Prison rape. Gang rape. Forcible drowning in piss. How ’bout a school shooting, too? No, this isn’t an attempt to draw certain kinds of traffic to the blog. It was the happenings in the Sept. 10, 2103 premier of Sons of Anarchy. I was told by so many people to avoid watching television, and to stay away from pop culture as a subject matter, but both are really hard to avoid. I don’t even try to resist television. I try really hard to avoid pop culture, though. But man is it hard to do.
In 1979, Bob Geldof penned, “I Don’t Like Mondays” with the Boomtown Rats, a song about a 16-year old girl named Brenda Ann Spencer, who went to school and killed two adults and injured eight children in San Diego. The song title was taken straight from Spencer’s explanation of why she did it. Back then, this was the sort of incident that was a fringe oddity, perhaps worthy of an Irish new wave band’s song. It helps to contextualize and file away such a disturbing event, perhaps. My response was to approach the faculty at my son’s school. I asked my son’s teacher if she watched television.
“In the classroom?” she asked with appropriate alarm. I could see she assumed I was the head of the local Kill Your Television chapter.
“No, at home.” She looked at me as though I was hitting on her, or I had asked about some intimate detail about her sex life. “Did you see Sons of Anarchy last night?” I continued.
“No, I didn’t. Is that a good show?” She stepped back a foot, waving her wedding ring.
“There was a school shooting in it. It was really disturbing. Please tell me why you think that won’t happen here.” I knew I had crossed over at this point.
“Oh, well we have drills we do for things like that, and the gate’s are locked most of the time.”
“But this was a student. Would you be able to see if a student here was exceptionally disturbed?” This is why television is bad for you. It depicts reality but people sometimes think it is reality.
“Well, we have great counselors here,” she said.
I think I was particularly disturbed by the show because the school uniforms were too similar to the ones my son sports. And plus, these shootings are happening all the time. I actually asked the head of the school to review with me the security measures in place to keep a crazed gunman off the campus. I did it apologetically, adding that it’s so strange that we have to worry about this nowadays. So, the lunches… are they any good? Does every classroom have a smartboard? And by the way, how many snipers are positioned on the campanile?
The subject of violence has basically become webbed into the fabric of political and social discussion, and truly, that makes it a subject I try to stay so far away from, mostly because once a topic becomes socialized and politicized, that’s when all the idiots come out of the woodwork. And yet, here I am. And it goes to the top ten lines of discussion on American society today, where elections are decided on a candidate’s ability to pander to his constituents the best. Gun control, violence, taxes, sexual morals, health care, corporate greed and foreign policy (read: violence on a larger but more acceptable scale). Pick a side.
If you take any relevant social issue, and attempt to solve it, you will have to travel the vine to the causes. Infant mortality, for example. Without any stats or research, I would guess that our infant mortality rate would be improved by ensuring that pregnant people take care of themselves while pregnant, along with improving certain environmental factors, and then by possibly making sure that pregnant people have a nice place in which to give birth. The vine is going to take us to the main points that drive any election: poverty, education, health care. Recently, a guy named Michael Brandon Hill went to shoot up a school in Atlanta. He was, of course, a quiet and friendly guy until the silicone chip inside his head got switched to overload. I was astounded by the fact that people held to the idea that this guy was fine until they started messing with his meds. He was fine when he tried to set fire to his family. He just needed more aderall. For a country that complains about its health care system, we sure love to give drugs to people.
And the video games. The week following the SAMCRO debut, Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto V, which grossed $800 Million on the first day. They will likely sell 25 Million units of a game that will, presumably, encourage 25 million people (mostly males in school-shooting age demographic) to kill hookers and policemen with video game impunity.
Following the vine may get difficult, like uncoiling all the wire behind the tv console, but parenting seems like a good place to start. I can do that. But I can only do it for my children. I have to hope that the other parents do it, too.
Fuck, I don’t like Mondays.