I’m staring at a blank screen, trying to figure out how to write about the thing I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. I won’t say his name: I won’t give him that. I won’t read his manifesto: I won’t give him that. I won’t watch his video: I won’t give him that. The Jagweed of Isla Vista, as I prefer to call him, doesn’t deserve our attention. So why can’t I stop thinking about him?
The Jagweed was born and raised in Hollywood. The Jagweed was “treated” by a Hollywood psychiatrist – in fact, this is the second client of note of that doctor to kill himself. The Jagweed also announced his intentions to the world not just through written words but also through a reportedly well-made video that included a scenic background of Hollywood’s iconic palm trees.
Why did the Jagweed of Isla Vista kill six people and injure thirteen more? Because he couldn’t get laid. He hated women for it, and he hated men that do get laid almost as much.
Initial media reports, of course, chose to focus on the Jagweed’s mental illness rather than his misogyny. Luckily feminists were not willing to let that stand, and they have since covered his relationship to the Men’s Rights Movement and Pick-Up-Artist Hate groups extensively. Washington Post media critic Ann Hornaday even went so far as to wonder whether Hollywood culture, as created by rich, white men, had given this Jagweed the mistaken notion that his money and his masculinity entitled him to sex. As you can imagine, the rich, white males running Hollywood did not take kindly to that.
The most powerful response to the tragedy appeared on twitter in the form of the massively trending hashtag #YesAllWomen. A response to #NotAllMen, which provides men with the opportunity to claim that sexism is not their responsibility because they’ve never personally done anything sexist (to which I say, really? Are you sure?), #YesAllWomen allows women to give voice to the constant sexual assaults and harassment that all women suffer. No, not all men are sexist. But all women are the victims of sexism. All the time. Every day. Every where.
I don’t imagine that #YesAllWomen will persuade MRAs and PUAs and PUAHaters or the men behind #NotAllMen that they bear any responsibility for creating a culture that views women as objects to be “gotten” and men as totally within their rights to punish women who refuse to be got. Hornaday didn’t even name Seth Rogen in her article (though she did name Judd Apatow), yet Rogen felt the need to defend himself and debunk her to his two million twitter followers, effectively silencing any conversation on the notion that film creates culture. Fan pages honoring the Jagweed have popped up on Facebook and, despite being flagged as hate sites, they have not been taken down. And of course MRA and PUAHate sites are ablaze with comments supporting his act of revenge on a world that refused to give him his due.
The truth is, film does create culture. So does Facebook. So does Twitter. So do YouTube videos like the one the Jagweed made. So do reality-TV shows like The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which featured a husband who beat his wife, sought mental health care from the same psychiatrist that “treated” the Jagweed, and eventually killed himself.
Is Hollywood to blame for a psychopath’s killing spree? Of course not. Is the Jagweed’s psychiatrist to blame that he refused to take his medicine? Probably not. Are his parents to blame for his inflated ego and sense of entitlement? Well, possibly. Are MRAs to blame for validating his hate and adding fuel to his fire? Definitely. Are lax gun laws to blame for putting weapons in the hands of a killer? For sure.
Hollywood is, in this case, the least of all the evils that plagued this fucked up, deranged, misogynist Jagweed. But Hollywood is not an innocent bystander, either. Film creates culture, and when film is created entirely by rich, white men, the culture created by film inevitably validates men like them and often invalidates the lives and desires and bodies of everyone else.
One of my favorite pieces of writing to come out of this so far is actually by a dude: Arthur Chu, a self-declared Nerd who is nevertheless able to recognize that just because he doesn’t fit the Hollywood stereotype of the alpha male does not mean that he is being systematically denied his rights as a man to “get the girl.” Chu exhorts his fellow men to accept the fact that it’s not up to them whether and with whom women have sex. It’s up to women:
We need to get that. Really, really grok that, if our half of the species ever going to be worth a damn. Not getting that means that there will always be some percent of us who will be rapists, and abusers, and killers. And it means that the rest of us will always, on some fundamental level, be stupid and wrong when it comes to trying to understand the women we claim to love.
What did [the Jagweed] need? He didn’t need to get laid. None of us nerdy frustrated guys need to get laid. When I was an asshole with rants full of self-pity and entitlement, getting laid would not have helped me.
He needed to grow up.
We all do.
A few weekends ago, I made a pass at a guy at a party who not only rejected me, he also spent much of the party flirting with someone else. Sure, my pride was injured. Sure, I was disappointed. And it’s certainly not the first time I’ve been rejected. I was never the popular girl: in fact I’ve had all of two boyfriends in my whole life, one of whom became a husband who ultimately rejected me in the most profound way possible: he left me for another woman, told me that it was because I didn’t make enough money, and blamed me for everything from his failed career to his dysfunctional relationship with his mother.
What’s the diff between me and the Jagweed? I haven’t been hearing the message my whole life that I should get whatever I want whenever I want it, so I didn’t pick up a gun and punish the world because I couldn’t get laid. Instead, I grew up.