chapter  8
14 Pages

Techno-Human Infancy in Gore Verbinski’s The Ring

ByKimberly Jackson

Gore Verbinski’s 2002 film The Ring (adapted from Hideo Nakata’s 1998 film Ringu) would most appropriately be classed among those films, termed “tech-noir,” that play on cultural anxieties by presenting apocalyptic visions of the humantechnological relation. The Ring outdoes its classmates, however, by effectively turning the medium of transmission itself against the unfortunate viewer. As he or she leaves the theater or switches off the DVD, the viewer has the sense of having been somehow infected by the film, just as the characters in it are infected by the videotape.1 Since the viewing audience has also seen the images on the tape, and since we experience the film through the very medium whose violence is being narrated (the violence of image production and repetition), to a certain extent we are left wondering if we will get the phone call telling us that we only have “seven days” before Samara will wreak her vengeance on us. As does any film of this genre, moreover, The Ring relies on an audience primed for such reception, one whose guard is down against this foe and who thus lacks immunity against its viral transmission. The contemporary audience of The Ring makes easy prey because the “disease” manifests itself in the form of a human child, on the one hand, and a common videotape on the other-both “human” (re-)productions registering no alien qualities, alerting no initial immune response, familiar and familial, until their virulent activation.