This very weird and slightly deranged column by an old liberal white woman in the Washington Post is getting lots of traffic. She is listed as a music critic, but that does not seem like a real job. It’s more of a hobby, like being a model train enthusiast. Then again, maybe there is a position in the media for covering hobbyists. Like higher education, the mass media is full of made up jobs and titles.
As deranged manifestos go, the final YouTube video made by suspected Isla Vista, Calif., mass murderer Elliot Rodger was remarkably well-made. Filmed by Rodger in his black BMW, with palm trees in the background and his face bathed in magic-hour key light, the six-minute diatribe — during which he vows revenge on all the women who rejected him and men who were enjoying fun and sex while he was “rotting in loneliness” — might easily have been mistaken for a scene from one of the movies Rodger’s father, Peter Rodger, worked on as a director and cinematographer.
Indeed, as important as it is to understand Rodger’s actions within the context of the mental illness he clearly suffered, it’s just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in. With his florid rhetoric of self-pity, aggression and awkwardly forced “evil laugh,” Rodger resembled a noxious cross between Christian Bale’s slick sociopath in “American Psycho,” the thwarted womanizer in James Toback’s “The Pick-Up Artist” and every Bond villain in the canon.
David Berkowitz thought his dog was telling him to kill people. The dog did not make him crazy or make him kill people. Berkowitz was crazy and crazy people think the family dog is telling them to kill. Some percentage of crazy people act on these delusions. It’s sad and we all hope that one day science can address these biological problems, so that spree killing can be eliminated from life. Until then, crazy going on rampages is a feature of modern human existence.
If that day comes, people like Ann Hornaday will still be out there looking to “find meaning” in the randomness of biology. Frivolous people who feel some need to speak in public will always be with us. If emoting about random acts of violence is taken away, they will find another way to annoy us. It would probably be better for society to solve the harpy problem before the mass shooter problem, but a society willing to do that will not have either problem for very long.