After watching Ringu and reading a synopsis to better understand the story, I was easily reminded of “cursed” chain letters and emails that used to go around. If the reader didn’t “pass on” the letter or email, they were supposedly cursed to an early death. The viral nature of Ringu’s film and the retro chain letters thrive on fear tactics, collective anxiety, and the human penchant towards insufferable curiosity. The “curse” of Sadako serves as a virus in itself. It’s kind of interesting that she climbed out of a well in the end in order to kill one of the main characters, recalling the cholera infected wells mentioned in Steven Johnson’s The Ghost Map.
The curse also has many vectors in the school children that spread it around their region, and is mediated by video cassettes, televisions, and telephones. Of course, the creator of the video and visual artist, Kurt Schwitters, might have something in common when considering Schwitter’s definition of assemblage. The disturbing and confusing scenes in the cursed video seemed disjointed and unrelated, but Schwitters would have us believe that “they set in play a process of mutual stimulation that exceeds what they are as a set”. The video made another world possible, and let the viewers see into the life of Sadako. Unlike most viral structures, however, the curse of Sadako’s video must be replicated and transmitted in order for both the viral curse and the viewer of the video to survive. In effect, the community is being inoculated in a manner that will become exponential.
On that note, I feel something was lost in translation after watching the original Ringu. The synopsis for the remake seems to describe Sadako’s life in greater detail, a story that was vague in the original film. Knowing very little about Sadako’s life did lend a lot to the imagination of the viewer, however, and mimicked the type of fear incited by an unknown virus.