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.


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