it’s late thursday night/early friday morning. it’s another big budget comic book movie opening. the movie screens just after midnight to squeeze all the juice and hype out of it that can be had. the smaller theatre is packed. there’s a certain type of movie-goer who wants to be first to see the new ‘thing’, whatever it is. they almost always turn out in droves. the highly anticipated movie is playing and the crowd is lost in their cinematic experience.
in the darkness, from the front of the theater, a rolling and hissing sound occurs. then a shot into the air. then shots into the audience. it’s mayhem. many are dead and dozens more are wounded.
it’s a stupid tragedy. a nut with a gun.
each time this happens the reaction is predictably banal. one part of society wants to blame the gun. another wants to blame the media the shooter might have consumed – film, tv, pornography, whatever. certain factions of the media will look into the person’s background to try to find some deeper, more nuanced culprit. they are all big on blame. they want to point a finger like the gun itself was pointed. i don’t know what the point of that could be.
why would someone kill and hurt so many people randomly? people ask the question like there is an answer that would satisfy.
the theories abound: was he acting out a movie or something, playing out some script he had made in his head? the media and the public react almost like they are going off of their own script. they run with stories of: what precautions are being taken to ensure this doesn’t happen here? are local moviegoers staying home instead of going to the movies because of the tragedy? was the killer influenced my movies and comic books (we’ll tell you what your kids might be reading at 11!)? were his parents intolerably cruel to him? was his bullied? did he ever get laid? why did he dye his hair? what kind of car did he drive? and on and on.
they report it as though there is some combination of media, trauma and personality disorder than can drive someone to kill random people in the biggest possible number.
after 9/11, we settled in for a long campaign of security bullshit in the name of freedom. and though airport security has proven itself in this country to be ineffective, we still put our toiletries in bags, take off our shoes, and surrender our liberty temporarily to people at the airport who want to look at infra-red pictures of our naked bodes, just before they run the back of their hand over a woman’s tits or a guys crotch.
in the wake of this awful event, many people will call for increased security at movie theaters, like this is likely to happen again and again.
we live in a fear based and safety obsessed culture. whenever anything happens that is negative, an effort is made to stop that bad thing from ever happening again. it starts small – bicycle helmets and metal detectors. but taken to the extreme, our hunger for surety and safety leads us slowly to less freedom and a kind of paralysis.
we also live in an increasingly narcissistic, individual-driven culture where the self is all and everyone’s point of view has to be catered to. the shooter in this case is no different. when i was young and feeling lost and miserable, it never occured to me to kill anyone else. it was always a suicidal instinct. in the wake of shootings like this, i wonder if the self-centered culture we’ve crafted makes this a last resort. the postmodern suicide is inverted, and you therefore try to kill everyone else.
the shooter in this case was james holmes.
some reports have him acting out a ‘joker’ persona as he’s been in custody. is this surprising or satisfactory? of course he’s playing a role. he’s playing the role of a mad killer, because he is one. he’s imitating the worst of crazy behavior, maybe because he’s nuts and maybe because he thinks that’s what a mad killer is supposed to do. i’m sure he’s played out even the scenario he’s in now a 1000 times. i wonder if it’s going like he hoped?
here’s a gallery of his pics:
a lot is being made in the media that they can’t find his twitter or facebook accounts, as though his being on social media is a given. he probably deleted or deactivated any accounts, for whatever reason, before the violence. but maybe not. curiously, his adult friend finder account was created just this month and wasn’t deleted. he looks like a total goof. maybe this was intentional.
not being able to find his social networking stuff, the experts started to weight in on what this could mean:
“it’s certainly unusual. data suggests that 95 to 98 percent of people holmes’ age are on social media,” dr. megan moreno, of university of wisconsin-madison school of medicine and public health, told CBS News. as for that other 5-to-2 percent, moreno, highlighted a link between extreme internet use – or lack of use – and depression.
do you see what the ‘expert’ said there? if you use too much internet (and i guess social networking), you are likely to be depressed. but also, if you use too little, you might also be depressed?
the assumptions here are ridiculous. first, that he didn’t just deactivate or delete his stuff before he wanted to go apeshit is something you don’t know. second, that if you are a human being, you must, in some way use social networking. third, that your main use of the internet is likely social networking. and fourth, that some degree of social networking is necessary to be mentally healthy? meh…. i dunno.
my point is – stories like this are a problem. they dissect meaning and motive on a molecular level looking for those aforementioned ‘answers’ which do not exist. in helping people to deal with the grief and sadness, they endorse precautions which aren’t necessary and only serve to reinforce that fear, that grief.
perhaps the coverage of these shootings makes future shootings more likely to happen. the angry loner who might otherwise just be a passive aggressive dick in life or hurt himself can make the leap from turning his self loathing outward rather than inward. slowly, the fantasy of doing something awful and achieving infamy feeds his ego and helps him forget how crazy he must actually be, or how much he truly hates himself or life itself.
the media has made a big deal about how he dropped out of medical school, that he may have been living off a national institutes of health university grant, that he booby trapped his apartment, that his hair was dyed a comical color and that he ‘planned’ the mass murder.
whereas the story of the victims and their lives give our grief a name and a measure of the true humanity of the situation, the details they feed us about the killer give us some measure of control, some degree of safety. we can look at him and say, like i said in the sierra newbold blogs, that he is not us. it isn’t us that did this awful thing. we can feel comfort in the fact that we are nothing like him. and though i do think there’s some measure of an outward, destructive impulse inside us all, of course we aren’t like him.
of course this is an aberration – that’s why we are talking about it so much. if the movie went off without a hitch, save for the fact that a kid tripped on the stairs in the dark, we wouldn’t mention that if we were in the theater itself, because that happens a million times a day.
that this is so appalling, that we feel the need to pointlessly dissect every aspect of it is proof that this is not the norm. it is not a trend. it’s just an awful thing that happened because of one asshole. the curious part is that he gave himself up and is still alive to be ogled like a diseased zoo animal.
i’ve visited the denver and specifically the aurora, colorado area a lot. denver is one of my favorite cities. some pics from the area can be found here, but given my photographic inclination, they are probably largely just of random people. it’s the only connection i can find to the area to share, and i can’t find the ones i liked the most that i took earlier….but there’s the link anyways.
the shooter had his first court appearance today. i wonder if he was drugged, or if he’s trying to appear out of it. maybe he is just downright mentally ill. he bobbed his head and blinked a lot, like a moronic champion. i took a screenshot on my phone and made him into a painting, since he appears so clown-like.
james holmes at his first court appearance, if claude monet was the courtroom sketch artist