9th March 2001

Students Who Shoot Students: the 3 “R”s: Reading, w’Riting & Rampaging!

posted in `Roids |

Lloyd Kaufman looks at the three “R”s: Reading, w’Riting & Rampaging!
By Lloyd Kaufman with Adam Jahnke

Once again, American schoolchildren are giving postal workers a run for their money as the most feared strata of society. Recent school shootings in San Diego and Pennsylvania have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Columbine shootings of ’99 have cast a mighty big shadow. In fact, these things seem to be happening with such regularity now that schools should just schedule “Massacre” into 4th period, right after study hall. The original Class of Nuke ‘Em High (1986) eerily predicted just such a future world, with students roaming the hallways with awesome firepower at their disposal. Years later, our gift of prophecy turned to commentary as the upcoming Citizen Toxie opens with a sequence inspired by the Columbine High School massacre, showing the Diaper Mafia shooting up a school full of “special” students”[1]. We knew when we were writing this sequence that we were satirizing a situation that would continue to have resonance, even factoring in the unavoidable delay between production and the movie’s release. But we certainly didn’t think that school shootings were about to become something like a regular event, kind of like a bloodier version of the Olympics.

Troma’s appalled at how the mass media
ceaselessly exploits school massacres
to boost ratings!

Whenever one of these shootings takes place, the news media immediately launches their time-tested, three-pronged assault that passes for unbiased coverage. First, they swoop down on the school itself, trotting out all the kids that were lucky enough not to take a bullet to talk about the carnage they witnessed. These interviews are like watching audition tapes for a remake of Old Yeller, with all these brats struggling to remember the names of the people who got shot and pretending to cry as if they had the first fucking clue who they were in the first place. Next stop on the media’s whistle-stop tour of exploitation is the shooter’s house, where they can shove cameras into the faces of the guilt-ridden parents and get plenty of close-ups of the scotch-taped shoebox where dad kept his .45. A good example of this came recently when a college student (the son of a big-shot HBO director) plowed his car into a crowd of pedestrians, killing four. Apparently once you graduate high school, you advance to more complex killing tools like automobiles. The TV folks wasted no time getting mom to blubber for the cameras while she tried to figure out where things went wrong. Then, just as their audience is starting to get sick of the story, the media starts holding their round-table debates on how such a thing could have happened. This is the part that musicians and filmmakers like because they get a bunch of free publicity as their work is blamed for the moral turpitude of American youth.

I believe the children are our future
(albeit violent, nasty & short).

I’d like to suggest that maybe the media’s creating these junior bullet factories themselves. Schools are overcrowded and creating an environment where kids do not receive individual attention. A lot of schools these days even require uniforms, just to put a visual stamp on their goal of total conformity. These kids have a guaranteed ticket to fame just by picking up a gun (since there seems to be at least one in every American household) and blasting a path through their cafeteria. If these kids were genuinely distraught over something, wouldn’t they suck down the last bullet themselves? These kids want to be captured. They want to lift themselves out of the mass of anonymity they’re stuck in. This Charles Andrew Williams kid in San Diego was bragging about out-doing Columbine[2]. He did his best and now he’s getting major face-time during the primetime news. You think maybe Charlie knew he was going to get on TV when he loaded that gun? I almost feel sorry for the girl who shot up the Catholic school in Pennsylvania. She struck a blow for her gender, becoming the first gyno-American to borrow one of daddy’s pistols for a shootin’ spree. Some might suggest that this pint-size Calamity Jane needs a media advisor. Since she didn’t kill anyone and she came out far too quickly after Charlie used his schoolmates for target practice, she’s not reaping the publicity her male counterparts have. But the truth is that even if she’d laid low half a dozen of her schoolmates, she wouldn’t be elevated into the murderer’s hall of fame. Women are treated as second-class citizens in this country and even mass-murdering gyno-Americans don’t receive the same respect as mass-murdering men.

