Ah, social media. The ever growing online behemoth that allows the people of the world to stay in touch with one another. A conglomerate of fact, fiction, opinion and every asinine thought that drifts through the minds of countless individuals. But the world takes to it with gusto, because humans are by nature social creatures, ones who band together when beneficial. But what happens when the collective focuses their efforts? What happens when suppositions clash? What happens when the truth is lost in the noise?
Welcome to the present, a world where Twitter is a near inescapable facet of life. Even if you opt to not take part in it, you will inevitably hear about it from others. Even television pushes the social media app, utilising it in order to boost audience involvement. This is all well and good for fiction, but the news is another story. When millions of people all weigh in on something they have only a passing knowledge of, accusations fly and facts are lost in a storm of words. Thus we begin our story. When a woman is found murdered in the woods, another regulation police investigation begins. Or so it seems. When a co-worker of the victim reaches out to her friend Yuji Akahoshi for comfort, the social media addict begins mindlessly Tweeting the information relayed to him. When his updates begin to discuss facts yet to be made public about the prime suspect, Akahoshi puts all of his news temp skills into action and decides to solve the case himself and, more importantly, report on it first.
Seeing as social media is the linchpin of this film, the visuals never cease to remind you of the ever present Twitter. During certain moments of the film, generally when a new break in the case is discovered, the an ever growing conversation pops up and overlays the scene. So, just as with the app itself, you cannot ignore the opinions of the masses. On the topic of textual overlays, the film is also rather fond of placing titles next to those that Akahoshi interviews. Though not necessarily necessary, seeing as it is quite apparent who is speaking, it adds to the overall investigative nature of Akahoshi’s interviews. It also serves as a prime example of the omission of context that occurs when stories are put on the air, which is another topic entirely…
So let’s talk about it. As the audience of the film, we are given the privilege of seeing each interview in full, along with representations of how the interviewees ideas would’ve played out. The audience within the film does not receive the same luxury, rather they are treated to an edited account of the events purposely designed to evoke a certain reaction. Fear, suspicion, disbelief, powerful emotions that continue to sway the populace in this social media manhunt for the suspect. Even if you decide to take a more lenient approach to the TV media and give them the benefit of the doubt, Akahoshi’s misplaced enthusiasm is still detrimental to his endeavours. Though, as a guy who immediately Tweets classified information, did you really expect anything else?
Going back to the scene of the crime for a moment, the various representations presented to us serve to further the confusion that arises from multiple, less than reliable accounts, along with how they can alter peoples views entirely. I do not speak only of the characters here, but the we as the audience are involved in this meta trickery. Take the opening sequence for example, the beautiful victim lies perfectly on the ground, clad in white, save for the slowly spreading bloodstains on her body. Oddly serene in its brutality, the crime seems almost fake. Now compare this with the reality that is eventually revealed, the victim stumbles through water and mud, hunching over in fear. This presents a far more raw, brutal moment that lacks the pristine nature of our first glance of Noriko’s body. In addition to showing us how the truth is not always immediately apparent, it also represents the new view of the victim that we come to develop over the course of the film. At its start, the characters have a rather “don’t speak ill of the dead” attitude, with many mourning the loss of the oh-so-perfect Noriko, thus the fairytale-esque representation of her body, which blends in well with the “Snow White Murder Case” classification. However, once we learn of her true nature, the illusion fades and so to does the mystique of this immaculate murder victim.
All things considered, music plays a surprisingly large role in the plot of the film. Though the soundtrack serves to set the atmosphere when necessary, it is via the conduit of the Serizawa Brothers that the audio truly shines through. The musical trio’s violins are heard rather frequently, due to their status as the favourite band of a few characters, albeit for different reasons. Oddly enough, for the type of film that this is, the trio themselves actually appear in the film when a live concert enters the plot. Extending far beyond their sound, the group becomes yet another method for the film to express the dangerous mob mentality that can emerge from a social grouping. Even the Serizawa fan’s good intentions, though obsessive in nature, are shown to cause harm when followed blindly. A darker side of this fan/musician relationship is also briefly shown when members of the trio’s fan club express anger at the possibility of one of the Serizawas finding a girlfriend. It honestly doesn’t take much to make enemies online, something that Akahoshi learns all to well in the closing moments of the film. After all is said and done, and the truth is revealed, those who stood beside him in the investigation turn on him immediately, citing his handling of the case as unprofessional. There’s a dark irony in this turn of events, driving home one final time the nature of social media.
The Snow White Murder Case is an interesting exploration into an ever expanding facet of society. In a world where everyone can speak their mind, no matter what may be on it, certain aspects of life become more complicated. Sure there are irrefutable benefits, but it becomes a matter of whether or not the pros outweigh the cons. However, despite the film’s focus on the unending flow of opinion that arises from the civilian populace, the resolution of the plot showcases how futile this truly is in the grand scheme of things. When all is said and done, it is the ones who possess all of the facts that can reach the truth, something that blind enthusiasm cannot mimic. One must venture to not lose themselves in the hype of the latest media focus, lest they find themselves unable to see the forest for the trees.