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Killing at Virginia Tech University and Taxi Driver


I have not posted for more than 10 days. This is because I have been heavily involved in new classes and administrative works in our college since the beginning of this month.

But I would like to say a word about the mass killing at Virginia Tech University. New York Times published an essay which insists that the killer, Cho Seung-Hui, might have been influenced by the Korean violence movie, "Oldboy." ("Virginia Tech killer's hammer photograph resembles the violent South Korean movie 'Oldboy'", New York Times, International Herald Tribune, April 19,2007)

I have never seen that Korean movie, but what came to my mind when I first saw the photos of the killer was the American movie, Taxi Driver, and its hero, Travis Bickle. It is hard to explain, but I cannot help thinking that Cho Seung-Hui and Travis Bickle share the same illness, the illness which many Americans might have at the deep layer of their consciousness, that is to say, a craving for bloodshed, violence, and mass killing. Everytime I saw American movies I wondered why American movies were filled with so many violent killing scenes with very realistic sounds. For instance, even the Hollywood enternainment film, Patriot Games, is filled with homicide scenes throughout the film, to say nothing of such indie films as Pulp Fiction and others.

What I want to emphasize here is that it is American movies' bloodthirstiness, not Korean ones deeply influenced by Hollywood, that should be pointed out and criticized. And we have to think deeply about why there are so many homicide scenes in Hollywood movies. I can smell their craving for bloodshed, and I doubt this subconscious might support their mighty American army. Remember Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Cho Seung-Hui was born in Korea, but he spent his adolescence in the US, in this sense, he is a son of America, and his illness must have some connection with the pathology of American society.

Photo: Zushi Coast

  -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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Isn't that a "either/or" argument. I thought Life Studies was about the consequences of the inclusive rather than the exclusive?

Kind regards

Isn't that a "either/or" argument?. Isn't Life Studies about the consequences of the inclusive rather than the exclusive?

Kind regards

Simon, thank you for your comment. I am sorry if my post looks either/or argument. My point was the influence of American movies, and ordinary people's support of violent & bloody movies (Of course there are many people in many countries who like violent movies). I presume there are some connections between Americans' love of guns and the prevalence of violence in American movies. By the way, why do Americans keep on persisting in having guns? In Japan, having guns is strictly forbidden, and I think this is a sound social policy.

Hi Morioka,
A sad thing where I live in Australia, is that most people around me seem to have become de-sensitised to the real life massacres. When we had the port arthur killings in 1996? It shook the nation, since then the real life in newspapers blends with the fantasy horror of contemporary cinema/manga. Another thought is, just as we have become distanced from feeling the true horrors of such events through observing through the safety of the media, so has the modern day soldier since the advent of the gun. Even in combat a soldier can kill at a distance, and maybe never see his foe fall. This is a very different world to the days where wars were fought as hand to hand combat(or swords)....it got very personal in those days. I think he who uses a gun to kill in society today, may think twice if they had to kill up and personal....food for thought. Hey love your blog. Your work and study looks very interesting. Paid to be a philosopher....what a life :-) Maemuki

I think the Virginia Tech Killer had bottled-up rage due to uncontrollable forces that he couldn't overcome peacefully in his life, mostly sexual and isolation. Since he couldn't express these in any form he used his most primal expression when someone feels he/she is has their back to the wall and there is not escape from (at least in his mind) advancing forces. These forces he anthroporphized into an evil society that couldn't love (he made references to this as many loonies do by referring to Jesus Christ).

I think, if any movie, it may have been the influential Matrix movie where Neo sees himself as the "One"-- the Redeemer-- who uses guns to overcome the evil forces pervading Goodness.

Seung-Hui ultimately manifested the action sequences that were going on in his mind and made his story real in the plane of the American media-induced society. He was Neo and he was also the villain inside his own imagination. He played out for the real world to see what no one cared for when he was alive.

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