Hollywood Glamorization Of Violence And Media Glorification Of Crime
Triggering The Social Epidemic of School Shootings
Triggering The Social Epidemic of School Shootings: Hollywood Glamorization of Violence and Mainstream Media Glorification Of Crime
From Single Infection To Epidemic
In the national bestseller The Tipping Point, author Malcom Gladwell persuasively argues that social epidemics work in exactly the same way as disease epidemics.
“Epidemics are  a function of the people who transmit infectious agents” i.e. a 4-year old girl with measles.“ …the infectious agent itself” i.e. measles are highly contagious; “…and  the environment in which the infectious agent is operating” i.e. the 4-year old attends day care.
The same three factors that can easily cause a measles epidemic are the same three factors that caused the spread of AIDS. And the same factors also explain the social epidemic of school shootings.
AIDS Patient Zero
Gladwell writes “…in the book And the Band Played On Andy Shilts discusses at length the so-called Patient Zero of AIDS, the French-Canadian flight attendant Gaetan Dugas, who claimed to have 2,500 sexual partners all over North America, and who was linked to at least 40 of the earliest cases of AIDS in California and New York.”
“When an epidemic tips, when it is jolted out of equilibrium, it tips because something has happened, some change has occurred in one (or two or three) of those areas. These three agents of change I call the Law of the Few, the Stickiness Factor, and the Power of Context.”
In contrast to a measles epidemic, the AIDS epidemic illustrates a more complex set of tipping point circumstances:
1) The Law of the Few—an epidemic starts with only a very limited number of people, in this case 1 Gaetan Dugas who transmitted an infectious agent
2) The Stickiness Factor—the contagiousness of the infectious agent; AIDS is highly contagious
3) The Power of Context—the environment in which the infectious agent is operating; the transient nature of Dugas’ context provided him the opportunity of non-committal sexcapades literally throughout the world. The means of “protected sex,” a phrase absent from Patient Zero’s vernacular, intimated a birth control option—something the flight attendant would not have imagined as a packing necessity, so to speak.
Epidemic Agents Of Change
- Law of the few – function of the people who transmit infectious agents
- Stickiness Factor – the infectious agent itself
- Power of Context – the environment in which the infectious agent is operating.
Social Epidemic Of School Shootings
The same three rules govern the social epidemic of school shootings.
1) The Law of the Few—the Columbine High School massacre, though not the first school shooting in history, is nonetheless School Shooting Zero.
2) The Stickiness Factor—the contagious nature of school shootings results from its allure to disaffected youth; In the case of Columbine, two high school boys, outcasts, misfits, loners, bullied by the popular kids, and ignored by the teachers, rise up against the status quo.
Don’t doubt the sweeping appeal of this message. It is evidenced by Hollywood’s pervasive use of the theme—every Cady Heron can be popular just by being her awkward self while every Regina George gets hit by a bus; every Rudy can play football; every Cinderella Andie get Prince Blane; every Duckie ends up with a hot chic; all Hoosiers make the state finals, and every lanky slacker becomes a karate champion.
Who does this not stick to? It’s inspirational thinking of these films.
3) The Power of Context—in the years surrounding 1999, multiple contextual factors existed to create the perfect storm. However, none were as pervasive as the mainstream media’s obsession with crime, and more importantly, their glorification of violent crime. Especially CNN.
Power Of Context: CNN Battling Competition
Without the media glorification of Columbine, the epidemic’s heightened contagion, the stickiness factor, would have never spread.
CNN’s insatiable desire for ratings (and other media outlets to a much lesser degree) via sensational reporting turned Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold into poster boys for disaffected youth everywhere—and alienated teenagers exist in every high school in America. The popular theme of movies became real life drama incessantly replayed as “ breaking news.”
CNN’s increasing sensationalism of violence during this period corresponded to the network’s 16 year run as the only 24/7 news channel (1980-1996). Then, in 1996 both Fox News and MSNBC launched 24/7 cable news channels.
Up until 1996 (16 years!) CNN had gone relatively unchallenged from a news standpoint. One can only imagine how CNN’s obsessions with crime escalated when “news” competition emerged in 1996.
Every detail imaginable that remotely related to the Columbine shooters and the horrific shooting event itself were reported. Nothing about Eric, Dylan, and their shooting spree was hidden from the American public.
Power of Context: Coming Of Age Of The Internet
Another contextual factor aiding the tipping point phenomenon had to do with the coming of age of the Internet, though its role in society was certainly miniscule compared to the Internet today. Estimates suggest that in 1993 the Internet carried only 1% of the information in telecommunication. However, by the year 2000 this figure had grown to 51%. By the year 2007 more than 97% of all information was telecommunicated over the Internet.
