Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oldboy and a Young Killer

Wow. The New York Times (and others, doubtlessly) is linking Cho Seung-hui's murder spree in Virginia to the Park Chan-wook film OLDBOY. Read about it here (while you still can, anyhow). The pics in question:

Hrm. The photo is not displaying properly here, for some reason. Anyhow here is the OLDBOY picture we are talking about:

[... Okay, so I cannot post pictures at all right now? Is something broken over at Blogger HQ? I have no idea. Will try to fix later. In the meantime, use the links.]

What does it all mean? Sadly, I doubt it means much of anything. Mentally ill people are capable of latching onto just about anything. The Beatles' "Helter Skelter" was, after all, "inspiration" to Charles Manson. OLDBOY was a gripping, violent film, but it certainly was not a cause of anything. Nevertheless, it is a disturbing image, in a story full of disturbing images.


Suffern AC said...

Does not mean that much.

Right now the press is grasping around anything to explain what might have triggered the event. As we have known since Helter-Skelter "caused" the Mason Family's rampage, and Taxi Driver "caused" Hinckley to shoot Reagan, obsessions with popular culture is an accepted subject to look for as a symptom of or cause of mental instability.

At this point after Columbine, it was Marilyn Mason and "Goth Culture", which were pinned as source causes, and which, as it turned out were not related to the event. (As we know now, it was the video game, Doom, and "Natural Born Killers" that were the root cause;-)) By the end of the first week of the event it was also "reported" (by which I mean, unsubstantiated rumors were spread through the media) that the killers focused their rage on Christian students, were friendless loners, and were probably gay.

Many people still believe these "facts" today. But the facts were reported without substantiation, because the killers were dead and could not reveal their motives, and there were hours of air time to be filled because investigations are slow.

By the time the facts came out, many people felt that they already had all of the facts they needed, had constructed a narrative of what happened, and had moved on.

Yesterday morning, Diane Sawyer reported that Cho Seung-Hui's favorite song was "Shine" by Collective Soul and that he listened to it often. I would be very hard pressed to determine exactly which lyrics should concern us: the catchy guitar hook or its general optimism. Dolly Parton covered the song, too. It is a cry for help, but a very optimistic song, indeed.

Last night, when I saw the report on "Oldboy" and the image of Mr. Cho with his hammer, I thought "Oh, there is a movie now too." And a movie that I like. One of the 43 pictures is referenced to the movie, it is a Korean movie, it is a violent tale of revenge, so it must be THE movie. Even though we don't know if he watched it...or if the reference is even the right reference.

(Don't you need a hammer to crucify?- If he was obsessed with the movie, wouldn't he know to hold the hammer with the claw facing the victim? Aren't there other movies where hammers are used? Something by Miike, perhaps? or Wes Craven?)

I apologize for the long response, but I am concerned that Oldboy is being going to be bandied about as THE movie and carried about in heads as a sinister film that leads boys to perdition. I doubt the folks at Nightline actually sat down and watched the movie before they reported the similarity of the images.

Oldboy is a tragic tale of revenge, rage, and suicide and is a very violent and dark film. It is about the revenge of two men, one who was imprisoned for 15 years as punishment for a "crime" he does not even know he committed, while the other is the demented "victim" of that "crime." Despite its violence, it is a very moral film about the tragic consequences of obsessions over revenge. It is NOT about a man fantasizing about or massacring innocent random people as a way to gain attention, bring attention to social hypocrisy, or whatever the manifesto reveals as a "motive"...If Oldboy is THE movie, then Mr. Cho missed the point.

I think I will wait for the final report to come out before speculating on what "triggered" Mr. Cho.

But it is difficult not to speculate and does pass the time until then. Did you know that there is also a hammer in "Save the Green Planet" and that is a very violent movie about revenge and madness from Korea. The parallels are uncanny. Maybe that is THE movie:-;

Anonymous said...

I saw "oldboy" and I was not impressed. The guy was imprisoned for 15 years because supposedly he started a rumor about a guy and his sister's incest love. Sorry, I spoiled the reasoning for "oldboy". It was a terrible film and I nearly fell asleep though it. Too much pointless violence, incest father and daughter love, not the movie for everyone.

You can't really link a film and an act of violence. Honestly, the emotional state of the individual is the true indicator and the real reason for his actions. He was emotionally abused by his peers, possibly he is hormonally imbalanced (serotonin not linking up with his receptor sites?, parental bent getting to him, there are endless reasons.