Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hollywood Spree Killer

Yet another senseless loss of life thanks to another young underdeveloped male spree killer.

The perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, is the son of filmmaker Peter Rodger.  The elder Rodger is being linked to the "Hunger Games" series but he also recently made a film about God, going around the world challenging people to tell him the meaning of God, playing some moral equivalency games between Bush 43 and the 9/11 bombers, then later telling humanist Eldon Taylor in an interview:
We are primitive organisms on a big rock in a scary vacuum, driven by fear and desperately trying to find something to hold onto.
The son expressed a similar, albeit more grisly view in the bizarre evidence springing forth about his background.  The stuff on YouTube and in his writings is certainly chilling beyond belief, but there's almost a weird quality about it that reads more like a screenplay for the next slasher movie on the Chiller channel.  Most of the manifestos written by crazy people tend to be rambling streams of consciousness, often poorly written without attention to grammar, but his stuff doesn't read that way. He also hit on some hot button issues, inadvertently perhaps, or not.

For instance, readers of his manifesto will not doubt come away hearing what they want in certain areas. Those opposed to violent movies and video games will point to his blaming high-speed internet and an XBox for taking away his social life, which made him an empty shell.  Obviously the gamers won't like that.  That he used the internet not for good, but as a tool to research and plan his crime will disappoint internet freedom advocates but provide fodder for those who think the net is too open.  He even used the term "War on Women" in his manifesto, capitalizing it, as if a reality play off the political meme of the same name, maybe a sarcastic message.  

His description of the police 'welfare check' intervention and how he nervously fooled them reads like a how-to for future interventions in some kind of half-hearted advocacy for a bigger police state.  In other words, "whew, had they just searched my room and found the guns and manuscripts it would have been ov er" kind of thing, which some will use to advocate for searches of people suspected of being violent.  Others will see a rational-thinking person smart enough to fool the police and certainly smart enough to fool the gun dealers without a police record or history of mental illness. 

He also made it a point to stress that his day of retribution would not just be guns and ammo, but knives and hammers and other sharp weapons, and even automobiles used as weapons, almost as if answering the gun control advocates before they started.  A kind of "evil will be done, regardless" sentiment. 

In his 'attack plan', which reads more like a blog post, he mentions his intention to avoid responsibility at the end by not only killing himself with two handguns, but swallowing a bunch of Vicoden and Xanax along with an ample amount of 'hard liquor' to dull the pain.   So he was either prescribed such pills or getting them somewhere.  In other words, therapy won't work.    

Don't know what it is, but something seems weird about this event. It could just be the harsh spectacle of the cold, calculating, confused and twisted mind of a young delayed adolescent living in a privileged bubble with a destabilized family life (divorce, step mother, etc) with a propensity for violence enabled by the entertainment field in which his father made a living.  The TV shrinks will no doubt have it figured out soon.

Maybe the strangeness comes from the fact he's the educated son of a filmmaker so his writing is different than other crazed killers.  But it brings up the biggest question of all--are people sometimes just overtaken by evil alone?  Does calling them 'mentally ill' make everyone else feel better?  Along those lines, are evil people who don't believe in God nor a final judgment more likely to go out in a blaze of violence if they have no fear of eternal damnation? 

MORE  5/26/14

A few more items to ponder.   Having read most of the 'manifesto', which was more a life history/personal eulogy, it's clear this kid was giving off warning signs all along.  It's likely he suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which prevented him from feeling empathy for anyone else but himself, which caused him to externalize his failures and fears on other people instead of himself.  This seems to be a trait more seen with males than females.  His visions of grandeur eventually consumed his biography and allowed him to justify in his mind the death and horror he was going to produce.   Interestingly, he fought with himself over it in the narrative, 'hoping' to avoid it.  But his hopes were centered around getting instantly rich, which is why he became a compulsive lottery player.

His family did try to intercede.  In fairness, nobody really thinks their own flesh and blood could be capable of doing such horrible things.  But he was taken to several therapists/life coaches/counselors/psychologists and psychiatrists, without much effect.   As he fooled the police a few weeks before the massacre, he likely fooled the shrinks in the same manner.

