Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some thoughts on the school violence

I must've been in some kind of depression last week. When the news of the Kauhajoki shooting incident came out, I lost contact with the world. That's what it seems now. I was in a state of confusion. I slept badly. I couldn't believe anyone could be capable of doing what the guy in Kauhajoki did - he shot ten and then killed himself.

I did analyze the event, mainly in some blogs, here and elsewhere, but I don't think those did much good to anything or anyone. Certainly not to those who were in midst of their grief, who'd lost some of their loved ones. I can't imagine what they feel and think.

But writing about it is all I can do. Maybe beside bringing up my own children in respect of other human beings and everything living.

I've been questioning also my own role. I've been touting violent fiction here in my blog and my reviews and articles for the last ten years. I've helped starting a book line that will feature books in which people maim and kill each other, in some just for the sake of it. And why? Some books - the best books in this vein - always have a some sort of quality, a dignity in which the people in the book are portrayed, but not all. Some are just fun. And it's the fun part that's getting to me. Is it really okay to show people kill each other just because it's fun? Take Kill Bill for instance. Well, okay, I didn't like the film (and I've been very disappointed with Tarantino, since I really, really loved Reservoir Dogs: it had dignity his later films don't, the main exception being the very mature Jackie Brown), but still I've got feelings lately that I should've rallied against the film, marched down the street and shouted: "Ban Bill! Ban Bill!" or some such nonsense (in which I don't believe for a minute).

This is probably not making any sense. Films or books didn't have anything to do with the wacko that killed ten in Kauhajoki - but I still have a nagging feeling that the guy was thinking of Die Hard and Steven Seagal and John Woo, when he shot the glass walls down in the school hall. The aesthetics of action film came alive in those minutes. (But, hey, I've never said I liked Seagal or Woo. Die Hard, the first, is a very good film, probably one of the best actioneers of the eighties, but nothing to follow ethically or aesthetically in my books.)

I'm rambling. Let me say it again: films or books didn't cause anything. If something should be rallied against it's the availability of small weapons. Who needs .22 guns the guy used to shoot ten people? No one. Absolutely no one. There's been discussion in Finland whether all the pistols should be abandoned. Some say that hey, it's great sports and didn't we just win gold in the Beijing Olympics in shooting? Yes, we did, but then again we lost ten kids. Which is more important, some people's hobby or everyone's right to stay alive?

I've been thinking about lot of other issues lately. I even came up with an idea that maybe we should drop eating dead animals. Then we wouldn't so easily think of other human beings as objects with which we can do anything we please. Maybe. I don't know. (But we really should at least diminish eating dead animals, only for the climate's sake. I've tried to cut down that myself.)

It all comes down to this: I don't know. I don't know what caused all this and I don't know will prevent it. We can only try and abandoning all small handguns would be one step ahead.

(Ah, well, I guess I must move own. Stuff on violent fiction coming soon.)


pattinase (abbott) said...

You have to wonder. US television is filled with violent fictional stories of child killers, serial killers, wife-beaters, addicted people, people with no scruples. How can it not affect those who have a horrible home life? The vulnerable must be influenced by what's portrayed to them as commonplace, interesting, a solution.

Todd Mason said...

Yes, but we can't build our mutual lives around the possibility that a given lunatic will decide that the solution to his problems is axing his family or shooting some high-school kids. An interesting, though I don't know how vetted, article in the new ATLANTIC MONTHLY quotes stats that suggest that the prevalence of porn access over the last two decades has been coincident, at least, with a steep Decline of rape and sexual assault, despite the predictions of antiporn folks. Don't know that our joy in deft, and often sober, depictions of the horrors of violence (or of over the top psychos) doesn't help us cope with those kinds of impulses. (DIE HARD the film doesn't count as such for me.)

Juri said...

Thanks for comments, Patti and Todd. I'll be getting back to this. Must organize my thoughts. And give more details, for example, this wasn't a normal (??) school shoot-out, since the killer was already 22.