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Bad Day in Santa Barbara

Yet another mass shooting by gunfire in America

Yet another sad account of a perpetrator – this one suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome – with the profile of a friendless loner obsessed with revenge for imagined slights, or perhaps real ones.

And soon to come, I have no doubt, a smug reiteration from the National Rifle Association to the effect that it is not the guns that kill people but the people who kill people.

President Obama my even weigh in with a fresh appeal – or in truth a stale one – to Congress to enact gun-control legislation.  Congress, at present controlled by freaky apologists for America’s freedom to bear arms – on the falsified pretence that it is a constitutional right – will ignore the call, as it always does. 

These shooting incidents are always shocking, but never surprising.  They all follow a familiar pattern.  Many of the details of the current story were present in the previous one at Sandy Hook, Connecticut last year.  They will reappear in the next one. 

And there undoubtedly will be a next one, since there is not the slightest reason to suppose that the random killings in a random place – this time Santa Barbara, California – will be the last of its kind.    

How ironic that the father of the alleged shooter makes his living in Hollywood.  The studios have for years been turning out sadistic trash, hoping that each bullet-riddled, blood-soaked film will become the next ‘cult classic’ of its dismal genre, and make fortunes for all concerned. 

Peter Rodger had worked, it seems, as an assistant director on a film called The Hunger Games.  The second in what is destined to become a series, the film is already a HCC (Hollywood Cult Classic).  It is graphically, insistently and pointlessly brutal, devoid of any spark of decency.  A third one is planned, and no doubt a fourth.  And why not, when the first two were such hits?

I do not completely subscribe to the view that ultra-violent films, television shows and video games influence the behaviour of the people who enjoy them, on the grounds that they cater to people who are already so disposed.  But smaller vicious circles are constantly being created within a much larger one.  Hollywood calls them spin-offs.  Take a look at your television movie listings tonight.  You will find dozens of them.  

I have three horror channels on my Sky box.  They present a nightly dystopian cavalcade of bug-eyed zombies, mutants, aliens, vampires, terrorists, mass murderers, torturers and rapists – their activities depicted in graphic close-up and colour.  And that is before we get to Messrs Stallone, Schwarzenegger and Willis and their arsenals of automatic weapons.  Hammer films now look like Carry On comedies.   

Gore galore and mass massacres – what fun!  Yum, yum!  Pass the popcorn.  Or, better still, the weed.       

Yes, I recognise that nothing I have written here is remotely original.  Is there anything original left to say?  I apologise for having no compelling insights into why disturbed people pick up guns and go out to fire them into crowds.  But then, nor does anyone else.   

At the risk of stating the obvious, making it harder for them to do so might be a good place to start.

That place, in America at least, does not yet even appear on the horizon.   But then, there is no horizon, just an endless landscape of blood.

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