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Virus Anxiety, Haunted Telecommunication, and Contagious Narratives:

The Supernatural Media Virus as a Paradigmatic Crisis Narrative of the Network Society in the 21st-Century

Rahel Sixta Schmitz

Pages 337 - 356

Abstract: Today’s society is marked by a virus anxiety: the omnipresent anticipation of the next big crisis induced by a biological, technological, or media-related virus. Since the 1990s, the trope of the supernatural media virus has comprised a recurring form of this virus anxiety in Gothic fiction. This can be any kind of supernatural entity propagating virally through media technologies. The films ‚Kairo‘, ‚You Die‘, and ‚Countdown‘ all feature such a supernatural media virus that spreads through telecommunication technologies, and which exploits the paths of interconnection in the network society. Significantly, in each film, the virus not only spreads fast and far due to the technical specificities of its viral vector, but in particular due to the social practices and narratives tied to the respective medium. Gothic narratives featuring the supernatural media virus hence emphasize that, if we want to understand the dynamics of modern media, we must also consider the stories and dispositions we share about these technologies.


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