Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Violence & Entertainment - School Shootings


Something beautiful and terrible happened on my television screen last week. French Canadian cop show 19-2 dedicated a complete episode to a high school shooting. By that, I don't mean it wrapped things up in an hour. There was no clear Setup-Conflict-Resolution structure. No, the entire episode was A HIGH SCHOOL SHOOTING. In case you've lived under a rock for the last fifteen years, you're aware this is like, the biggest taboo in Occidental society, right? Right?

Boy, what an hour that was. We've been battered with images of death and confused agony. We've seen unsuspecting victim crawling in their own blood, writhing in pain, looking for an unlikely savior and heard their last sobs. There were blood smears on the walls. We've seen policemen who were scared, some moved in by their sense of duties and others paralyzed by terror. We've seen bullets graze them and  heard death whisper in their ear. Most important, we've never seen the shooter's face until he got gunned down. If you're inclined, a gentle soul has put the wonderful thirteen minutes sequence shot on YouTube with English captions.

Critics and columnist alike were offended. Could have all-star director Podz have shown some decency, they wrote. I didn't think that. This historical episode made me wonder: have we been taking this problem by the wrong end all this time? Authors and film directors have spent so much time and effort trying to empathize with shooters in a futile effort to understand the motivation of their crime. Think about Gus Van Sant's ELEPHANT or Ben Coccio's ZERO DAY. Both films are mesmerizing in their own right, but what if it wasn't the productive approach to deal with such a problematic social issue?

Empathizing with school shooters gives them a poetic value, like they were fallen angels. Podz's approach makes high school shootings thoroughly unsexy. He exposes everything. Every moment from the point of view of people who have their lives turned upside down by the events. He doesn't spare you the suffering and the death of unsuspecting and undeserving youth. A school shooting is exactly what he portrayed. Fear, Death, Blood and Trauma. There is no hidden meaning, there is no bigger purpose and it happens periodically in our society. In our schools. By dehumanizing the shooter until his own death, Podz gave all the floor to the ultimate truth of school shootings. It kills and maims and scars people and most important, it doesn't accomplish anything. 

So you know, a big fuck you to the columnists who blew the whistle at this courageous and historical television episode. We, in Quebec, came up with a potential solution on how to approach such an unspeakable and immediate issue art-wise and you deem it offending to your sensibility? You're a part of the problem if you keep turning your back on such an issue. Podz stared at the devil in the eye and turned an episode that makes the works of likes of Gus Van Sant look pale and non-pertinent. I have to admit, I'm a bit fascinated by school shootings. I don't love them, but they are the purest manifestations of horror that can hit our homes and therefore we need to talk about it. Here's the video again. Please watch it and share your opinions about it and about the issue of school shootings in general.


Don't forget to turn on the captions at the bottom right.



5 comments:

  1. We're supposed to do some shooting drill here where I work and I think I'm going to call in sick that day. I think shooting prep is stupid. If a gunman shows up, I'm just dead. I can't fight, can't run very fast, and am fat.

    Dude, I know you like UFC stuff. Did you see the episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" that showed Hall do a brutal knockout on another contender. He was out for six minutes and then had to get rushed to the hospital. Hall felt so bad afterward. I think I may blog about it tomorrow.

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  2. Actually, I did. It was pretty bad, but believe it or not, it wasn't even the worst KO in the show's history. Watch this -http://mysp.ac/12x6NUJ . This is fucked up. But yeah...Hall's KO was pretty bad. He was very respectful afterwards though. Not that it has to do with the subject. You need Facebook, so we can talk!

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    1. Wow. That KO was pretty sick. Everything is so white on your blog!

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  3. That was incredible. I need to track down this full episode.

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  4. It was available on tou.tv for a week, but without subtitles. It's not important anyway because there's not much said. They stay in the school for three times as long.

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