Tucson’s Tragedy: A Symptom Of America’s Erotization Of Violence

Since Saturday morning America is in shocked. Senseless killings are common fodder for the American psyche: both in the realm of daily local news, nationwide, and in the world of fantasy and “entertainment” brought by television and films. There is a saying in American news:”If it bleeds, it leads”. Sadly enough, it is true. Whenever something like the senseless killings in Tucson, the massacre of Columbine and of course the murdering rampage masterminded by Charlie Manson decades ago, media ratings go through the roof.

The so called liberal Hollywood offers continuously an “all you can eat” buffet of mayhem where the goal is to come up with the most graphic violence possible. Crimes, violence and punishment is an American obsession. Teenagers are growing  up playing extremely realistic and violent video-games where the logic is either to kill or be killed. In movies or even on cable the people doing the rating have less problems with a slow motion shot of a bullet blowing a brain off than with full frontal nudity. If extremely violent acts are a dime a dozen in the American narrative, the frank depiction of sex acts, on the other hand, is still a “controversial” subject. For  a lot of Americans, it is as if the 1960’s sexual revolution never happened.

Violence is nothing new in the United States. As matter of fact, this country birth was marked by extreme violence with the genocide of indigenous population and slavery. Guns and violence were an intimate part of the American culture at its foundation, and they still play a key role in this country. Gun rights advocates say “guns don’t kill, people do”, then the second argument coming up from them is that gun ownership is protected by the US Constitution.

The National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobby of the land, and their goal is to keep Americans armed to the teeth. Politicians pushing for gun control are almost guarantee not to be re-elected. A remark made by Barack Obama, on the issue, during the 2008 campaign almost cost him the election: it was of course the “cling to their guns and religion” line.

Even if candidate Obama had to do a substantial amount of back peddling for damage control, the statement was truthful even so it missed a very important dimension of America’s love affair with weapons.What it missed is the symbolic function of guns. Despite what guns enthusiasts are claiming, owning guns is not like getting an insurance policy. It is not a rational act, but an emotional one based on fears and/or a desire for power. Desire and power is what this is all about, and threatening Americans to take away their guns is a symbolic castration of  what some view as the most powerful appendix of their bodies: the gun/penis. This sexual investment is where the core of the problem resides.

It is very likely that the 22-year-old shooter of the Tucson’s massacre spent his early years playing with extremely violent video games, and watching movies depicting violence as a sexy universe. He likely quickly graduated to the real object of his desire, a real gun, in his late teens. After reading some of the delusional writing of the shooter, it seems absolutely clear that the young man suffers from mental illness. Such psychotic episodes in this age group often occur with people in a manic phase of a bipolar disorder. In this regard, his legal team is likely to go with an insanity plea.

Regardless of the verdict, what should be on trial here is America’s perverted eroticization of violence, in all walks of life, and the still pervasive repression towards sexuality. Hopefully this tragic event will push politicians to “bite the bullet” and get serious about gun control. Guns do not kill people on their own, but they always fall into the wrong hands, and it is a lot easier to go on a rampage with a gun than with a knife.


24 Responses to Tucson’s Tragedy: A Symptom Of America’s Erotization Of Violence

  1. Dan January 11, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Did you see that??… I did.. Your knee just jerked in reaction to the tragedy in Tucson. You cannot close Pandora’s box. If you take the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens then you put those same law abiding citizens at risk of gun violence. Law breakers would still get the guns, no doubt about it.

  2. Tyson January 11, 2011 at 6:27 am

    I was wondering when I was going to find an article about blaming movies and video games…. of course the person being out of their MIND had nothing to do with it so it must be the fact that he watched TV. Maybe we should sleep for his issues since everyday he woke up he was a bit more over the edge! The reason means nothing, he did what he did to prove a point. I agree with Dan on the subject of gun control. Maybe stricter licencing is in order to keep the people that are crazy from having the weapons, but stop blaming video games. Hitler didn’t have an xbox….

  3. Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 7:11 am

    This individual was emotionally and mentally disturbed. Even WITHOUT a gun culture, glamorized violence in the media, and the venomous political encouragement of violence against opposing political parties, he probably still would have hurt someone.

