The Hunger Games Assassin

A tragedy occurred last Friday in Santa Barbara, CA. And per usual, rather than turning this into an opportunity to have a national discussion about issues like caring for the mentally disturbed and gun control (especially in this case, where the gunman, Elliot Rodger, has a known history of mental illness stretching back to his childhood, yet still had no trouble registering three guns), the media looks for someone to blame.

Conveniently enough for the media, Elliott Rodger is the son of the one of the second unit directors on The Hunger Games, Peter Rodger. So instead of even attempting intellectual analysis, we get this:

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Blaming Hollywood, particularly movies that feature any sort of violence, is the oldest trick in the book. In this case, it meshes so well with the “Blame the parents! He must have been raised wrong!” excuse that everyone goes to as a secondary means of blame (not to say there’s never any legitimacy in that argument, but we don’t know details here) that the sensationalist math was just too easy to compute: If the father played a part in creating a movie that contains violence, that MUST have played a part in making the son violent!

Never mind that The Hunger Games series intends to show the terrifying, raw wrongness of such violence and its general acceptance in society. Never mind that Elliott probably wouldn’t be the type to support a strong female heroine fending for herself and eventually overpowering an oppressive male figure, given the disturbing, misogynistic manifesto he’d been writing for the past three years and the video explaining his plans for revenge against women. He certainly didn’t take in the message of doing everything you can to protect the ones you love, as his loved ones will now be shamed and broken for the rest of their lives because of his purely selfish actions.

So is the media really going to argue that he missed everything else that the film was about and went straight to the killing part? REALLY?!

Also, we’re not film experts, but we’re pretty sure the 2nd unit directors take care of all the cutaways and scenic or stunt shots that don’t involve the core cast. The principal cast did almost all their own stunt work in the first film, so that would’ve been handled by Gary Ross. The only time something violent occurs in a “second unit” setting is the District 11 riot, which was directed by Steven Soderbergh, not Peter Rodger. So the father in question was responsible for approximately zero percent of the violence relayed on screen.

Of course, The Hunger Games isn’t the whole brunt of the media blame game. Hollywood in general has been picked at a lot here. The Washington Post went so far as to blame Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow for starring in/creating movies in which a socially awkward, “shlubby” underdog manages to enter or maintain a relationship with a hot female because it promotes wish fulfillment and entitlement. Personally, we’re calling bullshit on this too. Anyone with a steady head on their shoulders understands that romantic comedies or dramadies, in fact movies in general, are not the stuff by which real life is measured and does not represent everyday interactions. Anyone who doesn’t recognize this probably has what Elliott Rodger did— more profound mental issues that need to be addressed. Of course, nobody will simply consider mental illness because, as Judd Apatow pointed out, that doesn’t sell papers. (The irony being that the attention that one gets from from the media after attempting or committing a killing spree helps perpetuate the cycle of violence. A fact forever lost on the media.)

Let’s Stop With The “Bad Influences” Blame Game,
The Girl With The Pearl

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8 comments

  1. So sick of all the headlines. I thought about writing a piece on JJ.net, but you just took all the words out of my mouth. πŸ˜‰

    Raising kids myself, there are a million reasons that can contribute to someone snapping like this, and so many of them are out of a parent’s control, too. Bullying at school. A mean rebuff from a heartless girl. So while I don’t find parents blameless, it’s so hard to accurately judge what could have prevented something like this.

  2. Did you read this? It is pretty interesting stuff, There is something to the glorification of the underdog guy gets the girl motif. You can tell The Hunger Games is written by a woman, Peeta could go into this territory but is respectful enough to stay out of it. But it explains some of why it never sat well with me that they ended up together.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/27/your-princess-is-in-another-castle-misogyny-entitlement-and-nerds.html

    1. That article was pretty good and thought-provoking. While we shouldn’t lose focus on individual factors like mental illness, cultural and social factors like misogyny are important to consider as well.
      I don’t see the relevance to Katniss and Peeta, though. First, Peeta isn’t a nerd. On the contrary, his strength is social skills. Furthermore, he never stalks Katniss, never demands anything of her. Also, she needs him as much as he needs her.

