How many more people have to die before Washington Post critic Anne Hornaday strikes again?
How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like “Neighbors” and feel, as Rodger did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of “sex and fun and pleasure”? How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, “It’s not fair”?
Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it. The myths that movies have been selling us become even more palpable at a time when spectators become their own auteurs and stars on YouTube, Instagram and Vine. If our cinematic grammar is one of violence, sexual conquest and macho swagger — thanks to male studio executives who green-light projects according to their own pathetic predilections — no one should be surprised when those impulses take luridly literal form in the culture at large.
I mean, if Hornaday can make an argument for blaming Elliot Rodger’s tragic murder spree on “the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA,” then I can certainly make a go at blaming such tragedies on dangerously complicit commentary that totally ignores the role of, you know, the gun.
Rodger reportedly stabbed to death his two roommates and a guest at his apartment, and then shot to death two women and a man before turning the gun on himself.
I’m not saying that Hornaday doesn’t have any valid points about sexism in Hollywood, and she does at least make a nod to the role of mental illness in this tragedy. But she doesn’t even mention the role of the gun, or the role of our nation’s stupidly dangerous gun culture. And in that sense she helps contribute to the enabling of future such tragedies.