So, I have become obsessed with the case of Elliot Rodger’s day of retribution. For those of you who simply can’t keep your rampages straight, Mr. Rodger was the young man who killed seven people including himself in Isla vista, CA a couple of weeks ago. He claimed to have carried out the shootings because he was still a virgin at twenty two and felt that his status was unjust.
Recently, I have had little interest in these mass shootings. For one thing they have become shockingly common place. For another, the killers are always so deranged that I, not being a mental health expert, can’t begin to understand how they arrived at the conclusion to go through with their plans. Everyone always asks “how could this happen.” Everyone tries to assign blame for what happened. The conservatives blame a lack of discipline and religion, the liberals blame a lack of gun control and the intellectuals blame a lack of understanding.
The case of Mr. Rodger has brought about much discussion of misogyny and narcissism in our society. A lot of people are saying that Mr. Rodger saw women as objects and that he was completely without compassion for anyone. There are many angry rants on the internet lecturing the now dead maniac about the fact that the world didn’t owe him anything. Many people are blaming Hollywood and the LA culture for the shocking material values exhibited by Mr. Rogers in his videos and manifesto.
I read the entire manifesto and many an article about the case. I was certainly shocked by the fact that the cops had been to his house, interviewed him and decided for themselves that he wasn’t a danger to himself or others without ever consulting with a psychiatrist.
I have read a couple of famous lunatic manifestos in the past including The S.C.U.M Manifesto and The Uni-Bomber’s Manifesto. In The S.C.U.M Manifesto Valarie Solanas (the woman who shot Andy Warhol) argues that men are incomplete humans due to their y chromosomes. She also goes into great detail about the way men use woman in our society. She points out the irony of her inability to get a date and the fact that she makes her living as a prostitute. (See Louis CK fat lady rant.) I also skimmed the Uni-bomber’s manifesto, in which he argues that his terrorism was justified as it was for the greater good.
Both of these people were insane, but they were also kind of brilliant and they both had philosophies and agendas. Miss Solanas had a really rough life, she was miserably poor and rejected by every echelon of society, even the freaks at The Factory, which was Andy Warhol’s studio. Ted Kaczynski The Uni-bomber was a Harvard educated mathematician, who had cruel psychological experiments performed on him as a young adult. They were both obliviously very intelligent, extremely disturbed people who had had lives that I cannot imagine. They’re concern for the world around them, coupled with their medical conditions and rejection by the world they were trying to save must have made them lose their minds.
Elliot Rodger’s “manifesto” contains no core philosophy. It’s not a manifesto at all, just an autobiography. Elliot comes across as a vapid, uninformed child of privilege who has no concern or awareness whatsoever of the world around him. I wasn’t sure why I was so fascinated at first, but as I read I realized that, save for his psychosis, he reminded me of myself and many people I know especially on social media.
Elliot was born in the UK, but moved to the US at the age of five. He was the grandson of a famous photographer. The family always seems to have lived just above their means. Although both parents had lucrative film industry careers, the kids he grew up with always had more money than he did. I had a similar experience growing up. Both my parents worked, but we were lower middle class and we lived in a neighborhood that was upper middle class. In the summertime my classmates would go jaunting off to Europe while we went to the Wisconsin Dells. My parents thought that surrounding me with the best and brightest would make me aspire to be like them, instead I developed a terrible inferiority complex and so apparently did Elliot.
To make matters worse when he was a teenager his father lost everything he had making a documentary about celebrities and religion that no one saw. He actually had to stop paying child support for a while and Elliot and his mom and sister were forced into a rather ordinary apartment. (I bet you anything people will see the documentary now.)
Elliot was a terrible shy kid who found solace in World of Warcraft which is a very popular video game series. Even though I was never into video games when I was a kid I used to watch hours and hours of television every day. I liked my fictional friends so much better than I liked the few real friends I had. Those few friends were television junkies as well and we all bounded a bit over our favorite shows. The only people Elliott kept in touch with at all after he reached puberty were his World of Warcraft friends. How many of us prefer our online friends to our “real” friends? ” (Why there is a whole TV show about it). How many of us feel we can only be our true selves online to people who are virtual strangers?
When Elliot went to high school his peers began dating and he didn’t, this infuriated him. I also did not date in high school. Although it did not infuriate me to see others dating, it did give me a lot of anxiety about the future. I was not alone. A friend of mine actually chose his college based on the fact that the boy/girl ratio would be in his favor.
When Elliot got to college he began to dress very nicely in order to get people’s respect and admiration. He felt he had to do this as the other men his college all seemed to him to be tall, blond, white and athletic, while he was a short Eurasian. I’ve read alot about how sad it was that Elliot was so shallow and he needed to have more self esteem, but was he really wrong? It’s been my experience that guys like that do get more girls and it isn’t because if their acerbic wit or sensitivity. Elliot had no chance of being burly , so he chose to be fashionable. I’ve heard a lot of people say that he shouldn’t have cared what other people think, but aren’t we all kinda like that? I would guesstimate that ninety percent of our Facebook post are made to impress other people. When you post a movie you’ve seen are you doing it to promote the artists in the film, are you doing it to share something good with your friends or are you trying to impress everyone with what good taste you have? When you post pictures of a meal you ate are you promoting the chef or your sophistication? When you post your favorite music is it because you think it will make other people happy or is it to show how hip you are; I know what my answers would be.
While attending college Elliot decided that the only way he could get the attention of the blonde beauties he desired was to become a multi-millionaire and the only way he could accomplish this was to win the lottery. Certainly this is a ridiculously extreme notion and a solution only a crazy person would come up with. But, how many of us have told ourselves that we could have had something we wanted if only one circumstance in our lives had been different. I, for example always tell myself that if I were prettier I would have been more successful in every area of life. A friend of mine believes that if she had only attend college, her life would be a million times better . We are both oversimplifying of course. Life can throw a multitude of different hurdles at you, at an amazing speed at the last time you would ever expect it. There is some truth to what we think and telling ourselves we are victims helps to take the blame for our lack of success out of our hands.
Anyone who has ever played the lottery has done so because they wanted to get money for doing nothing. I play once a week. Although I don’t think I’ll win there is some level at which I think I deserve to win or I wouldn’t play. I don’t think I’m alone here.
Elliot read and believed the book The Secret which contains some absolutely ridiculous nonsense about the laws of attraction stating that if you just want something badly enough and believe you are worthy of it you will get it. It suggest that people who have nothing did not attract enough positive energy to themselves. This is a horrible arrogant and dangerous thing to believe as it would suggest people in third world countries, people who are mentally deficient people who are handicapped somehow brought it on themselves.
Fortunately, when it comes out of the mouth of Elliot Rodger, it sounds ridiculous. the thing is it also comes out of the mouths of some pretty famous people such as Oprah Winfrey and Jim Carrey. Mr Carrey discussed the laws of attraction when he was giving a commencement speech for a school he didn’t attend that was giving him a degree he didn’t earn. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to give validity to the ideas of people who are successful no matter what they are successful for. Oprah is certanly a charismatic person and no one knows how to use a their rubber face quite like Mr. Carrey, but these things hardly make them philosophers worth listening to.
Elliot says time and again that he feels it is unfair that he does not have a girlfriend when he does everything in his perception to be appealing to woman. I’ve read a lot of articles and posts about how deluded he was for thinking the world owed him anything.
Everyone was told “life is unfair” by their parents when they were little and everyone that I’ve ever met thinks that life should be fair, for them. I always used to ask my parents why they chose to bring people into a world that they knew wasn’t fair.
Our system of government in America is based on the idea that all men are created equal and capitalism itself is based on the Illusion of fairness.We are given one vote each. We are not legally allowed to discriminate based on race or sex. and we are led to believe that if we work hard we will be reward.
The truth is that big corporations and wealth individuals control congress and at the end of the day have much more than one vote, white men make more than anyone and cronyism, good looks and networking determine success as much as hard work.
In the months before his rampage Elliot keeps saying in his manifesto that he really doesn’t want to do it and that he will give the universe and the woman of Santa Barbara one more semester to put things right. He will try the lottery once more he will go walk around campus more often and buy nicer clothes, etc. How many of us have said something similar to this. Oh, we may not be marking time before a rampage. But, how many people say they’ll give an abusive mate a certain amount of time to start treating them with respect, how many actors or writers say they will leave their reels on YouTube an the script ideas on their website for a certain number of months before giving up and taking them down or firing there manager, or going back home. We all play this game with ourselves, its kind of frightening to see a killer doing it.
So what separates most of us from Elliot Rodger, besides the obvious mental health problems? I think “normal” people have more of an ability to compromise and lie to themselves. If a normal man couldn’t get hot chicks to sleep with him he would simply lower his standards and go after plain ones. Most of us just accept that what’s holding us back is what it is and there is nothing we can do about it so we focus on other things. Most of us also have the ability to comfort ourselves with other people’s misery. We are aware that there are people in the world who have it much worse than they do; we don’t do anything about it, but we are aware of it.
Most of us have the ability to laugh certain things off. I have been to Santa Barbara and it isn’t exactly chalked full of sensitive new aged guys. In fact there were quite a few pompous, over privileged assholes. But, go downtown on a Saturday night and you will see a bunch of big, strapping athletic men who are drunk off their asses. There is nothing more amusing than a grown man who can’t handle his booze .
Normal people have an amazing ability to tell themselves that things will get better when they probably won’t. Religious people tell themselves God will save them. Business people tell themselves success will save them and romantics tell themselves love will save them.
Intellectuals scoff at these things, but in actuality intellectuals are the worst ones because they delude themselves into thinking that their discussing these things will somehow make them better.
So instead of asking yourself how these things can happen you may want to ask yourself why they don’t happen more often?