Since the very beginning, Troma has
been concerned with teen violence

Maybe…just maybe…these kids wouldn’t be so quick to pick up a gun if they weren’t guaranteed to get their name and face on every TV in the country. Maybe if the media showed a little restraint and withheld the kid’s name and blacked out his face, kids would have one less reason to shoot up their classmates. It’s pretty well established by now that the Constitution is about to be rewritten to guarantee every American citizen life, liberty, and the pursuit of celebrity. Everybody in this country wants to be famous and kids are learning that it’s pretty fucking easy to get that way. Maybe you don’t want to get as involved as Charles Andrew Williams. Maybe your parents are among the half-dozen people in this country who don’t own firearms. Maybe you’re not white, which apparently precludes you from going on a shooting rampage in your school[3]. Not to worry. All you need to do to get on TV is wait for one of your classmates to blow a fuse, then barge in front of a camera with a freshly sliced red onion and squeeze out a few tears over the tragic loss of whatshisname with the acne who got blown away while he was in the can[4].

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anything is likely to change anytime soon. Kids want to be on TV, TV wants to put kids on the air, and there just aren’t enough Real World shows to accommodate them all. So far, the only real solution anyone has been able to propose to ending these shootings is enforcing a clampdown on imagination. Instead of looking for the root of the problem within, it’s easier to point out manifestations of the problem without. So if you hear a teenager talking about guns, knives or bombs, you’d better have them arrested immediately. If you see some kids playing Cowboys and Indians[5] with cap guns, call the FBI. And I can guarantee that if Citizen Toxie was going to be distributed by any major Hollywood studio, instead of writing this essay right now I would be in the studio head’s office, being told that the movie’s release was being indefinitely postponed to put some “distance” between the movie and the shootings, if not having the entire Diaper Mafia sequence cut out. The New York Times reported on March 9, 2001, that the Pennsylvania girl decorated her room with posters of Christ and Martin Luther King and enjoyed biographies of Harriet Tubman. It seems pretty clear that it’s Christ, Martin Luther King, and biographies of Harriet Tubman that send these kids over the edge, not Troma movies or Marilyn Manson. If we’re only going to look for the easy targets, Christ and King are as good as any[6]. They’re certainly much easier to pin the blame on than neglectful parents or the ease with which kids get their hands on firearms or the overcrowded, conformist school system. Why not blame the Jews? Jews are always a popular scapegoat. Big Bill Clinton recently wrote an editorial for The New York Times in which he claimed that he was pressured into pardoning billionaire fugitive Marc Rich[7] by Israeli prime minister Barak and the cabal of wealthy American Jews. So go ahead kids! If it’s a good enough excuse for a former president of the United States, it’s good enough for you. And what better Jew for you to blame than yours truly? That’ll really drive the media wild. They’ll be able to tackle anti-Semitism and violent entertainment in one fell swoop. So go ahead, you bastards! Blame me! Come and get me!

1: “Special students” is press-release-speak for “retarded kids”.

2: Now that the kid has drawn first blood, the media has elevated him to the prestigious Three Name Club like Lee Harvey Oswald, Mark David Chapman or Anthony Michael Hall.

3: Non-white people, however, often make ideal targets for their gloryhound classmates (see the Columbine massacre). They may wish to practice duck-and-cover techniques so they can take a bullet and survive, ensuring plenty of hospital-bed interviews on Oprah and Ricki Lake.

4: Let’s not neglect to point out the symbolic irony here: the bathroom is a place for boys to piss and jerk-off, in other words, to handle their love guns. The shooter blows a load of his own but from a very different pistol. Is there a phallic connection here? This adolescent stroking of explosive barrels should be further developed and investigated by psychologists and sociologists. Also I would like to take a moment to point out the shortcomings of American journalism. A group of boys get shot while they’re in the can and nobody says exactly what they were doing! Were they pissing, playing with themselves, pinching a loaf? Did one of the students drop a nasty load and not even offer a courtesy flush? (Which might be a mitigating circumstance for the shooter.) These are important details that should be addressed! Enquiring minds want to know!

5: Sorry, I mean Frontierspeople and Native-Americans.

6: By the way, besides directing episodes of “The Sopranos” and “Ally McBeal”, the dad of the Santa Barbara kid who slaughtered folks with his car was second assistant director on E.T. Obviously prolonged exposure to Steven Spielberg films precipitated this boy’s road rage.

7:And ex-husband of Troma songbird Denise Rich, whose vocal stylings can be enjoyed in Plutonium Baby.

There is currently one response to “Students Who Shoot Students: the 3 “R”s: Reading, w’Riting & Rampaging!”

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  1. 1 On April 24th, 2007, Chad said:

    Lloyd I said it once I’ll say it again. You’re a fucking genius.

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