‘Obama promised “out of this darkness a brighter day will come”; it won’t, of course, because he won’t do anything about guns and the culture of his society which, like ours, is becoming ever more infantile.’


Image courtesy of esc.ape(d) via flickr.com ©©

Jessica Ghawi was, to say the least, unlucky.  She was the 24-year-old sports journalist who survived a mass shooting in a Toronto shopping mall last month, only to decide
to go to the premiere of the new Batman movie, in Denver on Friday. Even by North American standards, to run into two deranged, would-be mass murderers, armed to the teeth and lusting for blood, within a few weeks was an unlikely coincidence.  A fatal one, in her case.

President Obama promised that- I quote – “out of this darkness a brighter day will come” – it won’t, of course, because he won’t do anything about guns and the culture of his society, like ours, is becoming ever more infantile.

The Colorado killer was an unstable loner – even his parents thought he was seriously weird – yet he was able legally to buy a semi-automatic assault rifle, two pistols and a pump action shotgun, not to mention 6000 rounds of ammunition, poison gas and explosives.

America’s love affair with the gun is inexplicable. The second amendment to the constitution, establishing the citizen’s right to bear arms, was drafted when Americans needed muskets to fight off redcoats, and go hunting buffalo. They’re now the world’s
only superpower, the redcoats’ successors would have trouble invading the Isle
of Wight and most Americans do their hunting in MacDonalds. Yet half the population lives in a household with a gun.

Children and madmen love guns for the same reason – they make the weak feel strong.  The gun’s transformative power gives the inadequate the drop on those he fears and
envies. It is a magic wand for immature saddoes. In a properly run country, wanting a gun would automatically disqualify you from ever owning one.

So much, so obvious. What about Batman? How much is he to blame?  The Denver mass murderer dressed up as the Joker and replayed one of his celluloid crimes.  It would be easy, too easy, to talk about copy-cat killings and get all facile and righteous.

Anyway, it’s worse than that.

When did kid’s comics become the staple fare of supposedly adult entertainment? OK, the “superhero” (pause to register the meaningless linguistic inflation that reduces mere heroes to the ranks) has production values, a little ambiquity and the odd wry aside.  But the superhero movies are infantile in the sense that life is reduced to an elemental battle between good and evil, when reality is nothing of the sort.  Those we
regard as most evil – those who administered the Holocaust, or Apartheid,for instance, maybe even these mad mass murderers, thought their objectives were noble, even if their methods were regrettable.

What’s the difference between them and the Superhero’s vigilantism…which is all about fighting criminals by submitting them to endless violence at the hands of men in masks. Batman’s director says his work is an exploration of ends justifying means –Himmler would probably have said the same.

It’s not just a matter of all this cosmic kick-ass desensitizing our moral judgement. Superheroes rehash old myths that lure us into dangerous simplicities. They have a journey –child of privilege, born to distinguished parents. The parents somehow have to abandon him, he is saved by a surrogate carer then he grows up, discovers his origins and finds his purpose. Sounds familiar? Not just Batman and Superman, but Tarzan, Hercules, Oedipus, Moses – and, well, Jesus.

It’s time we grew up and started to look at the world through adult eyes. We don’t need guns, or superheroes, or, for that matter, God.

As the Batman credits say: We don’t get the hero we need; we get the hero we deserve.

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  • Every point you make here goes double for the the Va Tech shooter who had actually been labeled ‘a potential danger to himself and others’ by a judge and still, subsequently, allowed to purchase automatic weapons which he turned into wmd. The shooter, Cho, had been emotionally troubled his entire life but his overly religious mother took him to priests and ministers instead of psychiatrists. At one point the boy was even subjected to some sort of exorcism. I am not a big proponent of therapists (‘the rapists’) -they generally do more harm than good, but in such a case as Cho’s, who clearly was unstable. who knows, had he gotten some proper psychiatric treatment the shooting might not have occurred. It certainly could not have hurt.

  • As provocative as ever Michael!

    Your comments certainly stir up debate, perhaps quite healthy at times

    Just waiting for your next article. Be careful though, wouldnt want you being stereotyped or even morphing into James Whale

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