It’s hard to be funny when the Boston metropolitan area is on lockdown, at least five people–including a little boy–are dead, and hundreds more are horribly wounded physically and emotionally.
So I am not going to try.
As I write this, marathon bombing Suspect Number 2, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, is still on the lam.
The televised scenes from Boston play out like a violent blockbuster summer thriller. CNN calls it a “manhunt.”
The more I hear, the more I think young Dzhokhar can hardly be called a man. He was so panicked during last night’s fatal carjacking that he ran over his own brother’s body to get away from authorities. This morning, his uncle disowned him and (rightfully) called him a loser in front of a crush of national media. As far as society is concerned, like Dzhokhar, many nineteen-year olds are men in physique and boys at heart, not fully accountable and certainly impressionable. That’s why we get them to fight our wars, under strict supervision. But we don’t let them drink and we only allow them to vote because we used to draft them. At the time, it only seemed fair.
There’s no indication that Dzhokhar is mentally ill, unlike alleged Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes. (Although there is a good argument to be made that anyone who willfully kills another human being in a time of peace has got to be crazy.) Dzhokhar and his elder brother didn’t dress up as sick comic book characters and smear on wild make-up to deliver their bombs. Still I wonder how many warlike video games these kids played or how many American movies they had seen that glamorize violence and glorify tough, sarcastic, grenade-throwing heroes. On Wednesday, two days after the bombing, reports say Dzhokhar Tweeted “I’m a stress-free kind of guy.”
Sounds like something Die Hard star Bruce Willis might have sneered, except Bruce had a screenwriter and his glib remarks came out cool and not adolescently awkward.
We’ve got to quit making it hip to kill people, even on the cineplex screen or at the loaded end of an X-Box controller. We’ve got to stop calling that entertainment. There’s nothing entertaining about the scared, desperate–and armed–teenager now scuttling around trying to get himself out of the worst fix any kid could have possibly been lured into by violent media images and a deranged older sibling.
We can do better than this. Hollywood can do better than this. Where is the movie hero or the video game that would have given Dzhokhar Tsarnaev the role model and backbone to say No. This is stupid. This is wrong. I love you, brother, but I am turning you in?
What do you think? Leave your comment below. And, need I say it, please be civil. There’s enough meanness in the world without spewing it around here. Thanks.