by Joel Wendland
Mass shootings that appear to be at epidemic proportions these days derive from the social and cultural problems of male rage and hyprmasculinity, according to UCLA Professor Douglas Kellner in an interview with ScienceDaily.com. Images that glorify male violence are perpetuated in news media, TV shows, popular movies, and new media like the Internet, says Kellner.
Mass killings such as the campus shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University or the recent mall shooting in Nebraska are not isolated or individual problems, he argues. They cannot be separated from "the broader context of American culture and society and finds that in each case, the male perpetrators suffered from problems of socialization, alienation and the search for identity in a culture that holds up guns and militarism as potent symbols of masculinity."
As such Kellner recommends a comprehensive public policy reform to help solve the problem: stricter gun control policy, better mental health care on campuses and in communities, better security and safety in workplaces and on campuses, and the projection of positive and constructive images of masculinity not infused with glorifications of violence.
Kellner believes, according to the article, that "the male perpetrators [of mass killings] suffered from problems of socialization, alienation and the search for identity in a culture that holds up guns and militarism as potent symbols of masculinity."
Clearly, IMO, these are not just problems of culture, i.e. problems of male rage promoted by destructive "Rambo" images in popular culture. This is a problem of capitalism. Capitalism, especially under ultra-right dominance, which promotes war and imperialism as positive masculine occupations, has failed to provide a society in which personal fulfillment, community construction, and satisfactory methods of self-identification are readily available.
Grinding economic insecurity (not to mention poverty) and lack of access to more fulfilling occupations (in some communities intensified by racism and national oppression) are the modern characteristics of contemporary capitalism. To this is added the ultra right's rejection of any rational notion that these kinds of issues are anything but personal problems.
In a culture infused with violent masculinity, of course, men and boys who believe that gun culture is the best mode of self-expression are going to lash out.
For women, the counterpart is a similar sort of violence turned inward. Mental health issues from drug addiction to eating disorders that afflict women pervade American society more than ever.