    2. I did read The Post article and the article you linked to. I think in both cases it’s people looking really hard for something to blame. The fact that popular media gets the brunt of it is commonplace, for being too violent or too male or featuring the characters WE root for figuring out how to make the relationships WE want them in work (and then the media who created and supported it blames us for rooting for it, telling us that it means there’s something wrong with us). Who knows if Elliott Rodger even paid attention to any of the “influences” they want to blame? Nope, but they’re gonna assume away, even if romantic comedies and Big Bang Theory and the like were NOT his jam. And it’ll be like this the next time murder hits the news, too. All I’m saying is this: How about tirades blaming the same old reasoning, we consider a larger picture?

  3. I would seriously recommend reading that Washington Post piece though. The writer makes it very clear that she’s not blaming Rogen or Apatow, they’re just being brought up as examples to the gender-wise one-sided, often misogynistic culture that Hollywood movies have. She’s also clear on the subject, that the guy would’ve been sick one way or another, movie culture merely inflamed his psychosis. Of course there are other issues that should be talked about, but I don’t think her point of view should be completely dismissed. Also, she’s at least not bringing up The Hunger Games.

    1. I did read TWP article before writing this, but I still take some issue with it. I got into it pretty thoroughly in the comment above this one if you wanna check that out. πŸ™‚

      1. I understand, I guess I’m just happy to see discussions about the male dominant nature of movie culture, and how it affects our society who at this point unfortunately view it as the norm. I also don’t think that the writer deserved the harsh criticism she received, especially since none of that level was inflicted on those who blame movie violence in general for acts like that. And like I alluded, I partially agree with a lot of the points she made, especially seeing the openly misogynistic and racist posts the guy posted on his social sites that didn’t even raise the red flag to anyone.

        Of course, there are issues that should be talked about a lot more often. I for one, as someone who doesn’t live in the US, can’t even begin to understand how someone so disturbed can legally own a firearm. And the whole ‘he would’ve found a way to get a gun anyway’ argument that I see in these cases is laughable. It’s like arguing that you shouldn’t install a lock on your door because if someone wants to break in, they’ll do it anyway.

  4. i’m in complete agreement about the hunger games aspect of your arguments– the sensationalist press is being completely ridiculous and nonsensical with that “hunger games killer” moniker, and anyone with one working neuron can see that THG had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what this guy did.

    moreover, i wanted to applaud you for also mentioning the flack romantic comedies are getting out of this, because it’s just as unfair. yes, “the underdog gets the girl” has been a pretty pervasive trope in media for, oh, over three decades now, and yes, maybe they should start updating their plotlines a bit, but “judd apatow made me do it!” is just as ridiculous an excuse as the hunger games one is.

    because, while those movies are designed to people’s wish-fullfillment fantasies (that’s a big part of the reason they even find an audience), it’s also undeniable that 1) any person with the amount of sense god gave a goat can RECOGNIZE that those are just movies, and real life doesn’t necessarily work that way, and 2) it’s completely missing the point those movies are trying to make– the geeks in most of those movies don’t “get the girls” as some kind of reward, or because they’re better than their “jock” competition; instead, the girls choose to be with them because they see something good and attractive in them, something they connect with, something worthy of loving. which is something this rodger dude, even though he identified himself as a “geek” and the stereotypical “nice guy,” clearly didn’t have, as a truly good guy worthy of loving doesn’t GO ON A FREAKING KILLING RAMPAGE.

    there’s no telling for the quality of the movies rodger was watching (god knows there’s some crap out there, and i don’t particularly love judd apatow or seth rogen movies myself), but putting the blame anywhere except on the fact that this man was a completely unhinged individual with a grudge against women and too easy access to weapons is pointless– because there could be any number of elliott rodgers out there, and putting down movies that millions of sane people actually enjoy in a healthy way isn’t going to stop any of them from having a breakdown one day and having this tragedy repeat itself.

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