Dreaming of heroism and villainy

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No need to recount this story: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57476379/questions-remain-over-mass-shooting-at-batman-screening-in-colo/

Most of us know the details. We were shocked/horrified/deeply saddened/outraged and upset.

Our initial reactions to each other aside, how many of us replayed the incident in our heads, casting ourselves as a major player in our own home movie? Did we play a heroic moviegoer who set aside all fears and tackled and fought the gunman? Did we decide to play the villain who created chaos for nothing more than the love of chaos?

Did any of us co-opt someone’s conflict and make it our own for our own meaningful(and meaningless)enjoyment?

I did. Other than that all I did was eat a cheeseburger and check my facebook today.

It isn’t their tragedy, it’s ours. We like to think so, at least. 

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18 Responses to Dreaming of heroism and villainy

  1. claudius says:

    Let me start off by saying that The Dark Night Rises is a great movie – but whether you like it or not, don’t let the actions of some narcissistic asshole prevent you from seeing it.

    • thestage says:

      there’s an irony here

    • penyalius says:

      Since when did narcissistic become synonymous with devastatingly psychotic?

      • claudius says:

        Who said they were synonymous and/or mutually exclusive? Self centered, lacking empathy, treating others as disposable prop objects in your movie…


        • penyalius says:

          I assume we’re talking about NPD and not cultural narcissism or the character defect (cultural narcissism doesn’t have much to do with shooting people).
          The narcissists is usually fully aware of the difference between true and false, real and make-belief, the invented and the extant, right and wrong. The narcissist consciously chooses to adopt one version of the events, an aggrandising narrative, a fairy-tale existence, a “what-if” counterfactual life. He is emotionally invested in his personal myth. The narcissist feels better as fiction than as fact – but he never loses sight of the fact that it is all just fiction.
          Would you call Patrick Bateman psychotic or a narcissist first? Sure, you can apply the term “narcissistic” to him (he obviously is), but just because you can apply the terms doesn’t mean it’s all one or all the other. In faux-Joker’s case, it only hazily resembles NPD, and very clearly resembles being completely fucking insane.

          • claudius says:

            NPD is no longer in the DSM, so it’s a moot point to bring the old DSM definition up. I’m defining narcissism here as per TLP’s definition.

            Sure, you can apply the term “narcissistic” to him (he obviously is), but just because you can apply the terms doesn’t mean it’s all one or all the other.

            1) Patrick Bateman does not exist, he’s a character in a movie. Why are you bringing up Patrick Bateman and trying to compare a fictional character to a real person? Even if Patrick Bateman were real, their M.O. doesn’t match at all.

            2) As per “Joker-face” – When did I ever say it was either one or the other? All I said was that he was a narcissistic (as per TLP’s definition) asshole – if you want to add psychotic in there be my guest.

  2. vandal says:

    I imagines a bunch of happy excited children going to see Batman and having to deal with that freak blasting into them. I thought psychopaths fucking suck and hoped he/they would be caught. The psycho is a narcissist by TLP standards of creating an idealized identity and imagining himself the center of a movie and making himself as such. That’s all really. My mom is around here now and said it was a disgusting thing that happened. Everyone else I know agrees that it was tragic and cruel.

    What should we be thinking instead?

    • claudius says:

      What is it about this tragedy that makes people care so much? Though you can’t hear the tone of a question through written text, I’m asking this in a genuine way.
      Most Americans can’t be bothered by a IED blowing up 20 civilians/soldiers in Iraq – how is this any different? What makes the deaths of Americans overseas any less tragic than deaths here? Why do people care about this more than a gang shooting in an inner city where 12 people are killed?

      I think it is because having something like this happen in a movie theater reminds us of how powerless we are, and how real death is. Americans really don’t consider themselves vulnerable to death in their day to day activities. If you’re on the facebook/twitter/blogosphere, you see heated debates about gun control, violent video games, psychology, the causes, etc. But ultimately, how much will such discourse cause real, fundamental change to occur in our society to prevent this from happening again? Slim to none.

      If this discourse isn’t bringing about fundamental change, then why do people do it? Maybe by discussing what happened, people crowdsource their feelings of unease towards their own powerlessness and death. It acts as a temporary bandage until the next tragic event comes along.

      • Or says:

        We expect soldiers to go into places where IEDs are blowing up. In a gang shooting, we know that the shooters were already members of a gang. But wars (and gang wars) can end. What’s different about this is how it shows that even under strong conditions of law and order, a person who has lived his life, up to now, in accordance with law and order, can do something like this. It shatters what hope we still have for that war-torn country or that gang-run neighborhood.

      • Or says:

        And yes, I realize this is all very reminiscent of the Joker’s spiel where he says, “If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!”

        But that’s the Joker. And the Joker doesn’t make any more sense just because James Holmes called himself “the Joker” but dyed his hair the wrong color and wore a gas mask to make himself look like Bane, showing very poor research skills which probably led him to quit his PhD program in the first place.

  3. DataShade says:

    ” Did we play a heroic moviegoer who set aside all fears and tackled and fought the gunman? Did we decide to play the villain who created chaos for nothing more than the love of chaos?”