During this period of exceptional technological growth, most kids learned how to use the Internet long before their parents knew exactly what it was. The Internet gave teenagers access to instant messaging, blogs, pictures, endless interviews, debate, and information.
The mainstream media glorification of the Columbine shooters came at a perfect time for the violence to disseminate broadly and effectively. It spread in much the same way as a deadly virus—the infectious agent. Virus cells are unlike normal cells. Their ability to multiply depends on being within the living cells of a host. And almost always, virus cells have a detrimental effect upon their host.
No one would have ever dreamed of the death, pain, and sadness caused by the irresponsible behavior of Gaetan Dugas—the carrier and disseminator of a viral auto-immune agent. Likewise, no one would have ever dreamed of the death and sadness caused by the irresponsible reporting of mainstream media, especially CNN—the carrier and disseminator of a viral impression.
What About School Shooters Zero?
As in any epidemic, a diligent search must be made for Patient Zero. Where did the virus come from? How did it originate? How did the viral agent attach to a host? Can it spread? How does it spread? How can its spread be prevented?
In the annals of Columbine shooter history, a person does not need to look far to find how the virus evolved—the Hollywood glamorization of violence. Without a doubt Hollywood had the single largest influence on School Shooters Zero. And the irony, oh the irony…
Hollywood Glamorization Of Violence
Two teenage boys obsessed with first shooter video games and the 1994 American film Natural Born Killers. A film starring Cheers’ Woody can’t be that big of a deal, right?
The 1994 American Film Natural Born Killers, categorized as a “satirical black comedy crime film,” was critically condemned for being too violent and graphic. From a personal viewpoint, it’s the only rented movie that I turned off after 5 minutes because of the sickening violence. Millennials need to understand the weight of this statement.
The movie Natural Born Killers played on the same disaffected youth heartstrings of the movies mentioned earlier. A down and out deliveryman and the daughter of an abusive father fall in love at first sight. They escape their horrible worlds, run away together, and begin their killing spree. A normal couple right?
Together they violently and graphically kill any and every one who they deemed unfit to live. Sound familiar? Particularly those who dared to bully, ostracize, criticize, or marginalize them. Glorified by the mainstream media, the couple become superstars.
Columbine Shooters’ Obsessive Identification With NBK
The Columbine friends were obsessed with this endearing 1994 American film. Obsessed to the point that they used the film’s acronym, NBK, as a code in their home videos and journals.
The influence that Natural Born Killers had on these teenagers cannot be overstated. It gave them the idea, the playbook, the knowledge that other people felt exactly like they did. And the vindication would be oh so sweet. To top it off, superstars! Being superstars would be a dream come true.
Ten days and 1 year prior to the shooting, Columbine shooter Eric Harris wrote in a journal
“When I go NBK and people say things like “Oh, it was so tragic,” or “oh he is crazy!” or “It was so bloody”, just because your mommy and daddy told you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a f***ucking law of nature? Wrong, only science and math are true, everything, and I mean every f***ucking thing else is Man made. Before I leave this worthless place, I will kill whoever I deem unfit for anything at all, especially life.”
In another journal entry, Harris also referred to April 20 as “the holy April morning of NBK.”
Klebold wrote in his journal “I’m stuck in humanity. Maybe going NBK w. Eric is the way to break free“.
During one of the “Basement Tapes” found in Harris and Klebold’s homes, the future mass murderers mention how Hollywood will want to adapt their life story. Then they debate on who will direct the film. Will it be Steven Spielberg? Or will it be Quentin Tarantino who wrote the original screenplay upon which the film Natural Born Killers is based.
No one knows exactly how a virus evolves. Virus cells are unlike normal cells. Natural Born Killers offended the senses of many, unlike any movie before it. These abnormal organisms can only reproduce in the cells of a host.
More NBK Influence
Natural Born Killers also inspired the much less publicized and less media glorified 1997 Heath High School shooter, 14-year old Michael Carneal. (14!) Carneal shot at Christians praying by the flagpole. That answers why CNN did not bother to report it.
In addition to the Natural Born Killers’ film, this pubescent shooter was greatly influenced by the Stephen King book Rage published in 1977. At the time of the shooting, a copy of the novel was found in Carneal’s locker.
