When it was discovered that the shooter at Virginia Tech was from South Korea, I made a Park Chan-Wook joke to my brother. After all, in his Vengeance Trilogy, the gifted South Korean director never really dealt with completely baseless vengeance, or formless vengeance, which is what Cho Seung-Hui was engaged in when he mowed down 29 more people than his original target. He was lashing out at a world that he thought was unfair and probably deserved what it was getting. He was a totally fucked up asshole, but that was probably his motivation.
Before going on his big rampage, Cho mailed some rambling statements, videos and photos to NBC, and one of the pictures, above, more than a little bit resembles a very famous moment from Oldboy, possibly Park Chan-Wook’s best film (at the very least his best known). There’s a chicken and the egg thing at play here – do violent movies and video games create creepy, unsociable loners or are creepy, unsociable loners drawn to violent movies and video games? To me the answer is clear – they’re drawn to these entertainments, and they may get specific ideas from them, such as how to dress or pose or hold a weapon, but they don’t get the urge or the ability to kill from them.
I was raised a Roman Catholic, and while I no longer logically believe in God or Hell, I instinctually fear burning for eternity. Should I be logically wrong and instinctively right, I hope Cho Seung-Hui is having a very unpleasant time right now, and not just for the people he murdered. I’m so sick of these lunatics almost going out of their way to show a connection between their acts and the games or movies they liked. I wish someone would mow down a mall full of people after watching 24 hours of Sandra Bullock romcoms, or after a long afternoon of reading The Collected Works of Bill O’Reilly. I wish the next mass murderer would do himself up in the colors of the Jets and film a final video where he says he thinks these sacrifices will help the team go to the Super Bowl. I wish so many fucking retards didn’t like the same stuff I did.
On the other hand, while I will vigorously and profanely defend any games, TV shows, movies or music that gets called out as a ‘motivator’ in this massacre (except for the Collective Soul song Cho’s roommates said he listened to over and over again. I hope that band rides the goddamned lightning), I do sometimes wonder about the culture we consume. So much of it is so meaninglessly violent and ugly, nasty without a point. Over the last two weeks I watched 11 movies in the Friday the 13th franchise and I don’t think once over the course of those sixteen and a half hours do I think I glimpsed one moment of human truth or any sort of beauty. Obviously that sort of stuff has no place in a series about an unkillable zombie murderer, but I sometimes wonder if there are people out there filling their cultural diet with nothing but that kind of crap.
We’ll see in the coming days if Cho sparks yet another ‘violence in the media’ shitstorm (I will bet you that between this and the whole After Dark Films Captivity poster debacle the MPAA is going to get really tight-sphinctered), but in the meantime I do hope that you’re making an effort to get really wonderful, beautiful works of art into your life. We saw again on Monday that the world’s an ugly place, and while it can be fun to blow off steam about it with some of the uglier entertainment, it’s important to make room for something a little bit beautiful and even uplifting.