Elliot Rodger: Blank Canvas for Political Paint-Slinging
May 29, 2014
The case of Elliot Rodger, the Hollywood director's son who reacted to his lack of social success by killing six people and injuring several more at the University of California at Santa Barbara, offers a little something for everyone in the blame game that immediately follows every mass killing.
The crime offered our side the chance to point out that Rodger stabbed half his victims to death and injured several more with the BMW his parents bought him in a failed attempt to build his self-esteem. No AR-15s were used, just pistols he took into possession only after California's two-week waiting period and presumably with state approved 10-round magazines.
On the other side, Richard Martinez, the father of one of the victims, gave Rodger's parents, the mental health industry, the local sheriff's office and anyone else involved a full pass, placing all blame for the incident on the NRA.
That was perfectly predictable, of course, and you may plan to see Martinez plodding the same trail walked by Sarah Brady, Carolyn McCarthy, Gabrielle Giffords, etc. It has to be hard to accept the fact that a loved one was taken by some loser like Lee Harvey Oswald or John Hinckley, Jr. or Jared Loughner. There has to be more meaning to the violent death of someone near and dear, and NRA is a mighty dragon for would-be dragon slayers.
Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday (note that's not Hornady like the ammo) took one of the more interesting tacks, saying the killing was the inevitable result of white male control of the film industry.
"As Rodger bemoaned his life of 'loneliness, rejection and unfulfilled desire' and arrogantly announced that he would now prove his own status as 'the true alpha male,' he unwittingly expressed the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood's DNA. For generations, mass entertainment has been overwhelmingly controlled by white men, whose escapist fantasies so often revolve around vigilantism and sexual wish-fulfillment (often, if not always, featuring a steady through-line of casual misogyny). Rodger's rampage may be a function of his own profound distress, but it also shows how a sexist movie monoculture can be toxic for women and men alike."
I visit a theater maybe once every three years, mainly because I don't want to enrich a lot of Tinseltown parlor pinks who want to take my guns. So I'm not going to claim Hornaday's level of expertise on current cinema themes. But I will point out that when right-wingers like Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner were running things, we got Signing in the Rain and The Sound of Music, not Silence of the Lambs or Knocked Up.
The culture those earlier white male moguls depicted has been derided as conformist, racist and homophobic, but it didn't produce young men willing to commit mass murder because they couldn't score with sorority girls. The culture that produces an Elliot Rodger is today's Hollywood of drug abuse, polymorphous perversity, pedophilia and $35,000-a-plate dinners for Democratic candidates.
Hornaday took a beating from Post readers who flayed her deviation from the party line that any and all crimes are to be blamed on the white male gun owners who make up the NRA. Ever since the JFK assassination, any big crime involving a gun is the occasion for a Two Minutes Hate:
"The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one's will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic." George Orwell, 1984.
That's OK. We're used to the Two Minutes Hate, and the main effect of each one is to pump even more millions into the NRA and to harden our determination all the more. But so long as every mass killing is the occasion for blaming everyone except the killer, we're going to have more of them.