"You never know when those quiet ones will snap."
So says my health/gym teacher in high school after a bad moment where my clumsiness resulted in hitting a girl who was too busy singing to Britney Spears in the face with a basketball during a drill. It wasn't intentional, I promise.
At fifteen, I was already social pariah #1, but after that, even more so. There'd already been a few school shootings in the previous months and then Columbine had happened a week ago. I'd already been to the guidance office for some suspect cuts and bruises and disturbing subject matter in my artwork.
Pale kids like me who wore ball chains and necklaces with Led Zeppelin motifs, took honors classes, had no friends and listened to doomy music were suddenly potential homisuicidal maniacs waiting to have their Carrie moment.
That kind of paranoia permeated the hallways of the already volatile incubator of high school, fueled by parental anxiety, the inevitable rumor mill, absurd Principal Bureaucrats, and media hype. It got so unbearable that I dropped out to catch up on classes via homeschooling for a year before transferring to the local big public high school where I could blend in and get lost, considering that the powers that be were far more concerned about the potheads and the guys with the trenchcoats and heavy eyeliner. And obviously, I've never shot anyone. Most alienated youth haven't.
If it wasn't the Trenchcoat Mafia, it was Y2K and then it was 9/11. Conversations about too many guns and then not enough guns. I was a senior when 9/11 happened, and a whole new wave of fear and jingoism had swept through. The Egyptian kids who were Copt not Muslim got picked on really bad and suddenly those scary teenage metalheads who spent way too much time on the Internet and probably had the Anarchist's Cookbook on their hard drive didn't seem so bad and strange.
No one seemed to realize that Sikh turbans denoted a religion that has nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden. Khaled, who I sat next to in computer class (and whose dad owned the convenience store my dad delivered to) used to talk about going into the military to "blow shit up." I wonder where he is now.
So I read about these incidents that seem to grow more frequent, which have always seem to happen when crackers read too much Ayn Rand and toxic ideology on both sides and decide that the majority of people are stupid and need to be killed. Since they're usually dudes, there's usually some kind of testosterone-driven music involved but that's besides the point.
But then we go off on these tangents to find a cause but it's way more complicated than that. That combination of mental illness, general jerkitude combined with ideology and musical taste that causes one to feel superior to the masses is a combination that can't be quantified.Domestic terrorism has been practiced on all sides as it is. I look at some of the people that I deal with and wonder if they'll come in with a gun and start mowing people down.
But the whole "music made him do it?" Vladimir Putin has probably tortured people and had them murdered and he's a big fan of ABBA. Kim Jong-il's kid likes Eric Clapton but probably prefers "Tears in Heaven" to Cream. Charles Manson blamed the Beatles. Whatever.
And now, the stakes just keep getting higher. The paranoia just keeps ratcheting upward among and about lefties and wingnuts and people who listen to "heavy metal." Considering that I've got some serious love for Jesus and loud music that probably doesn't bode well.
Despite a certain individual's claims that crosshairs are actually survey markers, at least even the trigger-happy crowd is appalled as well.
On a totally unrelated but not totally tangential note, I wonder what will happen when Glenn Beck and his ilk get wind of the taqwacore scene because what's more scary than power-chord-loving nonconformist Islamic teenagers?
(By the way, part of this was filmed in a punk house/performance space in my fair city in my part of town, and the novel on which this film is based is highly recommended.)