19 Minutes, bullying, Columbine, Endgame, goths, He Was Weird, intolerance, Jodi Piccoult, Lionel Shriver, Marilyn Manson, music, Nancy Garden, school shootings, Sophie Lancaster, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Following on from previous post, “Bullied For Being Different,” I would like to write about how the Goth culture, along with Marilyn Manson, gets blamed for school shootings in America. When the Columbine tragedy occurred in the US, many people, especially on the right, blamed Goths. One politician even warned about “the onset of Goth gangs’ and how they were even more dangerous than traditional gangs like the Cripps and the Bloods. But are they?
As you can see from the photo, the two Columbine Shooters don’t exactly look like Goths. In the investigation after, it was found that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were not of the trench coat wearing brigade or Goths. In fact, they weren’t Marilyn Manson fans either. However, the unfortunate case is that it is easy to blame the Goth culture out of intolerance than to find out the real causes as to why they did it.
One backlash from the Columbine shooting was that it was used as an excuse to wage war on ‘weirdoes’ and other non-conformists. Schools all over America began profiling their pupils with the intention of kicking out those who they believed to be potential trouble makers. Naturally, Goths were prime targets in this witch hunt. As a result, anyone wearing a trench coat or listening to Marilyn Manson was considered a potential trouble maker and dealt with by being sent for counselling on the one extreme to getting kicked out of school on the other. The question is, are schools acting in the proper manner, being paranoid or just wanting to justify their intolerance to those who don’t conform to standard dress?
In the books about school shootings which I often feature on here, Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes,” Lionel Shriver’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” the late Nancy Garden’s “Endgame” and my own book, “He Was Weird,” none of the school shooters are Goths. The closest is possibly Peter, the shooter in “Nineteen Minutes,” who listens to music similar to Marilyn Manson. Of course, when the media gets wind of that, it is used against him. Grey, the shooter in “Endgame,” plays the drums and because he has an interest in music, was obviously driven by music to commit his shooting. Note my hint of sarcasm here. Even Kevin in the book that bears his name was not a Goth and his musical interests are not known. Only the reader gets the impression gets the impression that something isn’t quite right about Kevin because to his school peers, he blends in perfectly. As for my own novel, Mark is definitely not a Goth and it is clear from the investigation that music had nothing to do with his killing spree.
With the exception of “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” we know that the shooters in the other books are all victims of bullying. However, in each story, the bullying aspect is downplayed, even denied in the case of “Endgame” by those in supposed authority. It is far easier to blame other things like music and Goth culture for school shootings than to find out what really caused some troubled kid to snap and commit carnage on his school.
The last thing I have been contemplating is the fact that a lot of what happens in America gets reported on British media. Columbine made big news in the UK and was why when news of Mark’s shooting in “He Was Weird” goes out, I write about it being in a British TV newscast. American intolerance of certain cultures is also well known in Britain and that leads me to wonder that if that somehow influenced the intolerance of those who killed Sophie Lancaster for being a Goth. Before anyone jumps on me for making outlandish associations, when I worked as a supply teacher in a high school, I was asked by many pupils who upon discovering I was American, if I was in a gang or had seen a drive by shooting. Right or wrong, the media can have a big influence.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501920803&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird