Ringu, The Story of a Viral Video

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, we were asked to watch Hideo Nakata’s Ringu – a narrative about a killer video. The film is about a family that possesses supernatural abilities, in particularly a young daughter of the film that has the ability to kill a person at will – psychically. After she displayed her “freak” powers, her father takes her away and as we find out later attempts to murder her and pushes her into a well where her body remains till the present day of the movie. Now she has her revenge through a video, once watched, will kill you in one week exactly.

Originally started as a rumor, the main character, Reiko Asawaka, investigates the origins of the gossip. Then in series of unfortunate events, the viral video hits close to home when it claims the life of a family member. Similar to Ghostmap, where Henry Whitehead and John Snow traveled Soho for the source of death, Reiko travels through Izu for the same reasons.

Reiko is exposed to the video. Frightened, she uses all the resources at her disposal to find a way to lift the curse. In her journey, she brings in her ex-husband who she makes a copy of the video and exposes him to it, spreading the curse. The next six days is spent finding the history of the video and ways to lift the curse. Through a series of revelations and discoveries, they find the burial ground of the poor daughter. They finally thought that they had successfully lifted the curse, however in the end their attempts were in vain. Similar to the case in Outbreak where they believed incinerating the small village would rid them of the deadly virus, but it resurfaced 30 years later.

The film ends leaving the viewers to believe that the only way to avoid dying is to continuously share the video. In essence, to avoid death, you must pass the death stick to another and repeat. This provides an interesting concept regarding viral media, especially in today’s Facebook applications. Games that require the recruitment of others in order to survive in the games, like Farmville, Sims Social, and Cityville. Would you cast a curse upon someone else if it meant you would live? What about exposing someone to an addictive medium that would be bad for their well being, but beneficial to you? This is introducing the idea of a “forced” viral spread.

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