It’s great to see someone give a damn. Make sure to watch all the way through to the end.
It seems like every year there is a new gun violence story to talk about — mass murders committed mostly by white (occasionally Asian, rarely African American) upper middle class or middle class (occasionally men of no means) men who are angry at the world, angry at women, angry at immigrants, angry at Jews, angry at the government. They are everywhere and access to weapons has never been easier. Want a gun? No problem. Want to stockpile weapons online? Easy as pie. No one is watching you. They’re all too busy looking for swarthy terrorists and busting pot growers.
It isn’t so simple to say that it’s untreated mental illness. Nope, the latest Isla Vista piece of shit was being well treated for mental illness. The Aurora shooter, the Newtown shooter and the Columbine shooters, not to mention the Virginia Tech shooter were all being treated for mental illness and most were being medicated. You want to blame medication? Can’t do that either because many of the less famous mass shooters who shot up fast food restaurants, post offices or synagogs weren’t being medicated. Blame guns? Well you can do that, sure, but guns have always been around. We’ve always had access to them. Blame hateful men for being angry? Sure, that’s a constant throughout human history and especially in the last 100 years. The rise of mass murders and serial killers is a fairly recent phenomenon, human history-wise. We’re overpopulated now, we’re living longer – it stands to reason weird shit is going to start cropping up in our DNA.
But what has really changed in the past 30 years? What has caused this epidemic of mass shootings, which has gone roughly this way:
1980s – 3 mass shootings recorded
1990s – 11 mass shootings recorded
2000s – 12 mass shootings recorded
2010 – 2014 13 mass shootings and counting
[source: LA Times]
When a tragedy hits, everyone scrambles around to find a reason. It’s uniquely and sweetly in our nature to do this. Our big brains cannot comprehend the chaos and madness that occurs in our world on a daily basis so there has to be a reason. Terrorism is a thing we can understand. Serial killing, to a degree, is something we can wrap our minds around because the motive is usually clear: they are sexual deviants. Random gun crime is also something we get — angry boyfriend, drive-by gang shooting, robbery. Even accidental crimes we get. But mass shootings, where some angry dude opens fire on unsuspecting people? This is something we really don’t yet understand, at least to the point where we can find a way to unplug the phenomenon.
A few film critics want so badly for it to be films and video games. Even Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly, in his very thoughtful piece The End of Empathy on the shootings, mentioned how Jim Holmes thought he was the Joker and failed to mention, yet again, that the Joker had green hair:
But when James Holmes, the 24-year-old lone gunman of the Dark Knight massacre, sat down in court on Monday, he didn’t recede into “anonymous” blankness, and that, of course, is because he was still wearing the chilling emblem of his madness: the hair that he had dyed bright orange, in a Day-Glo simulation of the Joker’s loony-tunes coif. Seeing that hair was more than just creepy and disturbing as hell. It made me angry, as if Holmes was mocking his victims, saying, in essence: I’m still the Joker -— and you’d better believe I’d do it again.
The media needed an easy tagline explanation. Holmes handed it to them on a platter.