    Nope. Do you need the rest of us to have done so? Are you assuming I’m lying, and saying to yourself, “well at least I can admit it, unlike that guy?”

  4. qubitman says:

    The biggest thing clawing at my brain right now is why. Why in god’s name did he do it? What inspired him to act in that way? I have no idea at all, and I’m not sure I’ll ever get a satisfactory answer, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion a suitable lie will show up to scratch that itch sooner or later.

  5. Forsooth says:

    Kids are crazy these days. Batty, jobless neuroscience majors. Pictured skinny sexless geek with a dumb smile. But I kid, I kid, as how can this, something I’ve only heard on the news, be a real thing?

    So. Looking at the victim list. What jumps out was the first one, Blunk, which fits the “hero” type to the bloody spandex suit. Died jumping in front of his female friend, and yes, they made that explicitly clear. Also had prior Naval experience.

    Conveniently, he was also the first alphabetically, but he would have been at the top even if his last name had been Zzzzzzzzz. I wonder, is the “estranged wife” and “worked at a hardware store” only there to show that the victims were human?

    God, this isn’t even subtle. Blunk got 5 lines of backstory, while the rest of the other tools hardly got more than a name. “Packers fan.” This isn’t tragic, it’s our two minutes hate/love/emotion/investment, and what eats me is it worked.

  6. herereadthis says:

    Those of us who have used guns know how truly loud they are. Especially using rifle rounds in an enclosed space. I’m betting many people got treated for bleeding ears.

    That loudness, plus the darkness of a theater – minus the muzzle flashws, plus the disorienting tear gas…

    Actually, I imagined myself not as a hero or a villain, but as someone cowering under some seats, pissing my pants.

  7. GOTO10 says:

    Several days have passed, and I’m still not engaged in this. Really, I just don’t get it. The news (and the commenter here!) tell me I should be upset and afraid, but i’m not. I’m not upset or sad, annoyed or angry, I’m simply not engaged. I really just don’t care either way. Clearly there’s something wrong with me.

    Intellectually I get it. People who get personally and emotionally invested are trying to rationalize the event so they can fit it in their world view and move one… “Why did he do it?!” but any reason will do. You need that ‘why’ to be something abnormal so you can label the shooter as an ‘other’ and clear the mental block. But even if you don’t get the ‘why’ it’s trivial to say dismiss it as “he must have had mental issues”.

    But personally I really just don’t care. It’s just another body count. An event ‘over there’ where someone died. It’s a story, and it’s being told as a story because people react better to stories. But the more story-like the event becomes the large the undercurrent of fakeness it has and the easier it is for me to disconnect.

    I know it’s real, and that there many families in torturous arduor over their lost loved ones. I sympathize. But there are therapists for the victims, psychologist working with the kid, juries to punish, police forces to try and prevent it from happening again. Other than the very remote chance of a copy-cat hitting near me… the shooting has changed nothing in my world.

    Does that make me monstrously insensitive? Probably yes. At the same time so are you. Are you even aware of what’s happening in Somalia? Or is that too far ‘over there’? Too much of a story, so it’s easy to dismiss? sound familiar?

  8. Or says:

    So now it seems a UCI professor made plans to shoot up his suicided son’s high school, but only managed to light a few things on fire to express his rage: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/OC-DA-After-son-s-death-professor-plots-attack-3752483.php#ixzz22HMCm7xd

    “According to UC Irvine’s website, Reinscheid’s research included studying molecular pharmacology and psychiatric disorders, including studies of schizophrenia, stress, emotional behavior and sleep.”

    A psychiatrist at Fort Hood, a neuroscience graduate student in Aurora, a psychiatric researcher in Irvine… This is getting disturbing. Is there something that these people learn about the human mind that convinces them they’re capable of doing these things? Or something that they don’t learn? I can’t help but think of TLP’s comment that “The old adage that shrinks go into shrinkage to figure themselves out sounds awesomely correct except that it’s incorrect and inawesome. They go into it so they don’t have to figure themselves out.”

    • Guy Fox says:

      3 more things to consider:

      1) Fort Hood & Irvine both had immigrant backgrounds, though this is probably a red herring. Millions of immigrants don’t hurt anybody daily, and their respective backgrounds were pretty different.

      2) How would neuroscience insulate anyone against this? Reinscheid studied, or at least published about, neuropeptides, and all I found about Holmes is that he was working on a paper about micro-RNA biomarkers. None of that would help them recognize and deal with their overwhelming rage. It might even be that it biased them against being able to recognize that they were going loony, in the assumption that they were above it, pinnacles of rationality and modern science, masters of the synapse!

      3) Even knowing how emotions and structures of meaning work won’t necessarily make you into Cliff freakin’ Huxtable. Freud, Nietzsche, Hemmingway all knew a lot about how people tick, but they were all seriously disturbed in their own ways. Would you let any of them babysit your kids? That kinda goes for TLP, too, I suppose, much as I respect the guy. It does often seem as if he’s writing for and to himself. Just look at the dude’s logo. Sure, it’s just branding, but it’s how he’s branding himself, and the imagery is about as subtle and cheerful as a hippie nailed to a cross.

      3a. I might let TLP watch kids though, provided: a) they’re not mine; b) rum is limited to 3 cl/hour.