    Blaming video games is ridiculous, there’s literally millions of gamers now, compared to 30 years ago. Violence within America is actually at a record low; however, because of 24/7 media coverage, it APPEARS that violence is high. International and national new coverage is very new, only coming about 40 years ago, now we can see miners trapped in Chile, or a kidnapping in Kansas, regardless of where we live, but it FEELS like it’s happening everywhere.

    I think gun ownership should be made more strict. Psychological tests should be required, to prove that a person IS NOT emotionally and mentally unstable, BEFORE they buy a gun, that’s not unreasonable. On top of that, the Second Amendment, “the right to bear arms,” was written over 219 years ago during a time of domestic war. Things in America have changed a lot since then, we don’t need to worry about British troops coming into our homes, or the need to hunt our own food.

    • Billy J January 11, 2011 at 9:02 am

      Look out your window. look at the newpaper. think. drive your car.people are dying everyday so that you can maintain what you see and do every day. if you think that that came to you as a personal right then maybe you should move (maybe to Mexico) for awhile. I see friends faces every night that helped you to maintain your personal rights that you take so conviently

  4. Nick January 11, 2011 at 7:22 am

    You know what’s a hell of a lot scarier than a lone gunman? A lone swordsman.

    Imagine someone walking in to a crowd of people and just cutting off someone’s head and then slicing off arms and legs and cutting people as they go.

    Swords/knives don’t make noise, the sheer panic that would ensue tops anything a gunman could ever do.

    Remember, even though gun crime is low in the UK, knife crime is out of the stratosphere. There were daily random knifings on the tube when I lived there.

  5. Mo January 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

    Since Tyson mentioned Hitler, I’ll bring up this point… every major dictator in the last 100 years who succeeded in committing mass genocide against his own people imposed extremely strict gun control laws first, Hitler included. Disarming law-abiding people is NOT the answer to a lone psycho. Every country that has recently banned guns (democracies with good intentions) has seen a skyrocket in armed crimes. Great Britain, Australia… look it up. Meanwhile Switzerland has some of the lowest armed robbery rates in the world (34 killings or attempted killings with guns in a population of 7.6 million in 2006), and they require every Swiss male to be issued weapons as part of the militia. As Dan said, taking guns away from law abiding citizens does not keep them away from criminals. And frankly, even though you don’t see it as “the same as an insurance policy,” if someone is in my house with a gun, I don’t want to be the one bringing a knife to that fight. Feel free to be at the mercy of depraved people in your own house, but don’t take away my right to protect my family in mine.

    • Anonymous January 11, 2011 at 7:46 am

      In Switzerland, it’s not a militia, that’s very different from the conscription that they do in that country. On top of that, every male in Switzerland, and voluntary women, who is conscripted receives proper gun training. Sadly, that’s not required in the US.

      With a properly funded and trained police force, individuals do not need guns to protect themselves. I’ve lived in various cities in the US, even in some dangerous neighborhoods, and I’ve never worried about getting shot. The few people who did get shot in my areas were involved with drugs and gangs and had it coming.

      • Billy J January 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

        Maybe a two year mandatory military service can help some to quiet the rage I just wish that we had this type of military duty in the United States for everyone male and female.

  6. anonymous 2 January 11, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Really blaming the games and the fact that we have the right to own gun? I would rather be free and have guns then to not be free and have no guns!

  7. Mark January 11, 2011 at 7:30 am

    i don’t want guns and i want no guns in the world please remove all guns we want peace and we want love 🙂

    • Howling Winds January 13, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Me too. But unfortunately the government won’t tackle the real individuals and groups behind 80% of the gun violence in this country; minorities (gangs), kooks (mentally unstable) and lower class Americans (poor and uneducated), as opposed to going after tea party members, of which I would guess 99% are law abiding.

  8. Brett January 11, 2011 at 7:33 am

    If your arguments are true I had better hide in my basement with my kids. The last Call of Duty video game outsold all other forms of entertainment in the week which it opened. So there will soon be millions of late teens with their parents’ guns running around shooting at us with no reason. Then again we could restrict the guns in this country. Then nobody would have guns, like nobody has Marijuana, crack, child porn, or pirated DVDs. They would be illegal so nobody would have them….except the criminals.

