Thursday, April 19, 2007

Movie Badness and Cho Seung-Hui's Madness

Cho Seung-Hui rockets onto the 'big screen' - his way.

"I'm setting the example, and it's going to be puzzled over and studied and followed, from now on." Kevin Spacey as John Doe in the movie SEVEN, New Line Cinema, 1995.

Writers of cinema murder mysteries toil like engine room stokers feeding the engines of Hollywood studios. They weave fabulously intricate yet reasonably plausible stories, festooned with clever plot devices, meaningful symbolism and of course, diabolical killers with deep background. Most of that exposition flies right over the brows of today's predominantly youthful movie audiences. Someone who understood that fact was 23 year old monster Cho Seung-Hui, the beast of Virginia Tech. Cho clearly wrote his own splatter film screenplay in his head and kept it simple enough for everyone to follow. His own agent and his own publicist, Cho gave the media a press kit (through NBC) that some are calling his "Multi-media Manifesto", a DVD replete with video clips, a still gallery, and art work. In other words it was carefully tailored for instant dissemination by all media on the planet.

Tony Burman, Editor in Chief of CBC News asked a question yesterday on his CBC webpage: "So what will be the iconic image that will forever recall the massacre at Virginia Tech? Will it be the grandfatherly face of Holocaust survivor Liviu Librescu? Or the glowing smile of Canadian Jocelyne Couture-Nowak?" Hardly. I replied in part with: "The answer to your question is that all of those faces, some even more appealing than the two you chose to distinguish, will be forgotten within a few weeks." That's undeniably true. The ONLY face we will remember is that of Cho.

His version of the Chow Yun Fat two-gun power pose.

The image most referenced by the world press was Cho's two-gun pose modeled after the Chow Yun Fat figure in A BETTER TOMORROW 1&2, and now much imitated. Today plenty was been made of the fact that Cho emulated iconic scenes from the the 2003 Korean film OLDBOY, and that is undeniably true. The plot of OLDBOY, a hyper-violent vengeance movie, was championed by Quenton Tarantino at Cannes, and is well thought of. Unquestionably it fed the sick fantasies of a reclusive paranoid like Cho, who was determined to set a new record for a mass killing, and to trigger a Wiki page that would last for a decade.

Two years ago security police at the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg removed Cho briefly from their campus and had him examined by an expert at a nearby mental health facility. He was diagnosed as mentally deranged and clearly suicidal. Still he had committed no crime that anyone knew of, and in deference to his rights he was released after a 48 hour stay. It's instructive to examine his signature "Seung Cho" on the legal form he signed at the time of his release. In addition to the severe rythmical disorganization, notice the left to right slash stroke before both the date line and the signature line. This guy was angry at being confined and it is not a stretch to suggest that he began to fantasize a massacre even before they released him.

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