Netflix & Cry: Books Vs. Video Games Part Two

Cate goes more into the books vs. video games debate in the next in the Netflix & Cry series


(Read Part One Here)

Dear read­ers, I’ve re­turned. Let’s Netflix and cry, friends.

You know how the me­dia likes to jumps on gamer who also car­ry out crimes? The me­dia gets all up­pi­ty about how video games cause vi­o­lence be­cause we all know that’s true (in­sert sar­cas­tic re­sponse). I’m sure you can name a hand­ful peo­ple of peo­ple from the top of your head who were found to be gamers, and thus the me­dia jumped all over a “gamers are evil” craze. Adam Lanza? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? James Holmes? Jared Lee Loughner? The sec­ond they found some form of video game had been in their pos­ses­sion, that was sud­den­ly some­thing that mo­ti­vat­ed them.

But what about the peo­ple who’ve car­ried out crimes due to some­thing they read in a book? Can you name any of them? You can like­ly name one or two be­cause those were pret­ty big events. The list of peo­ple you could put down isn’t near­ly as long as that of the names the me­dia has crammed down your throat when it comes to sup­posed gam­ing re­lat­ed vi­o­lence. Don’t get me wrong, these peo­ple were wrong in what they did no mat­ter the mo­ti­va­tion, and these killings can nev­er be ex­cused. But how are the things you see in books and video games any dif­fer­ent from each other?

Ok, I have got to calm down here. Let’s just take a look at some crimes car­ried out by book readers.

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

This is a pop­u­lar one, and prob­a­bly the first (and maybe only) book re­lat­ed killing most can think of.

The Catcher in the Rye is about a young man named Holden Caulfield who is in a men­tal in­sti­tute in the 1950s. He is writ­ing about his life ex­pe­ri­ences from when he was 16 years old to ex­plain his spi­ral down­ward as he avoid­ed grow­ing up — essentially.

Here’s a name you’ll prob­a­bly rec­og­nize. Mark David Chapman. He was the man who shot ex-Beatles mem­ber John Lennon, and was suf­fer­ing from mul­ti­ple men­tal dis­or­ders that were un­med­icat­ed. He picked up The Catcher in the Rye, and con­vinced him­self he was the main char­ac­ter of the book. He felt the char­ac­ter res­onat­ed with him, way more than he should’ve, and thus be­came ob­sessed with read­ing it.

He was also ob­sessed with pro­tect­ing the in­no­cence of chil­dren, as he loved them as much as Holden Caulfield did. Before shoot­ing Lennon, Chapman bought a copy of the book and wrote in it “This is my state­ment,” and signed his own name as Holden Caulfield. After pulling the trig­ger, Chapman sat and red The Catcher in the Rye till the cops showed up.

Rage by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King)

This ti­tle was a rather vi­o­lent book about a young man who shoots up his school, and kills staff. Somewhere down the line he takes oth­er stu­dents hostage, and they de­vel­op Stockholm’s Syndrome and bond over this… somehow.

It’s said that the Columbine shoot­ers read this, and it can be at­trib­uted to the mas­sacre at that school. But the events I want­ed to bring up are two cas­es of high school­ers ex­plic­it­ly act­ing out what they’ve read in this book.

The first is Jeffrey Lyne Cox, a high school se­nior from a trou­bled home who read Rage and felt it res­onat­ed with him. He de­cid­ed to hold his Humanities class hostage on April 26th, 1988. He de­mand­ed a mil­lion dol­lars and a tick­et to Brazil. His plot hinged on the oth­er stu­dents act­ing the way those in Rage did, but he was wrong. He took his eyes off of his ri­fle for a mo­ment, and an­oth­er stu­dent wres­tled it away from him. The au­thor­i­ties were able to ap­pre­hend Cox, and he was giv­en 10 years in prison.

A 15 year old named Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his school on February the 2nd, 1996. He was in­spired by Rage to shoot his Algebra teacher to death, and two oth­er 14 year old stu­dents, wound­ing one oth­er. He’s cur­rent­ly serv­ing two life sen­tences, and an ex­tra 205 years — if it wasn’t al­ready overkill.

Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

This book is about vam­pires, and not the shit kind. In it, the vam­pire Lestat be­comes a rock star, and piss­es off vam­pire so­ci­ety big time by get­ting fa­mous and be­ing open about his vampirism.

In 2003 a 22 year old Allan Menzies be­lieved he was vis­it­ed by the char­ac­ter Akasha from Queen of the Damned, and she told him to kill and she would turn him into a vam­pire. So he killed a friend, drank his blood, and en­list­ed his fa­ther and an­oth­er friend to get rid of the body af­ter­wards. He was soon ar­rest­ed for mur­der, but killed him­self in his cell.

These peo­ple, for the most part, came from bro­ken fam­i­lies and had un­treat­ed men­tal ill­ness­es. Just like the ma­jor­i­ty of peo­ple who just hap­pen to play video games and go on to kill peo­ple. Mentally healthy peo­ple can read books and be just fine. The same goes for video games.

Normally, peo­ple would just call these nov­el copy­cats just some crazy peo­ple who took a book too far. Some more ex­trem­ist types may ac­tu­al­ly blame the books and try to ban them, but not as many peo­ple jump on the “BOOKS ARE EVIL AND A BAD INFLUENCE!” band­wag­on as they do the video game one, that’s for sure.

This is just a look at some of the things that make me want to go watch Netflix and cry.

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