Ktismatics

9 April 2008

The Host by Bong, 2006

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 8:16 am

The Host is the highest-grossing film ever in South Korea. From this limited bit of evidence I infer that, while popular tastes may differ between Korea and the USA, they’re variants of a universal category called “bad taste.”

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12 Comments »

  1. *Awaits Dejan*

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    Comment by Seyfried — 10 April 2008 @ 2:08 pm

  2. That’s right: I queued this one up on Netflix at Dejan’s suggestion. Have you seen this movie, Seyfried? I guess it’s supposed to be good because it does something new with the old monster movie genre. The main new thing is that instead of the military taking the monster down it’s one disfunctional family operating around the edges of and in spite of the military. But in some ways that just turns it into a family variant on Sigourney Weaver kicking the Alien’s ass. The monster is pretty cool, spawned in a river polluted by American mandate — which isn’t much different from Godzilla arising from Hiroshima’s dust back in the day. I dunno — I must be missing something.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 10 April 2008 @ 2:19 pm

  3. just turns it into a family variant on Sigourney Weaver kicking the Alien’s ass.

    the difference is that while the alien in aliens confirms Weaver’s wimman power and hence also the Phallus of the US Marine (via political correctness), the monster in The Host is just as hungry for love as the family that dispenses with him, and they are also complicit in his creation due to their failure to protect their wives and daughters. Behind the hunger of course is capitalism, which leaves us starved. I found it an excellent movie and I don’t understand why youre being cynical, Clysmatics. I also don’t understand how Jonquille wasn’t lured here by the discussion of Techine. Sometimes his insolence is just incomprehensible.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 10 April 2008 @ 10:19 pm

  4. Hungry for love? You mean that’s why the monster keeps that secret horde of extra humans, including the young daughter of the story’s hero and the little homeless boy? I thought it was his pantry, and he was keeping a little fresh meat around for when he wanted a little snack.

    In this story the American military and its S. Korean stooges were the cause of the Host’s mutation through toxic dumping, but when they wanted to kill him off with more toxins the multitude revolted, holding protests at the riverside, in effect protecting the Host as well as themselves. The Host then becomes representative of the Korean people, mutated into an unnatural monster by military occupation. Victory is achieved not by cooperation but by rebellion, by guerrilla tactics and infiltration of the militarized zone. The one brother arms himself with Molotov cocktails, the sister with a bow and arrow — it’s a populist insurgency. What has to be eliminated isn’t just the Americans, but also the mutant body of the country itself, which the Americans really want to isolate, quarantine, eventually eliminate. Now that I listen to my own rhetoric the movie starts sounding better.

    PC, you sometimes remind me of a certain kind of person one encounters at parties or conferences. All the while you’re talking to them their eyes are scanning the room looking for someone else more important/entertaining/attractive — more desirable — they’d rather be talking to. In this case I can’t say I blame you though.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2008 @ 4:50 am

  5. The US military and Centers for Disease Control start quarantining the people, saying that they’re infected with an infectious virus that’s been transmitted through contact with the Host. After awhile the chief American scientist acknowledges that there is no virus — the people are perfectly healthy. But this doesn’t hinder the massive quarantine and establishment of the militarized zone to “protect” against further infection. The army sprays down the area with Agent Yellow. This of course refers to the defoliant Agent Orange that the US military sprayed all over Vietnam presumably to make the enemy more visible while meanwhile poisoning the people and the land itself. But “Yellow” — in this case the plague is the “yellow” people themselves, the Koreans, which the whites would like to delimit, isolate, eventually exterminate.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 11 April 2008 @ 5:27 am

  6. Hungry for love? You mean that’s why the monster keeps that secret horde of extra humans, including the young daughter of the story’s hero and the little homeless boy? I thought it was his pantry, and he was keeping a little fresh meat around for when he wanted a little snack. – That’s the clysmatising part, the plot, the facts, the cognition; but the monster is just as nerdy and confused (he keeps falling, slipping, he does not notice the presence of others in the room) as the protagonists and his enormous mouth clearly indicates an oral desire (for love and nurturing). Note also that characters, typically for a Southern culture, obtain love through eating. It is the chief bonding ritual in the family.

