naked Lunch and the Naked The Naked Lunch.

29 November 2011

Mr Strong... let’s begin with a classic interview question: is there anything about your oeuvre that you regret?

Well yes. Although I'm very happy with the stylistic and entertainment quality of my oeuvre, I cannot help but feel strongly that any value is offset by a fundamental flaw. My works are characterized by an overcurrent of nihilism and moral ambiguity that I personally find grossly offensive. I conceive myself as kindred with positive humanist writers such as Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut or Douglas Adams for example, but my audience seems to consider me the Marquis De Sade 2.0 or the North English William Burroughs. This appraisal is entirely understandable given the actual content of the works in question.

This then prompts the question: why not produce stuff that you like?

I do like a lot of my own stuff… and I like it a lot… I just wish it had someone else’s name on the cover. As far as I’m concerned, I am my target audience. Since I produce stuff primarily for my own consumption I try to emphasise novelty by introducing randomized, automated or spontaneous elements in order to render it more accessible to me. It is usually these elements that I find most problematic.

So it’s not self-loathing?

(laughter) no… no… the very thought of it! (snort) I think it’s more likely to do with objectivity and sharply honed critical faculties.

Your film of ‘The Naked Lunch’ has caused some online controversy, even despite the fact that only the trailer has been released.

I do hate to be pedantic, but that isn’t a question by any stretch of the imagination. It doesn’t even have a thingy at the end.

A question mark?

That’s the ticket!

How about "Do you have anything to say about the controversy around your film of 'The Naked Lunch'"?

Yes. That’s better.



Do you have anything to say about the controversy around your film of ‘The Naked Lunch’

Well… yes. Firstly, it is very misleading to call it a film of ‘The Naked Lunch’.

But it is!

And that is precisely why it is misleading… for the same reasons that our world is so pervaded by deceit and dishonesty. The film actually goes to great lengths to avoid including, or even referring to, any content from the novel at all… although the title, and more specifically the definite article of the title, does warrant some discussion therein.

Was this a response to Cronenberg’s selective appropriation of the text?

Yes it was. I figured that if Cronenberg could omit all the significant episodes of the novel [from his film], I should respond by omitting everything. The only thing I did leave in was a reference to the most glaring, and yet most apparently insignificant, omission.

Why do you hate Cronenberg so much? Are there not more worthy targets for scorn?

I absolutely do not hate David Cronenberg. I want be very clear on this. As I implied in my first response, I‘m not very disposed to hatred at all. In so-called reality, I have a great deal of respect for the chap. I’d even go as far as to say that some of his films look as if they could be quite interesting in some ways. I am simply disinclined to watch them. I have only seen Naked Lunch and Crash — and they was on at the pictures so I’d already paid my money and didn’t want to walk out halfway. I also saw Dead Ringers on tv but that was full of adverts and hard to judge. I watched it by accident, I thought it was the BBC comedy show with that Tom Baker impersonator. Fuckin hilarious! (laughs)

In your film, you sound like you have a big problem with him…

As I was saying earlier, if it doesn’t have a thingy at the end, it isn’t a question.

Fuck sake!

My point exactly…

Why then, in your film, does it sound like you have such a big problem with him?

Ahhhhhhhh…. Because it was fucking funnier like that? That’s all. It’s sort of… put on... because… it’s like… a film. I think they call it acting or something.

So what was your motivation?

Well… Cronenberg’s film was intended to be confronting only in a very conventional way. I set out to be confronting in unconventional ways: the patronizing tone of the narration; the long silences; insulting the audience; the introduction of deliberate errors…

Such as the reference to Julian Temple?

Indeed… everyone knows that Russell Mulcahy made that clip for Duran Duran, or that a text’s single (intrinsic) dimension is spatial rather than a temporal. I did that to make it obvious that I was trying to look stupid… in opposition to Cronenberg’s desperate attempts to look clever.

Elsewhere, you cited Ballard as an influence on AMBO… so what did you think of Crash? Can we uh “look forward” to a Strong version of that?

I didn’t think anything about Cronenberg’s Crash at all, except for my mate’s comment when we came out of the cinema was funny. He said “That was disappointing… I was expecting it to be hardcore.” Yikes! I should choose my friends more carfully... I mean carefully. I was overseas when it hit the UK so I missed all the fuss.

Is there anything about Cronenberg that you find of value?

His strong continental lager is fucking fantastic! 1664! Alright! Blimey! (etc)

Is there any truth to the rumour that you have a book on Burroughs in the pipeline?

No... that’s just the cut of my trousers. I mean… yes. No. Many years ago I commenced a book to be entitled “Even the old dude is cool”. It was to be about Burroughs musical and film career. I lost interest after Burroughs’ oeuvre was entirely recuperated by the Babylon shitstem.

So what’s next?

I dunno. I’d like to make a film of J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time. I reckon it would be piss easy and dead funny… and maybe even both…

Simon… thank you…

Thank you?

More info at

Simon Strong on UbuWeb Sound