After the shooting, King requested his publisher to allow the book to go out of print, because he feared that it might serve as inspiration for additional violent attacks of this nature. It’s admirable that Stephen King recognized the disturbing influence that violent and graphic media could have on a mind that is not fully mature. King didn’t kneejerk react and blame guns, but took personal action against one of his own books.
The Stickiness Factor Of Harris and Klebold
Since the 1999 tragedy, most all other school shooters admit a fascination with the Columbine school shooters Harris and Klebold—School Shooters Zero. Not only have these subsequent shooters (and would-be shooters) been enamored with the actions of the NBK teens, but they also formulated their own plans after the Columbine attacks.
School Shootings 22 Months After Columbine
In the Afterword of his 2002 book Gladwell writes: The school massacre at Columbine High in Littleton, CO, happened on April 20, 1999. In the 22 months that followed, there were nineteen separate incidents of school violence across the US—ten of them foiled, fortunately, before anyone got hurt—each patterned, almost eerily, on the Columbine shootings. Seth Trickey, a 7th grader in Fort Gibson, OK …in Dec of 1999, was so obsessed with the Columbine shootings that before the incident he was receiving psychological counseling. A 17 year old in Millbrae, CA, was arrested after threatening to “do a Columbine” at his school. Police found an arsenal of 15 guns and rifles in his home. Joseph DeGuzman, in Cupertino, CA, planned an attack on his school in January of 2001, and later told police that the Columbine gunsmen were “the only thing that’s real.” Three boys were arrested in Kansas the following month, and police found bomb-making materials, rifles, and ammunition in their homes, including three black trench coats just like the coats worn by the Columbine gunmen. Two days later, in Fort Collins, Colorado, police found another cache of ammunition and guns. The boys involved had been overheard plotting to “redo Columbine.”
School Shootings Between 1999-2008
In 2009 John Jay College of Criminal Justice sociologist Ralph Larken reported that the Columbine shooters “established a script for subsequent school shootings.” In eight of twelve major school shootings in the United States between 1999-2008, Larkin found that “the shooters made explicit reference to Harris and Klebold.” Larkin concluded: “Harris and Klebold committed their rampage shooting as an overtly political act in the name of oppressed students victimized by their peers. Numerous post-Columbine rampage shooters referred directly to Columbine as their inspiration; others attempted to supersede the Columbine shootings in body count. … The Columbine shootings redefined such acts not merely as revenge but as a means of protest of bullying, intimidation, social isolation, and public rituals of humiliation.”
School Shootings 2014 Report
By 2014, ABC News presented a report of “at least 17 attacks and another 36 alleged plots or serious threats against schools since the assault on Columbine High School that can be tied to the 1999 massacre.” Ties to the 1999 fury include everything from online research of the Columbine shooting to planned shootings commemorating the anniversary of Columbine.
Not Part Of A Larger Wave Of Violence
Gladwell’s summary of school shootings as social epidemics: “In the press, this wave of shootings and would-be shootings has sometimes been portrayed as part of a larger wave of violence. But that’s not true: In 1992-93, there were 54 violent deaths on public-school campuses around the US. In 2000, there were 16. The Columbine wave happened in a period when violence among students was down, not up. Much attention has also been paid to the social circumstances of the children involved in these incidents. Andy Williams was a lonely and often bullied boy, the produce of divorce and neglect. Time magazine summed up his world as a place where “getting stoned on super strong weed like ‘bubblegum chronic’ is for some a daily deed and where ditching school to rub shoulders with the Aryan Brothers gang in the skate park is an unexceptional life choice.” But to have kids growing up in disaffection and loneliness is hardly a new development. Millions of kids who grow up just as emotionally impoverished as Andy Williams don’t walk into their school one morning and start shooting. The difference is Columbine. Andy Williams was infected by the example of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.” (emphasis mine)
The difference is Columbine—Columbine was the tipping point.
Andy Williams was infected by the viral behavior of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. As were so many others.
It’s likely Nikolas Cruz was infected by Columbine as well.
What Triggered The Social Epidemic Of School Shootings?
School Shooters Zero. Columbine happened.
The infectious agent of the Columbine killers happened.
The Law of the Few—2 school shooters influenced by the glamorized violence of Hollywood
The Stickiness Factor—appeal to disaffected youth
The Power of Context—the coming of age of the internet played a small part, but by and large the epidemic spread through the incessant sensationalized reporting of CNN and other mainstream media channels without which it would have been impossible for the disease to stick.
The NBK Irony Regarding the Mainstream Media
To appreciate the irony of the mainstream media’s incessant coverage, repetitive nit-picking, and sensational 24/7 commentary on the Columbine shooters requires knowing a little about the original NBK. And Oliver Stone’s own observations of the mainstream media at the time.
