Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An Argument About Movie Violence, Not An Argument About Movie Violence

So the shooter was a creepy loner who creeped people out. Raise your hand if you just flashed to the kid in your creative writing class who wrote f-ed up s that made you kinda move your chair away. Okay, good.

A student who attended Virginia Tech last fall provided obscenity- and violence-laced screenplays that he said Cho wrote as part of a playwriting class they both took. One was about a fight between a stepson and his stepfather, and involved throwing of hammers and attacks with a chainsaw. Another was about students fantasizing about stalking and killing a teacher who sexually molested them.

"When we read Cho's plays, it was like something out of a nightmare. The plays had really twisted, macabre violence that used weapons I wouldn't have even thought of," former classmate Ian McFarlane, now an AOL employee, wrote in a blog posted on an AOL Web site. He said he and other students "were talking to each other with serious worry about whether he could be a school shooter."
Who hasn't made bell-tower gallows jokes about creepy kids. Hell, a guy I became sort of odd friends with wore all black and creeped people out, but I think he did it for fun. Wonder where he is today . . . smart dude. But I digress.

You can check out the plays here. They're kinda creepy, I guess. Mostly they just suck. No insight. No stunningly created, original violence. Just banal, American-Psycho lite derivative material, by way of a Lifetime MOW.

Here's the thing though - a strong theme throughout coverage so far has been foreshadowing and warning, and the consequences of ignoring the former and failing to issue the latter. People feel bad now for not calling the kid out. Makes sense. But what could they have done more than what was done?

And what of Grindhouse? Or a lot of American cinema? I'm not saying violent cinema causes violence. I'm saying people have written crazier crap and they get rave reviews. This kid's crap was just crap. How many bad screenplays get circulated? Should we be concerned about people who write and dream up that kind of stuff? Oh, but it's an homage when Tarantino does it, right? So it's cool?

I think this goes back to my previous comments about guns and cops and why people listen and what is deeply seeded here in America that gets us to this point. What is it with us? What goes wrong?

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