Whenever a hideously tragic event such as the recent mass killing at the University of California, Santa Barbara, takes place, it’s inevitable that violent video games, heavy metal music and, of course, the movies, are going to have some measure of blame flung in their direction.
The latest to weigh in is right wing US radio host Rush Limbaugh, who has suggested that killer Elliot Rodger’s father’s job in the film industry might be part of the reason why the 22 year old did what he did. Limbaugh singles out The Hunger Games (on which Rodger’s father was second unit director) for special attention, calling it an ‘oddball’ movie, and saying that the depiction of a society which pressures teenagers to kill might have been a key influence.
Taken from a transcript of Limbaugh’s radio show:
‘Have you seen any of the Hunger Game movies? Do you know what they’re about?…This is crucial! This is what this guy’s dad did. It’s teenagers killing other teenagers. It’s a survivalist game…They’re being forced to, but they’re still doing it…This kid [Rodger] might say he was forced to [kill] by societal pressure.’
Limbaugh also put the blame on social media, saying that young people are constantly subjected to images of others living apparently far more exciting and fulfilling lives than themselves, causing jealousy and resentment to take root and grow into a desire for retribution.
The radio segment was titled ‘The Left Takes Another Human Tragedy and Converts it Into a Political Issue’, in reference to those calling for tighter gun control in the wake of these killings, and the many other incidents of mass murder with firearms that have taken place in the US in recent years.
The tragedy at UCSB doesn’t need to be ‘converted’ into a political issue; it already was one for a wide variety of reasons, including gun control, but mainly because of the justification the killer himself gave for his actions. We don’t need to speculate about why Rodger murdered 6 and wounded 13 more before committing suicide, because he left a 140 page manifesto behind him detailing his exact reasons – and his reasons were political. Rodger was a misogynist who despised women, blaming them for his dissatisfaction with his life, and stating explicitly that he wanted to wage ‘war on women’ and to ‘create a world where WOMEN FEAR YOU [the man]‘.
Well, if Rodger were still alive to listen, we’d have a bit of news for him; we already live in a world where women fear men (and with good reason). And we’ve got a bit of news for Limbaugh and those who share his views, who are alive to listen; Rodger didn’t do this because his dad worked on a violent film or two, and he didn’t do it because he was jealous of all the nice pictures on his friends’ Instagram feeds. He did it because he had developed a deep hatred of women through growing up in a society where entitlement, rape culture, and misogyny are still par for the course.