6 people dead. Random, individual – probably like yourself in a lot of respects. Names that don’t stick out either; Katie Cooper, Christopher Michael. Prime examples of people we will never meet and, under normal circumstances, will never hear of. Even if you subscribe to the notion six degrees of separation – a truly wonderful film – it is still quite alien. All of a sudden you are sad for them. Their families and friends and pets. Their teachers and carers; co-workers and pen pals. It isn’t the kind of sad you feel when your family dies. When your friend or even your pet dies. But it is enough to feel down. Enough to write some tribute or condolence.
I looked at the YouTube page of Elliot Rodgers. He seems similar to myself. An ardent enthusiasm for Pokémon. The kind of vice that says ‘I really am happy for once, fuck you society’. At least that is my take. (Blastoise really was my best childhood friend). But then, there are some troubling things there. Among the few things he posted were rants about society and women. I’ve never had sex and I want to. I want to be with a girl but they won’t have me. I am just too awkward; too deep for people. They don’t even look at me… I haven’t even been kissed. They always go for the Jocks. The captains of the basketball or football team. The guys who refer to girls as bitches and pussies to be tamed and abused. It’s so unfair…
And I just began thinking. Shit. This is a film. This is an American, coming of age romance. This is the beginning to 40 year old Virgin or 10 things I hate about you. This is a golden opportunity; a happy ever after enacting itself in real life.
Of course, It’s horrible. it didn’t end in a good way. It didn’t end with the cute girl with glasses being taken behind a closed door. It didn’t inspire the ‘American pie feeling’ where stifler grows up, Jim gets Michelle and the side characters get laid by a god-like European empress.
But was it really that far off? The ending is what… 15 minutes? Just enough time to have sex or die. Two choices, two endings. Two endings I don’t think are far apart from one another. This is hard to hear for some but we are all capable of murder. All capable of cold blooded violence. Rage induced malice. Milgram, in a simple experiment, showed this in the majority of people. Our primal instincts are animalistic. Natural selection does not simply recognise a ‘civilized’ society and delete our malice. Our rage. Our Psychopathy. It adds on top of it. These qualities have served us quite well until now; enough to be propagated.
So you have one main storyline. Rejection, humiliation, loneliness. The obscure, esoteric little geek in the corner. Who’s teachers and peers ‘know’ from the age of 4 that they aren’t really normal. Don’t really fit in. Aren’t ever going to. The loners at the edge playing with string and glue while all the other kids play tag and practice kissing. Ah, memories.
And you have two endings. Happily ever after arising from incalculable fortune or the other. You live under laws that allow guns for everyone. You don’t get the fortune. You don’t get the big break; the girl or the self-realization. Eventually you end the rut by punishing the people who hurt you. The society that tormented you.
Then we disavow. They are damaged, always have been. Their thoughts, writings, videos – all of these point to a disturbed sociopath with mental problems. The freak that lives next door washing his car at 2am. The human being you laugh about in a coffee shop. The kind of people that start half your conversations; the social satire of the freak. Then they act exactly how you expect. They were always that miserable waste of skin that was waiting to go off. Even their family subscribe to this in hindsight. Distancing themselves from their own genes. Their own environment. Their own society.
I think the point I am trying to make is this. The next time you watch one of these films, appraise it on realism and not on a euphoric, absent minded ending that fills you with unadulterated joy. Think of the millions out there who don’t get this watered down version of life. Likewise, the next time – and there will undoubtedly be a next time – hear of one of these shootings, really look at it rather than stopping at every point to utter ‘tragedy’ while ignoring the true, systemic reasons why a 22 year old fucking kid can so easily shoot a bunch of people.