Reading the biography is like a form of torture itself, but it's interesting to note what he DID NOT mention.  He didn't mention anything about external events in the country causing him any grief.  Nothing was mentioned about 9/11 to any significance, despite his mother and step-mother coming from Islamic countries and despite him traveling to both countries several times.  This could be an indication of the self-centered bubble he was living in, whether created by his family or himself.   He mentioned almost nothing of politics other than an offhand quote about the cool kids not understanding his politics.  As Powerline and others have pointed out, he 'liked' former Air America/MSNBC host Cenk Ugyur on his Facebook page.  But I'm reluctant to assign a political motive or cast aspersions on liberals/Democrats based on the actions of a crazed person who was all about himself.

Another odd thing is his lack of any mention of the hereafter.  As he was building up towards his 'Day of Retribution' he offhandedly mentioned his fear of death, but never made any comments on what he might experience in that realm.  Perhaps he dismissed any thinking about an afterlife to rationalize his act but it's clear from his story he was not brought up to have any religious beliefs whatsoever.  Unless he was leaving that chapter out on purpose.  He certainly didn't express any fear of 'retribution' in hereafter, which is similar to Islamic suicide bombers rationalizing that Allah would favor them for killing innocents, even rewarding them with heavenly sex.  Many are what can be called losers with women, which is no doubt part of the appeal (along with giving them an excuse for their earthly failures).  

He made no connection to that kind of sexual justice in any worlds beyond, but it's an interesting parallel nonetheless.  Surely his mother and stepmother had some opinion of Islam and passed it along during his upbringing, whether good or bad, especially after 9/11 and the Iraq war, but such is speculation.  Many Islamic fundamentalist males have a similar mindset when it comes to the power of women, which led early leaders of the faith to invent burkas and other rules that reduced sex appeal, so who knows what he was exposed to as to that philosophy.  It certainly appears he committed the act out of selfishness and not religion.

Finally, the gun control thing.  On the surface it does seem strange that such a nut could buy three handguns.  The facts say he was in control of his madness when it counted, such as buying the weapons and dealing with the police welfare check, and that's what makes this such a vexing problem.  Nobody, not the NRA or Sarah Palin or Ted Nugent or the late Charlton Heston would be in favor of his maniac getting access to guns, but the 'solution' might be worse than the problem, ie. having government psychiatric doctors determining who gets to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights and who doesn't.   So here we are.     




Debbie said...

I wondered about his mother(s) country of origin, the name looked Middle Eastern. Interesting. Also I had not read about his father's God movie. From one article I read the family was not well off financially, and the father had not really done much movie-wise. The kid was jealous of rich people. He had many problems... Nice article. Going to share.

Right Truth

Always On Watch said...

A thoughtful essay, A.C.

I do wonder if Elliot Rodger was creating some sort of "legend" with his various ramblings. I have to wonder if he really was a virgin. That aspect could have been part of the legend that he willfully created.

I also wonder how he developed such a sense of entitlement about getting sex.

Furthermore, he had a history of attacking people who seemed happy. See Elliot Rodger's Previous Attacks on Women, Couples.

A.C. McCloud said...

Debbie, I think the family was doing pretty well, at lot better than most. This kid just saw richer people and wanted more.

Not sure the mother is Muslim, btw, since her name Li Chen is of Chinese heritage. A lack of religion could also explain some things.

A.C. McCloud said...

Yeah AOW, my first impression of the videos was 'it's a movie trailer' for some cult movie on the Chiller channel. Good point on the past attacks--he worked his way up. That's what they say about most serial killers, start with small animals, etc.

Wondering about your idea of a legend makes me gin up a few conspiracy theories, but I better not!

Always On Watch said...

When I mentioned "legend," I was thinking of the anti-hero going out in a blaze and, thereby, assuring himself a version of immortality. Think of the film Bonnie and Clyde, for example.