    In this case I can’t say I blame you though. – fancy way to describe your postpenal depression but I don’t recognize myself in it because I read your blawg even at work, paying undue notice to even irrelevant stuff like Erdman’s persistent misreading of Lacan whereby he uses the notion of ”self” as it was done in the 19th century, and insolently refuses to comment on my comments

    But “Yellow” — in this case the plague is the “yellow” people themselves, the Koreans, which the whites would like to delimit, isolate, eventually exterminate.

    Yes I noticed that myself, but the direct satire is less interesting than the way the very composition satirizes the American monster genre; there are no heroes, no happy endings, no bravery, only falluble humanity with its endless gullibility and sloppiness. The tempo is protracted, almost deliberately, tho I think more because the Korean culture is slower.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 11 April 2008 @ 1:03 pm

  7. The Host’s ugliness and clumsiness does make him sort of lovable, and he does show elegant grace of movement in his gymnastic traversals underneath the bridge. But I think his orality is mostly good-old-fashioned hunger. When the humans first see him lurking beneath the surface of the water they start throwing food to him — a gesture of oral love I suppose. But it’s not enough for the Host: he climbs out of the water and starts eating the people who were feeding him. I suppose you could call this an insatiable desire for love on his part, but it looks more like the usual boundless monster appetite for human flesh to me. I think we’re better off with a political interpretation: the mutant monster of the South Korean nation, spawned by American military occupation, continually devours the Korean people. So maybe you could say this: the bonds of love as exemplified by eating together have been distorted by this mutant nation that devours the very ones who through bonds of shared culture would feed it.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2008 @ 6:15 am

  8. suppose you could call this an insatiable desire for love on his part, but it looks more like the usual boundless monster appetite for human flesh to me.

    No! Who does the monster eat twice? The little girl, who is neglected by the dorky family. And this is related to the absence of nurturing, the mother figure. Furthermore the mouth is like a womb, clearly relating love to feeding.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 12 April 2008 @ 8:04 am

  9. Well that is a good observation about eating the little girl twice, PC, though I must confess I find it difficult to identify maternal characteristics in the Host — or Hostess. Could we retain the maternal imagery relative to a grotesquely mutated Motherland that confuses nurturance with ingestion?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2008 @ 9:53 am

  10. I mean Clysmatics I know you’d like me to clysmatise some kind of a cognitive interpretation out of this, skipping psychoanalysis, but I’m afraid it’s never gonna work for me like that.

    I am still a bit stunned by Erdman’s last few comments about ”the self”, where after one year and a half of many hours invested in explaining Lacan for him he continues to use the notion of the ”self” from the 19th century.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 12 April 2008 @ 9:56 am

  11. Okay, we’ll agree that The Host is a multivalent masterpiece, supporting as many mutated interpretations as it has legs.

    Erdman is an evangelical, committed to defending the Apostle Paul to the letter. It’s hard to see the text stripped of interpretive frameworks that have piled up around it over the centuries. I think Erdman’s psychological excavations often take lower priority than other theological concerns, adversely affecting his progress. By the way, I wasn’t boycotting your theological discussion on the Parody Center. As I said, I’m not very familiar with Eastern Orthodox rites, and you were trying in particular to get a couple of the old commenters back in play. This was successful, bringing SLP at least out of retirement. No sign of the eternal theology students though. I’m not sure, but I think Anthony’s mentor in grad school is a leading light in the “radical orthodoxy” movement.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 April 2008 @ 10:09 am

  12. […] Official film poster, and film stills from ktismatics and Wikipedia and […]

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    Pingback by Film Review: The Host | Chincha!? — 29 September 2011 @ 10:41 pm


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