Some things in life cannot be ignored, and the Sandy Hook massacre is one of them. Naturally, this is a very heavy issue and we’re not going to pretend to have the answers, or try to force our opinions on anyone regarding the gun debate, etc. As a music website, however, there is one issue we want to address in the press’s handling of this matter. When horrors such as this occur, the world looks for motives and reasons, and in this flurry of finding a cause, the Daily Mail is one of the growing number tilting and hinting towards music, or goth culture.
These comments may just be a mention here or there about him being “one of the goths”, as quoted by someone who knew him, and that his “alternative style” was noted. We understand that each outlet is trying to build a full picture of the man in question, in search of some motive, but what the Daily Mail, and others, are doing is lending to a negative image because of this sub-culture he was said to be in. Take this article’s headline: “The mother who taught ‘goth loner’ son to shoot…”
Or, take this one from The Mirror: “He was a nerd, genius, Goth”: Profile of gun killer [name]”.
It also quotes: “He wore black clothing and his face was white. He and his brother hung around with a weird little gang.” In articles describing him as a goth, he is described to be an outsider and a loner, placing some form of blame on this facet of his personality.
I mean – LOOK at that headline on the right. ‘Revenge of the ‘Goth’ Loner’. Is this really what we should be focusing on?
If anything, there’s no evidence as to his being goth other than offhand qutoes about him wearing black and listening to ‘gothic music’, whatever that may be.
We’ve seen quite a few tweets regarding this across articles –
– Just because AdamLanza always wear black doesn’t makes him a goth you ignorant media. Terrible misjudgement by Daily Mail
– A rare serious tweet, in response to
@MailOnline‘s Sandy Hook reporting. Guns caused the tragedy. Not metal, rock or punk. Guns
– This isnt news this is crap. Way to stigmatize large groups of people, most of which harm no one http://www.capitalbay.com/uk/282239-adam-lanza-how-honor-student-became-goth-killer-massacring-20-children-at-sandy-hook-elementary.html …
Being ‘goth’ or liking ‘goth music’, if that was the case for this man, is not something to make a headline out of. Look at the person, look at the potential mental health issues, look at the problems he faced. There’s where you should be looking for answers, not with his music and whether or not he played violent video games. People who knew him said they believed he has Aspergers and that he had difficulties integrating with those around him, or that the break up of his parents had provoked a change that he couldn’t deal with – there are two factors worth consideration far above his ‘goth’ like nature.
Music isn’t being blamed outright, as has been the case in the past, but it’s clear that the sub-culture he may have belonged to is being used as a driving force in the media to paint him as deranged and an outsider capable of these atrocities. Earlier this year a 15 year old gunman was boldly described as a ‘fan of Marilyn Manson and Rammstein’ before anything else, both of which were mere ‘likes’ on his Facebook page.
Most famously, Marilyn Manson received the blame for the Columbine massacre, and in turn said one of the most defining quotes of his career, which we find aptly appropriate every time something like this happens:
“When it comes down to who’s to blame for the high school murders in Littleton, Colorado, throw a rock and you’ll hit someone who’s guilty. We’re the people who sit back and tolerate children owning guns, and we’re the ones who tune in and watch the up-to-the-minute details of what they do with them.
“Man’s greatest fear is chaos. It was unthinkable that these kids did not have a simple black-and-white reason for their actions. And so a scapegoat was needed. I remember hearing the initial reports from Littleton, that [they] were wearing makeup and were dressed like Marilyn Manson, whom they obviously must worship, since they were dressed in black. Of course, speculation snowballed into making me the poster boy for everything that is bad in the world.”
When asked what he would say to the shooter behind Columbine, he simply said:
“I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”
And it’s this attitude that needs to be enforced in the media. Look for the real reasons and not superficial, sweeping stereotypes to paint him as an outsider. Mental health has a broad spectrum and anyone willing to walk into a school and do the horrific things he did was clearly someone with issues beyond what he could handle. Time and time again disturbed individuals are splashed across the internet and worldwide press with the focus all wrong.
You keep painting killers as goths when it’s irrelevant and you’re doing two things. You’re undermining the real problems behind what provoked the atrocity. Though his actions cannot be undone, understanding the truth of his mental issues can lend to how it could have been tackled and then other people in future can receive desperately needed help before it gets to this point. How many times must these atrocities occur before opinions in how to deal with them changes? By trying to be quickest to point the blame at the black clothing, you’re not taking your job seriously, nor are you taking the responsibility to try and prevent these instances happening in future.
You’re also undermining the alternative community by painting them as outsiders and loners. Yes, stereotypes are everywhere, but wearing black, being goth or liking alternative music should not make you almost synonymous with massacres, but every time this happens we get one step closer to that link being solid.
Focusing on the real issues of mental health will not stop bad things happening. Nor will changing gun policies. But these are the factors that need to be considered for a vast overhaul in how people think, act and are governed in order to help understand what can lead to these horrors, and stop many of them before it gets that far. Too many innocent people are losing their lives because of issues that people don’t take seriously, or turn a blind eye to. The latest incident is a complete tragedy – surely now is when the press should start pointing their power towards the right factors.
Blaming goth culture or anything similar will help nothing. If he’s a loner, look at why. If he’s deranged, look at why. Nothing can undo what has been done, but sweeping it under the carpet of a stereotype means that we will never move forward, and attitudes need to change towards these massive underlying issues.
It may be easier to find stereotype as a scapegoat, but how many more of these instances will it take before this changes?
Our hearts go out to all those affected by the Sandy Hook shooting. We were wary of posting this because it may come off to some as trying to make issue of something outwith the shooting, but we collectively want the mainstream press to understand the damage they’re doing with choosing labels over the real issues, including guns and mental health attitudes.