I think it’s important to break out of a ‘cultural rut’ because there is so much more out there to explore and experience. Broadening your perspective is very beneficial and provides a vast amount of knowledge—even if it is just forms of media. One of the speakers in the podcast pointed this out when he was talking about reading manga. Through manga, he was able to learn more about the culture and the societal attitudes towards certain topics of and in Japan. Art is so diverse and immersing yourself in such a dynamic field can widen your appreciation, knowledge, curiosity, interest, etc. in the world’s, or even country’s, many different cultures. I can say that I’m in some kind of rut right now because I have a strong displeasure towards country music and rock/heavy metal/screamo etc. The podcast did talk about trying new things outside of your comfort zone and then giving your final say so I guess I’m not too wrong since I did try. I admit some country songs have catchy tunes and/or lyrics but there’s just not enough to appeal to me.
I am Korean American so I grew up watching both American and Korean TV so watching the The Wailing (2016, Na) wasn’t that much of a stretch for me in the sense of country of origin but the genre was certainly way out of my comfort zone. It was such a big hit in Korea and there was so much talk about it that whatever TV show was on, I would hear a reference to the film (which I only understood after I watched it myself) so I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about. Unfortunately, I’m the type of person who gets so easily scared I jump at sudden bursts of action in comedies even. I actually watched this over the summer during the day when there was a lot of sunlight, with my mom and one of my younger sisters and a blanket over me but I still almost peed my pants. I had go through a deep-breathing, self-calming exercise before pressing play.
The Wailing is about “suspicion lead[ing] to hysteria when rural villagers link a series of brutal murders to the arrival of a mysterious stranger.” There are mysterious beings, ghosts, shamans, gore, zombies, jump scares, exorcism and way more that I can’t handle in this 100%-from-Rotten-Tomatoes film but the narrative and the way it was shot was so interesting. I still don’t understand the film entirely but I refuse to watch it again to clear up the confusion. Throughout the entire film, I was hiding at least half of my face behind my blanket and screaming my head off when the stranger’s bloodied face decided to suddenly pop up on the screen. I felt scared, I felt sweaty, I felt like the bad characters were watching me through the window behind me but despite all of these, I actually really enjoyed the movie. The story was compelling and mysterious in its own crazy, eerie ways, plunging audiences in and out of a nightmare-like reality and vice versa. Even the lines/script had their own form of eeriness. Pure horror movies, I would never watch but something like this, The Wailing, that makes me think and has a mind-boggling story along with the terror, I would maybe watch again. I’m beginning to understand why people pay to get scared like this. The sheer horror only lasts for a fleeting moment before you’re kept on your toes again, biting your nails while imaging the next worst thing that can happen. The film tended to ease in and out of the intensity of the presentation of horror which only added to the tense atmosphere of the film. There seemed to be no specific target audience or restriction (though it may not be suitable for younger children) as it was able to appeal to all ages and both genders, hailed as ‘epic’ by critics, which in my unbiased opinion, I believe it deserves. (Now let me go get rid of these goosebumps.)
Raymond Williams states that “it is with the discovery of patterns of a characteristic kind that any useful cultural analysis begins,” (1961). To compare or analyze any form of media, there must be something to compare and contrast to. Even within one genre, there are many different ways a film, book or music can go. I was always tricked into watching horror movies and had my judgmental thoughts about all horror being the same but The Wailing showed me a new side to horror, one that can make you scream and think at the same time. I feel like this should be applied to all genres and platforms. I know many people don’t like pop music because it “all sounds the same” but each song has its own individual color that differs from the rest of its genre-mates. The same goes for books too. Even the most cliché storylines have their own twists. It’s so fascinating to see how many possibilities there are to make the final product unique, whether it be a classic horror movie, mainstream music, romance novels or repetitive shows. You have to discover patterns and then pick out the little differences to fully understand the art.
Ehrlich, D. (2016, May 23). Cannes Review: ‘The Wailing’ Is An Epic Korean Horror Movie Too Crazy For Its Own Good. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from http://www.indiewire.com/2016/05/cannes-review-the-wailing-is-an-epic-korean-horror-movie-too-crazy-for-its-own-good-288923/
Williams, R. (1961). The Long Revolution. London: Chatto & Windus.