Inside the Black Sun (2000)
Why is it I can remember the name of the Virginia Tech killer but none of his victims?
Could it be because of mass media blanket saturation of his so-called manifesto? How many more sociopathic "martyrs" can now see a clear roadmap to insta-fame in the camera obscura of YouTube?
I am disgusted. I'm not the only one.
NBC could have reported that they received a package from the killer. They could have told us that they turned it over to the authorities. They could have discussed in general terms what was contained in the package and whether those contents offered any insight into this tragedy. They could have exercised editorial restraint for the good of humanity. And, in the process, they would not have been fueling the morbid fantasies of the next murderous malcontents lurking in countless otherwise peaceful colleges. Or high schools. Or food courts. Or churches. Other fractured minds whose American idols are the killers from Virginia Tech and Columbine. Violent, gun-worshiping misfits who dream of emulating the "martyrdom" of their heroes, knowing that they too can get their moment in the national spotlight, with their faces, their sneers, their incoherent ramblings blasted on every television network and across every internet site, if only they kill enough people and leave behind a wicked MySpace page.
Not so easy is the answer to the question: what is the possible journalistic explanation for splashing Cho's self-dramatizing poses and self-justifying bullshit over network and cable air? Did we learn anything useful during the spate of interviews of Charlie Manson years ago, except that he was one crazy motherfucker? Cho's pathetic outpourings deserved to be put back where they came from -- in a small room, with FBI guys sentenced to read/see and parse them. Instead, a hundred thousand self-pitying mentally ill young men (and women?) have just been shown the road to glory one more time. A society in which it's easier to become famous for killing people than for doing something useful or constructive is one remarkable place in which to live.
There's an overriding public interest in trying to understand this young man and this tragedy. If the video is no longer telling you anything new, and it's just being run to keep you watching, then you are actually serving the need of this killer, who is trying to haunt and taunt us.
Most of these guys like this, they're sort of looking for a way to make a statement. They're already suicidal, they're already depressed, they have a grievance, and one of the attractive things about doing what he did is you resolve everything at once: You go out in a blaze of glory and make your statement," he said. "The risk of adding to this and providing validation to me ought to sort of trump the educational value of it.
Please stop now. That's all. If you can take [talk show host Don] Imus off the air, you can certainly keep [Cho] from having his own morning show.
And Cintra Wilson:
Cho's successful domination of the news cycles condones, justifies and rewards his behavior... and encourages it in others who suffer from this affliction. Infamy is the same thing as Fame, for the malignant narcissist.
Our current habit of obsessing over celebrity infamy and disgrace: e.g., the nonstop reportage on the likes of Britney, Lindsay, Paris, and the late Anna Nicole Smith -- no doubt confirmed, for Cho, that his plan was a good one.
He saw the two-headed calf of the New Celebrity: it is Death Worship.
Cho reached out in his videos, addressing many of his incoherent ramblings to future generations of disgruntled, schizophrenic losers who admire serial killers. Cho's brilliantly publicized rampage was his gift to future psychopaths, who will now have Cho as their new watermark, their new hero, their new rock star. As a student of killers, Cho probably knew exactly how many bodies he'd have to notch up to be the "biggest" killer in America. Future sociopaths will use his death-toll as a starting point.
The Virginia killer's "manifesto" -- and the media's willingness to dote on it like a catechism -- will be the reason for future killers to do what they already feel like doing: shoot everyone that makes them feel small. As the Columbine killers' impulses were fed by the rapt, prurient attentions devoted to previous serial killers, so Cho was emboldened by our worship of the Columbine killings.
With our collective attention, we have empowered those who get the most attention in the mainstream media: the worst of the worst. Cho, no doubt, will inspire future atrocities..... because in addition to killing 31 innocent victims, he made the media complicit in his crime. NBC was the Bonnie to Cho's Clyde. No legitimate psycho, now, will ever feel truly discouraged that his pathological need for attention will go unmet.
NBC must count itself as the invisible gunman in all copycat crimes resulting from the Virginia Tech massacre. They nailed Cho to the crucifix he so desperately wanted, and said, "Behold."
Don't get me wrong. I'm a realist. I understand the collective need to try to make sense or understand this tragedy. I even understand the news value of the killer's package -- and the reluctance of editors to screen what should and should not be shown in the (possible) public interest. And in a wall-to-wall wired age, there's no hiding from bad news or unsettling images. You can't stop a few million bloggers (like me?) from writing about such subjects. I understand all that.
But I resent giving this murderer so much pre-planned public attention. There's no light to be shed by carpet bombing the airwaves with his delusions and grandstanding. There's only darkness inside his black sun.