I Dress in Black

12Mar09

I dress in black most of the time. I enjoy watching crappy and not so crappy horror movies. The music I listen to is often hard, heavy, or dark. My boots are high and heavy. My literature is dark and heavy. I read comics. I collect comics. I play video games. Violent video games. At some point I was even part of the production of a violent video game.

And yet, I have not fired a real gun yet. I have not held a real gun in my hands and while I am curious on how it feels to fire a gun at a wooden target I have never felt the urge to hurt people with one. I do enjoy playing games, though, in which my character roams futuristic settings and frags every character passing by.

While I find some horror and splatter movies hilariously funny I would never go out and re-enact a scene I have seen. I do not want to know how it looks, smells and sounds to skin, shoot or gut someone.

While the comic books I read range from immensely cute to rather violent I have never wanted to be a superhero with superpowers who can snap a grown man’s arm in two with the subtle twist of my wrist. I have never wanted to beat up a large mass of people simply because I can.

I offer old ladies a seat on the bus, I help handicapped people get on the train, I have a soft spot for children and cannot even harm a spider without feeling guilty. I say “please” and “thank you” and pardon myself when bumping into someone on the street. I respect others – no matter if I agree or disagree with them (in general, in detail, it does not matter).

I was the outsider at school. Being interested in comics and RPGs and other stuff the others found ridiculous, moved me to the very edge of the “cool-range”.Some teachers loved me, some hated my guts. Tortured me, punished me whenever they had the chance to.

I could have snapped back then. If I did not have close friends, confidants, a family that supported the notion of being oneself and not being ashamed of that and professors who believed in me I could have snapped. If I had not been told about all the different shades of gray and how to take everything with a grain of salt I might have snapped. If my upbringing had included guns and a very loose handling of them it would have been easy for me to snap. I didn’t. I had support, proper education and the possibility to find comfort in my favorite music, books and games.

I am now 30, dress in black most of the time and enjoy those video nights with my friends and incredibly genius partner in crime, when we watch the most stupid horror movies. I am writing my thesis about one of the more violent graphic novels. I still run around in futuristic settings and aim with ridiculous guns at my opponents, whenever I find the time, which is rare. I work full time during the week, indulge in my hobbies on the weekend. I pay my taxes. I vote. I did not snap.

Even though you think I am the kind of person who would.

(A collection of thoughts about the recent events in Germany where a 17-year old boy entered his school with his father’s gun and shot 15 people, then committed suicide.)

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9 Responses to “I Dress in Black”

  1. Du sprichst mir aus der seele… Danke!

  2. A very calm, reflected collections of thoughts on the matter, to which I can oly say the same as Cliff did above.

    I currently wonder about writing a blog entry which would much sharper, while clearly emphasizing that my sympathies and condolations are with the victims and their families and friends… yet the entire matter is frustrating, for what can be said what has not been said before? Currently, conservative politicians again call for the prohibition of ‘Killer Games’ etc. etc., which so obviously is an effort to deny the real societal reasons for persons snapping, breaking, and as a result hurting others, and to focus the public’s attention on some scapegoat field. Yesterday, the german Phoenix channel reran an excellent documentation about the events in Erfurt, Germany, some years ago, and about the effort of some pupils which had organized themselves to bring such deeper, real reasons to hte public’s attention. There also was mentioned a local politician, who after a while declared in his eyes the shooter was just “evil”, and that he was against all this asking “why” since in the end, this would lead him to himself and question his own responsibility. A girl from this pupil’s organization commented that this exactly was the point he wnated to avoid (and considerung how he openly said it himself, how cynical can one get?). This is what the entire public and societal reaction is about… don’t confront the real reasons, the reasons everybody is involved in, blame or ban some stuff and return to normal (I sometimes wonder what would happen then – would there be no shootings anymore? Would such people just quietly hang themselves somewhere? Would everybody prefer that?)

  3. Social psych has too little empirical data to work with for people to come up with these bizarre stereotypes of dangerous people. The only study that really supports observing violence as a causal factor was Bandura’s Bobo dolls, and since then a series of assumptions have been made about how teen violence is always caused by exposure.

    What about: Defensive violence(Perpetrated against bullies), Violence under duress, Domestic troubles, Revenge, Drug abuse, Gang Violence…

    The list goes on and on.

    The fact is that there are a lot more disenfranchised teenagers out there who get by with sarcasm and don’t put any more thought into a classroom rampage than they do to their study of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

    My 2 cents. Now we have 6!

  4. 4 Markus

    I’m under the impression that almost everybody I speak to seems perfectly able to comprehend the various factors contributing to such a tragedy, with violent videogames being one of the least important ones. Still, political reaction once again fails miserably to meet the requirements of reality and is just looking for the easy way out. An unacceptable situation.

    This blog entry by makes a far better point than I could have (without even talking about videogames):
    http://www.graubrotblog.de/2009/03/14/unfassbar/

  5. @Sathom: I have two longer drafts that discuss the recent happenings in more detail but am unsure if it makes sense to post them. I am trying to put the focus on the real problem – how politicians are trying to close their eyes to the actual problem and refuse to do something about it. Instead, they randomly pick scapegoats they can put the blame on. In the end, society is happy that they have a scapegoat and are not held responsible, while more and more tragedies will happen.

    @Ambrose: I haven’t heard of the Bobo dolls before and did some research. Thank you for mentioning them.
    Society seems to need those stereotypes to feel less responsible about what is happening. People need them to have something to put their blame on rather than themselves.
    I wonder why no one finds it more hazardous for a troubled teenager that there are 16 guns available in the household, which he knows of and which he has fired himself, together with his father.
    The more cents, the better. 😉

    @Markus: It used to be rock music, horror movies, television – now they’ve found something else that is responsible for all the troubled teenagers. Not the parents, not the classmates, not society…
    I wonder what will be next.

  6. 6 Sathom

    @berzerkraccoon: I’m not sure either, since what I have to say should be obvious to anyone with a clear mind anyway, while the meainstream media’s response is a bit more reflected as it used to be, but not much, and the game prohibiters still are voicing their mind loudly. I’m not sure if I can succeed in putting the focus on what I feel is the real problem or say anything new to counter societal hypocrisy (generally, my point’s the same you make about scapegoats and avoiding the real problem). But I’ll try. I still have to add some research and links, and will send a trackback once it’s online.

  7. 7 tryphina

    very good and deep blog post. thank you! i can totally relate to your thoughts.


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