Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I read the guy's plays so you don't have to.

FWIW, I found the Virginia Tech Shooter's Plays and read them. I've summarized and commented on them below.

The plays:

Richard McBeef: An angry teenage boy is trying to convince his mom that his stepdad is a murderer/child molester. Though he admits to the stepdad that he was lying, he's successful in breaking up his mother's relationship, but the stepfather kills him.

Mr. Brownstone: A bunch of teenagers sneak into a casino and are playing casino games, talking about how much they hate their teacher and wish they could kill him. (They make many references to how the teacher "ass rapes" people. Whether this is intended as metaphor isn't clear.) The teacher shows up at some point. One of them wins the jackpot and the teacher claims that the kids knocked him over and stole his ticket. So the teacher gets the money and the kids swear they will get revenge.

CC's Thoughts on them:

Both stories are badly written and seem more like the work of a high school kid than a college student. He does not come off as if English were his second language, he comes off as very immature and an unsophisticated thinker. He also doesn't understand some of the basics of playwriting. (E.g. If at all possible, avoid having scenes take place in cars.)

Honestly, though, had I been in a class where these were workshopped, I would have thought the guy was a jackass, but I wouldn't necessarily have thought "school shooter." He comes off as much more mentally ill in "Mr. Brownstone."

I do write mysteries myself, and though the shooter's work is very bad, when I reread the summary I wrote of the first play, I might easily have written a story with the same plot outline.

It's probably worth noting what the two plays had in common:

1. Angry young people who are ultimately punished for their actions.
2. Accusations of molestation (admitted to be lies in the first play, possibly hyperbole in the second)
3. Lots of swearing, much of it sort of odd in the way that kids who are just learning to swear use swearing badly.

Anyway, that's what I gleaned from them.



Comrade Kevin said...

I, too, have read through these plays and formed many of the same conclusions that you have.

He strikes me as a severely immature kid with a persecution complex.

I commented on this post yesterday and one of the comments expressed a sentiment that some people are purely evil--no if, ands, or buts about it.

I used to believe that, then I drifted away from thinking that way, now I'm questioning again.

I suppose I wonder what creates people like him and in such numbers. Everyone's going to be looking for problem to pin it on: violent video games, pollution, impurities in food products...and I wish I were wise enough to pin it down.

Bill Baar said...

Obama considered this a teaching moment and delivered a painful rambling lecture of which Illinois's Dan Curry said,

Obama speaks in circular gobble-speak. I find it particularly empty when he talks about excess violence in our culture after he just scooped up millions of dollars from Hollywood fat-cats.

My Senator set himself up for it and should have known better, especially coming from a State with far more than our share of senseless violence.

TheCSO said...

Kevin: you ask what creates people like him, and in such numbers.

Abuse. Lots of abuse. Assumptions that boys will be boys, hitting is okay, boys who cry when hit are faggots, and hitting faggots is okay. Lots of people who are willing to look the other way. Child welfare systems that kids try to stay out of because their abusive parents are less bad. Cultures that glorify success and stigmatize mental illness. Retaliation against those who DO seek treatment - that kid who was expelled from GWU for suicidal ideation, who would have been just fine if he'd kept his mouth shut. School counselors who abuse their kid's trust. And the lack of options, the lack of ways to escape. The lack of vengeance, of justice ever delivered to the abusers. That the abusers always win, and the abused always lose, and that has just been the way of the world and so shall it ever be. And that when one of those victims finally snaps, they aren't even afforded the common decency of being listed among the dead.

You asked.