Thursday, December 06, 2007

Mall Shooting

Well this is all over the press, so I might as well comment on it. 9 people were killed and 5 wounded when a 19 year old boy decided to go to the mall and become famous. Yep, that's exactly what happened according to witnesses and the recently released suicide note and will left at the boy's apartment. I use the term boy, not as Samari Rolle cornerback for the Ravens was recently called by an official in poor taste, but as a term to describe what a person who happens to be a male is referred to when they haven't matured to manhood. I stress this point to throw out that link and to also make a distinct point about this case and the other cases that are already being compared to it.
Reporters like categories. It's how they are able to frame stories with reference to other stories that may or may not have more than a single coincidence so that we as the audience can fit into our simple minds that some sort of misguided trend has presented itself to society. Personally, I think this is bullshit. I don't believe this incident has anything to do with the Virginia Tech shooting or the famed Columbine shooting with one exception... fame. Now the Times is making some claims to the shooter's troubled life and a court date that was upcoming to paint an image of this boy as a victim of society's hardships. Not to uplift his image, but to smear it from "normal". This tactic too is kind of bullshit, but propaganda is propaganda and I'd like to just touch on fame for now.
If there is one single problem with today's youth that this incident and others can be reflected for, it's that fame is too big a deal these days. Sure I remember growing up in the eighties and nineties and seeing this shift from kids that strived to be something important to society to kids that just wanted to be famous. To be fair, my chosen profession was always somewhat attached to this, but for me it was never about the fame, it was the art and the craft. These days craft and art are in no way connected with fame. People like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears have informed us that you don't need to be good at anything to be famous, you just need to get into the press. For a hotel heiress and a lucky pop singer, that's an easy game. Passing out at a bar or not wearing panties while getting out of a limo is enough to keep your fame locked in. You don't even have to be popular, you just have to get a headline.
So how does this tie in with the shooter? Well he stated that this incident will make him famous. He's wrong of course. I don't know his name and I doubt many will after a week or so. These incidents don't make people famous, they make people dead. But the media is keeping the ball rolling. They are ensuring that so long as every psycho kid with a troublesome life that shoots up anywhere, USA is placed into their neat category, kids that are in that situation will see this as an answer.
I said today at work that I wonder how long it'll be before some podunk mall somewhere installs metal detectors and FOX news releases a story about this being a "new trend" in America. How long before I have to listen to some asshole at the bus stop worry about being at a crowded place lest he be shot by some poor kid.
What we need to recognize about all of these instances is that they are separate. These kids might look to their predecessor as inspiration for the act, but the resemblance ends there. Why? Because there is no way for anyone to research the truth. All that is there to pull from is media headlines and stories. These sources, already suspect in the truth arena, will always dumb down the truth to make it digestible to the audience. This removal of actual researched truth is precisely why these incidents should be seen as singular events and not some trend of today's youth.
But while this post is probably the most unorganized post I've written in a while, I still want to stress this simple point. Fame is not an answer for anything. Fame is nothing at all. Accomplishments are the hallmark of fame, not the fame itself. Does anyone really think that Lindsay Lohan's crotch photos will be a huge deal twenty years from now? Perhaps to some online perverts. No, in the long run, the people who will be famous will be those that make an impact on their environment. Those that make true art and craft. Those that excel because they are driven to. Not some punk ass kid who thinks that firing a gun earns any bit of respect. The only respect that kid deserved and the only media attention he deserves for it came from the barrel at the end of that gun. The moment that bullet took his life, he found what he was looking for. It's just a shame 8 people had to die by the hands of a fool. It's more of a shame that at 19 he didn't see life as being worth it anymore. Of course, living in a country where bigotry is the law and soldier's deaths are praised, how could anyone with an immature mind come up with a better answer? I guess what I'm saying is I'm really sad that this happened, because while it doesn't show a trend of shootings as a norm, it shows a trend of misguided ideals in the next generation. These kids really only know the Bush years. And those years haven't really shown America as a place for great accomplishment, but a place of great fear and worse consequence.

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