Requiem for a narcissist: UCSB shooter
Something is terribly wrong with individuals in our society. Almost a year after a gunman shattered the peace at Santa Monica College, Santa Barbara has now experienced its own tragedy through bloodshed at the hands of Elliot Rodger, a Santa Barbara City College student, who claimed to be incensed by the fact that women on campus would reject him for stale "alpha males." The fact that at the age of 22, a college student would acquire weapons, kill six people, and leave behind a taped manifesto railing against women who would deny him sex, is a disturbing sign of the state of modern, American society.
Since the shootings there has been a wide discussion in the media about mental health and gun laws. Both discussions are valid, but only to a point. A stroll down the Third Street Promenade of Santa Monica on any given night, can be a constant reminder of our state's woeful disregard for the mentally ill. It is ridiculous how easily anyone can arm themselves as if guerrilla war were about to erupt in the Hollywood Hills.
But pay very close attention to the language in the videos Rodger left behind. It is obvious he has serious, psychological issues and in fact, according to family and news reports, he did seek help and was interviewed by the police who deemed him as a non-threat. Yet, in him what we are seeing is the very perverse manifestation of a culture that has drowned itself in narcissism and selfishness.
Rodger's main gripe with society is that he can't attract girls, or more specifically that none of them will offer themselves for sex. So angry is Rodger that during one video as he walks around a golf course, he mentions that, "It's my last enjoyment in life, I can't enjoy anything else, my life is so lonely and mundane. I have no friends, no girlfriends, no love, no sex."
Rodger comes across as well-spoken and articulate, but also very pompous and egomaniacal. At one point he videotapes his reflection and comments on how "magnificent" he is. Inside his BMW he states the lack of female interest in him as "a problem I intend to rectify. I, in all my magnificence and power, will not let this fly." He even chuckles like some B-movie villain.
If Rodger hadn't acted out his fantasies and killed six people, much of his manifesto would simply play as farcical and ridiculous. But there's a chilling way in which his declarations of, "I'm the perfect guy, the supreme gentleman," resound after the bloody rampage. Ironically, he doesn't make himself look any better than the "jerks" he condemns, by puffing himself up as a supreme being who will inflict vengeance on the women who refuse him.
It's not as if all of Rodger's grievances are alien to the typical college student. Most guys have been rejected a few times by different girls, and both men and women make unwise decisions when selecting their partners during their 20's.
Yes, at times looking for a date can turn into a Darwinian struggle. And appearance, more than anything, is the first trait men and women are attracted to.
But such is life, something Rodger could not accept as he held himself superior to other men, basically calling it a crime that women would not flock to him.
It is very telling that when Rodger speaks about women, he does not speak about them as individuals but as mere sex objects. He threatens to attack a sorority house and kill the "blonde sluts" who he "desires," never mentioning wanting a girl with for intelligence or personality.
For Rodger, desire simply meant fleeting physical satisfaction with other women whom he had probably never met or had a meaningful conversation with. Rodger viewed his victims as dehumanized, but the reality is that popular conceptions did the dehumanizing for him. His sick ego was bruised when women turned him down because the voices of our time raised him with the idea that you must want and sleep with a "hot blonde," or life just isn't fun.
We should not only ask why Rodger committed his heinous act, or how it could have been prevented, but should also wonder what kind of culture even bred such a walking time bomb. In his videos Rodger isn't just protesting his lack of girlfriends, he is essentially regurgitating what the culture fed into his brain: that college isn't so much about growing your mind or finding your place but about getting laid, partying and joining the "in" crowds.
Rodger specifically states that he's never been accepted by the popular kids and now wishes to exact revenge. The question is why would he, or anyone, want to be with "the popular kids."
While, the young people in other countries like Bahrain or Greece might vent with violence over economic chaos, the tyranny of monarchs, or repression of the state, violence from people in the U.S often happens out of loneliness and the denial of physical gratification.
Individuals have the right to live as they wish, and men and women have the right to date whom they wish. But Rodger is the latest, chilling spawn to go berserk over issues that are shocking in their simplicity.
It's as if he took way too seriously those frat guy movies or rap songs about "hoes" and "bling," or the magazine covers that stare at us from supermarket aisles, or romantic comedies where nice guys win over the Hollywood bombshells.
In a society where thinking is frowned upon (look at how many colleges have slashed funding for their humanities departments), creativity is seen as a road to poverty (the arts are not popular in the jobs listings), and even sex is turned into a cheap commodity, selfish little monsters like Rodger will continue to enact their fantasies and bring nothing but senseless sorrow to others.
He was a narcissist angry at a narcissistic world.