As stated earlier, the film Natural Born Killers tells the story of two people from dysfunctional families who become lovers and mass murderers—and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media. Just like the Columbine shooters were irresonsbly glorified by the mass media. Especially CNN.
Originally, Oliver Stone envisioned Natural Born Killers as an action film complete with “Go ahead. Make my day” and “I’ll be back” one-liners.
However, within the societal context of the project’s development, Stone had his own tipping point. During this time the following incidents took place:
- the 1994 high profile trials of O. J Simpson;
- the 1994 high-profile case of the Menendez brothers;
- the 1994 ice skating champion Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan incident;
- the 1991 arrest tape of Rodney King;
- the 1992 Los Angeles riots; and
- the 1993 siege and tragedy of the Branch Davidian sect.
NBK – Oliver Stone’s Satirical Critique of the Mainstream Media
As Stone watched each of these events unfold, he came to realize that the mainstream media was heavily involved in the outcome of all of these cases. And he realized that the mainstream media had become an all-pervasive entity which marketed violence and suffering for the good of ratings. Therefore, he changed the fundamental nature of the project from a simple action film to a satirical critique of the mainstream media.Stone’s direction of Natural Born Killers found inspiration from the film Bonnie and Clyde. Both movies belong to the “road film” genre in which the main characters leave home and the journey alters the perspective from their everyday lives. While Bonnie and Clyde operated against their own Depression era context, NBK’s Mickey and Mallory try to free America from the “overarching conventions which influence the common masses, primarily the media.”
Roger Stone used the Natural Born Killers’ characters, Mickey and Mallory, to try and free American from the overarching conventions which influence the common masses, primarily the media.
The attack on the media goes full throttle until it ends with the mass media being destroyed, symbolically portrayed by the couple viciously murdering the media character Wayne Gale. After the “media” is killed, the couple successfully escapes (again) to live a relatively “normal” life.
Oliver Stone himself said “In its own way, Natural Born Killers is ultimately a very optimistic film about the future. It’s about freedom, and the ability of every human being to get it.”
Obviously, the NBK director’s “killing” of the corrupt and dishonest mainstream media represents a path back to our most basic of freedoms—the freedom to think for ourselves.
Obviously, the NBK director’s “killing” of the corrupt and dishonest mainstream media represents a path back to our most basic of freedoms—the freedom to think for ourselves.
And In 2018 The CNN Irresponsibility Continues…
CNN’s Irresponsible Glorification Of The Majory Stoneman Douglas Tragedy And Its Survivors
If only CNN and the other mainstream media would stop at the glorification of crime.
In the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, the fake news network has done a seeming 180 to glorifying the victims and survivors. But not in a good way. They are irresponsibly using inexperienced teenagers to press the biased news agency’s own leftist agenda and attack on America’s Constitutional freedoms.
In regard to the media and the latest school shooting in Maryland on March 20, 2018, Rush Limbaugh said “Now, I’m gonna tell you what. If the media could do one thing right here, they would not mention the shooter’s name at all, they would not give the shooter any publicity whatsoever, but they would make damn certain the world knows how he was stopped. It wasn’t a gun-free zone. It wasn’t a student march. It wasn’t anything other than an armed security agent in the school known as a school resource officer.”
In other words, no glorification of the crime or criminals!
And let other would-be school shooters take note that at this school the security officer actually took action—so if you are thinking about shooting up a school, beware of ending up dead. Definitely more motivating than a failed Hussein O “Promise Program” that lets criminals run amok in schools.
A World Ruled By Contagious Teenage Messages
Once again from the Afterword of The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes these prophetic words: “What is now obvious to me—but was not at the time I wrote The Tipping Point—is that we are about to enter the age of word of mouth, and that, paradoxically, all of the sophistication and wizardry and limitless access to information of the New Economy is going to lead us to rely more and more on very primitive kinds of social contacts. Relying on the Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen in our life is the way we deal with the complexity of the modern world.”
In context, Gladwell is writing about the ever increasing societal change (especially in 2002) of the rise of isolation, particularly among adolescents. His statement’s bleak outlook implies that isolated teens will rely on other isolated teens for social contacts. For their ideas and perspectives on the world. Including the NBK perspectives.
“It is a mistake to try to make sense of these kinds of actions by blaming influences of the outside world—in terms of broader trends of violence and social breakdown. These are epidemics in isolation: they follow a mysterious, internal script that makes sense only in the closed world that teenagers inhabit.”
