This past week, I found an essay online by Jessica Balanzategui, a screen studies PHD student at the University of Melbourne, titled ‘Everything in this World is Artificial: Media Contagion, Theme Parks and the Ring Franchise’. Being an exceptionally long essay she touches on many themes in relation to the Ring, but in part the essay looks at the cultural significance of ‘The Ring’ franchise as a spectacle, and the importance of the character ‘Sadako’ in perpetuating the popularity of the franchise, just as she perpetuates her ‘curse’ in the films (Blanzategui, 2014).
Reading through this essay I realised that while focusing on Hideo Nakata, the director of the first and second Ring films and his influences, I had missed the real celebrity of the ring, the character of Sadako.
So far through this process my brain has been focused on the authors of media and their influences into how they construct and shape their work, rather than the influences the content of media may have on the culture.
Coming a better understanding of the character of Sadako (Samara in the US version) and why she is so popular, would give a greater insight into Japanese popular culture than just the reasons and influences of her character.
In my glossing over of Sadako, I also didn’t look into the writer of original book, Koji Suzuki, and his influences while writing ‘Ring’.
Suzuki was writing Ring in 1989, during this time he was looking after his two daughters while his wife worked as a teacher of Japanese history. In a 2003 interview with the website ‘japanreview.net’ Suzuki explained the main the theme of his novel
“And so the theme of the Ring is really about the love I have for my daughters. In my book, it’s not a heroine, but a hero: Asakawa Kazuyuki. He is a father. He has a daughter and he has a wife. And like many men, his greatest fear in life is losing his wife or daughter.
Me too. For me the biggest fear is to lose my daughtersor wife. So in my novel, Asakawa, the protagonist, fought for the life of his wife and daughter.”
Interestingly Suzuki’s focus when speaking about his novel is love and the importance of being a father, not necessarily the character of Sadako or her technologically driven method of killing. If it was not the authors original intent to create such a celebrity, what aspects of Sadako’s character make her so important in popular culture? What does the audience see in the character that demands such attention?
And I did it again, spent ages researching and reading about the author… Maybe I’ll look at Sadako in a separate blog.