Monday, April 20, 2009

Just Another Decade

Avoiding cable news is especially key today, as I'm certain there'll be plenty of choreographed anguish recalling the Columbine massacre, now ten years past.

What is it about corporate media that flattens and bleeds dry events like that psychotic rampage? I know that the standard script must be adhered to, looking for lessons in the wake of a murderous spree. We The Viewers should not form our own conclusions about Columbine, but merely plug into the official vibe and allow chatting faces do our feeling for us.

What happened a decade ago was well within the American character, complete with theatrical flourish, as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot videos and kept crazed journals describing their murder/suicide scenario. They fully expected to be remembered and dramatized, and they were absolutely correct. Despite all the Hows and Whys, Harris and Klebold were as American as it gets. I think this is understood more than is acknowledged, which explains the euphemisms and supposedly confused reactions.

Killing innocent people was the least of it. Happens everyday. As Michael Moore showed in "Bowling for Columbine," the US was at that moment slaughtering Serbian civilians (as well as Iraqis, though that was hidden in plain sight), only Bill Clinton didn't face down his victims in a library, nor took his own life. He murdered with impunity, congratulated by media elites and political allies. Clinton made Columbine look like a fender bender, yet it's Harris and Klebold who are the monsters, while Big Bill is considered by many to be one of the greatest presidents of modern times.

Then again, selective morality and general hypocrisy are also ingrained American features. So I guess everything evens out.

Here's the final part of Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," his dreamlike take on Columbine. Van Sant's slow, soft approach magnifies the horror in a way that a documentary cannot fully capture. America is a crazy place, and getting crazier. The cliché remains true: it's remarkable that this shit doesn't happen more often.