  9. Virginia Simson January 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Well, as cultural anthropology you are making very good points.

    Funny how the same old, same old is dominating the thread, though. It is massive cultural DENIAL, minimization, rationalization and just plain delusion to think our culture does NOT

  10. Virginia Simson January 11, 2011 at 8:29 am

    breed violence.

    Yes, whackos will find ways to hurt others – that is the definition of evil AND insanity, wanting to hurt others or yourself. But what is feeding this monstrosity now? PROFITABILITY. Man, is violence ever PROFITABLE.

    We have corporatized violence.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier January 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks for this Virginia,that is precisely the point of my article. Violence either in wars,crimes or the fantasy of it, is profitable, and in order to maximize the profit it has a sexual dimension.

  11. Billy J January 11, 2011 at 8:55 am

    When you turn to the government to control anything ,They screw it up. The thing about guns that they will help or hurt you. The gun is only a tool to be used for good or bad. Remember that any person can buy a gun on the street for a few bucks anywhere in the world. Blame the person not the product. I have four kids and have taught them to use a weapon the right way as a tool .None of the kids have ever used a gun for anything except for hunting and self protection. Maybe training has a lot to do with the proper use of weapons. people are so damn quick to call for the outlawing of guns (regulations) when this type of thing happens, But if another person had had a carry permit ,how many of these precious lives could have been saved. Common sense should prevail ,not the hot headed gun control crap being spouted through the country. We have a constitutional right to protect ourselves and our families that control would take away from the average American. I will fight to keep that right . PS martial arts gives a person a way to kill without weapons using just bare hands are we going to out law martial arts too.

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  13. LJM January 13, 2011 at 12:13 am

    Violent crime has steadily been decreasing since the early 70’s. Same for sexual assault. Violent video games and movies, along with pornography have been increasing since then.

    These are inconvenient facts.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      Gilbert Mercier January 13, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I am not sure where you get your “inconvenient” so called facts from. According to the American Bar Association, in 2003 there were 30,136 firearm-related deaths in the United States. Worldwide the US lead with almost 17 percent of all firearm-related deaths(including accidents and suicides). Number two and three were Brazil and Mexico. In comparison, Japan, the country with the smaller amount of firearm-related deaths was at 0.5 percent of the worldwide statistic.

      • Howling Winds January 13, 2011 at 1:52 pm

        Since you talk about “facts” here, what is the actual proof that guns = penises in your opinion? Are you saying for example, that this idea can be scientifically demonstrated in the same way that the existence of gravity can?

      • Howling Winds January 13, 2011 at 1:58 pm

        Why use stats from the ABA, and from 2003? Why not FBI stats and from 2009? Firearms deaths in this country are the almost exclusive realm of minorities (80% plus), mentally unstable people (suicides) and the lower echelons (poor and uneducated) of American society. So while you are correct in that the US has a firearms violence problem, it is restricted to a very small segment of American society. Why do you fail to mention this?

  14. Ardiva January 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Gun control is a very complicated subject as the posters here have outlined. Extremely complicated. I feel sorry for the powers that be that have to deal with this subject.
    ps..I have owned guns for many years, but used them only for shooting soda cans in target practice.

    • Howling Winds January 16, 2011 at 5:38 pm

      “Gun control”, if by that you mean the attempts and ideas of the left who believe, in some cases, that private citizens shouldn’t have access to weapons, is not very complicated at all. Part of the reasoning is political (they are authoritarian) and part is mental (they fear what they don’t understand). Ultimately, the left sees the average person as someone who cannot be trusted, and so our liberty must be minimized. The really odd belief of the left however is that guns themselves cause people to become violent, not the other way around, that guns are simpy a tool chosen by someone who is already unstable. When thinking of the typical liberal in relation to gun control, think of them in the same light you would a back seat driver or a micro-manager; regardless of how little they might know about your actual situation in regard to self-defense……the liberals *know* they know better than you do.

  15. Howling Winds January 16, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    The 60 Minutes report on the Tuscon gunman just hit the airwaves; the consensus of the experts was *it had nothing to do with politics*.

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