I guess it was only a matter of time before someone began drawing comparisons between South Korean films and Cho Seung Hui, the gunman at Virginia Tech.
After reading the article written by Stephen Hunter, I couldn't help but wonder if he really understood or even saw any of the films he mentions. Although he only marginally condemns "Oldboy" for its graphic content, despite the fact that the movie is about the futility of vengeance, he cuts deep into John Woo, one of my greatest influences. Yes, his films are violent. Yes, they feature people with two guns. But, above all, they are films about brotherhood, something Cho Seung Hui didn't understand. I find it hard to condemn a film when it was clearly misinterpreted, regardless of the influence it may or may not have had on Cho.
For one, most of Hunters arguments are flawed. Cho used two guns. So do people in Woo's films, which he carried over from his love of Westerns such as "The Wild Bunch" which so clearly influenced his cinematic style. Should we be blaming Sam Peckinpah for the events that unfolded last week? Hunter references the shoot-out at the beginning of "The Killer", claiming the events in Virgina probably unfolded in a similar fashion, offering no reference, just a wild claim. Cho walked into a room and shot some people. Chow Yun-Fat walked into a room and shot some people in a John Woo movie. Therefore, Cho obviously was influenced by this movie. Brilliant deduction Mr. Hunter. I can understand why someone like you gets paid to write lopsided articles that contain no facts, just completely fabricated arguments.
I don't think John Woo is the problem here. The man doesn't condone violence. Do I think violence in the media affected Cho. Yes. But does violence in the media affect anyone with a vast amount of mental issues? Yes. The problem is, Cho, someone who had been a known stalker, who had serious psychological issues, was able to buy guns. If he was never able to buy the guns, this wouldn't have happened. Plain and simple. Once again, the media becomes a scapegoat because parents don't want to sit down with their kids each night and take the time to monitor what they view and explain to them what is right and what is wrong.
I remember the first time I saw the JFK assassination on TV, and myself and my brother watched as his brains were blasted out the back of his head. We jumped up and down, jubilant about what we were watching. We were screaming. "Look at his brains, that's awesome!" My dad came charging down the stairs and ripped into us. He yelled at us and told us that it wasn't funny. It wasn't something to laugh it. It was horrific. It was sad. And that is what a parent should do.
We are a social species. We need human contact. Cho didn't know how to interact with the world around him. His family in Korea thought he was autistic because he rarely talked. When you spend your life in front of a computer screen or a TV, it doesn't matter what you watch. You could watch reruns of "Golden Girls" and it's still going to fuck you up. We need human interaction. Which brings us back to "Oldboy", a movie about a man locked up for 15 years (not 20 as Hunter stated), who has no human contact, only a TV. And when he finally escapes and goes on his barbaric rampage of vengeance, he doesn't know how to interact with the world around him. So if anything, "Oldboy" was not an influence on the events at Virginia Tech, but a warning.