“It’s just that it’s important to realize that sometimes epidemic behavior among children does not have an identifiable and rational cause: the kids get sick because other kids got sick. The post-Columbine outbreak of school shootings is, in this sense, no different. It is happening because Columbine happened, and because ritualized, dramatic, self-destructive behavior among teenagers—whether it involves suicide, smoking, taking a gun to school …has extraordinary contagious power.”
Note Gladwell says no identifiable cause for “epidemic behavior.” Not what leads to it in the first place which has been the filth of Hollywood imposed on American culture, the glamorization of violence. And the irresponsibility of mainstream media, glorification of crime.
“My sense is that the way adolescent society has evolved in recent years has increased the potential for this kind of isolation. We have given teens more money, so they can construct their own social and material worlds among themselves—and less time in the company of adults. We have given them e-mail and beepers and, most of all, cellular phones, so that they can fill in all the dead spots in their day—dead spots that might once have been filled with the voices of adults—with the voices of their peers. That is a world ruled by the logic of word of mouth, by the contagious messages that teens pass among themselves. Columbine is now the most prominent epidemic of isolation among teenagers. It will not be the last.”
In 2018, the dead spots are filled with even greater vile—the utter filth and immorality of Hollywood (who now think they are America’s moral compass) and fake news.
Is There A Treatment For This Epidemic?
Multiple things contributed to the otherwise stoppable Cruz case. The FBI dropped the ball. The local sheriff’s office and school administrators had sold out their roles as disciplinarians and teachers of America’s youth for government money, all courtesy of yet another careless, racism feigning, and horrific Obama Administration Loser policy, the Promise Program..
But when things seem most grim, there is always hope.
Take the case of HIV/AIDS. When this disease first came into public awareness, a diagnosis was the same as receiving a death sentence. Today medications can control the progression of the disease. Infected persons now have a near normal life expectancy. And hopefully, one day a researcher will make the breakthrough discovery that provides an effective vaccine and/or cure.
This provides hope for the epidemic of school shooters.
Treatment for HIV consists of combinations, or cocktails, of medications. The multiple drugs each play a role in controlling the various disease symptoms and preventing infections to which the body is more susceptible.
The school shooter epidemic needs a similar approach. Not one pill, but a cocktail of socially responsible medications to control symptoms and equally important, to prevent infections.
Unfortunately Hollywood’s glamorization of violence and all things lewd is unlikely to cease in our lifetime, though certainly box office numbers are currently at an all time low. (Funny how life has a way of correcting itself.)
Hollywood has inserted its total depravity—immorality, sexual promiscuity, violence, and lack of respect and dignity for human beings into mainstream society. America is literally saturated with the filth of Hollywood. Is there any hope they would ever change? It’s doubtful the excrement of Hollywood will ever change.
But former fans who previously watched those who smut is no longer bearable can change. We can choose not to support and/or watch.
In an article from Psychology Today the author writes, “One key mechanism of violence is imitation, or copying a model’s behavior. According to social learning theory, people learn aggressive and violent behaviors the same way they learn other social behaviors—by direct experience and by imitating the behaviors they observe others perform.”
“And according to social cognitive theory, observers don’t just imitate the specific behaviors they observe. They also make cognitive inferences based on their observations. These inferences lead to more general patterns of behavior.”
If you’re a parent, for the sake of your child, forbid anything below a PG rating. Suggest other activities. Hollywood is a cesspool and should NOT be allowed to put their putrid ideas in your child’s mind.
Fortunately, some have already called out disease proliferation caused by the mainstream media’s glorification of school shootings.
From the same PT article, “The infectious nature of criminal behavior among teens needs to be studied. Research has clearly demonstrated that media coverage of suicides may increase copycat behavior among adolescents for about a two-week period, and there is some evidence to support the same for mass shootings.”
Evidence supports that media coverage of mass shootings cause copycat behavior. CNN, what have you done?
The evidence is so convincing that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), along with others, developed guidelines for media coverage of suicides to prevent copycat phenomena. They also produced Recommendations for Reporting on Mass Shootings, including instruction to media outlets to avoid reporting that increases misunderstanding and prejudice of mental illness, and to include information about treatment and prevention.
At least someone has developed one part of the school shooter cocktail. Although it’s a sad day when the media requires guidelines on responsible reporting. But that is where we are.
Even more dismal is Hollywood and Mainstream Media’s refusal to act responsibly or to even acknowledge the damage they have done to countless impressionable youth.