11.08.2007

The Finland School Shooting: Globalizing the Glorification of Violence

by Robin Forman*

Apparently school shootings and teen angst are not confined to America.

Tragedy struck Finland Wednesday when an 18-year-old shot and killed at least eight people (including seven children) in a school in the city of Tuusula.

Not only is teen angst a universal language in this case, but YouTube is as well.

The killer posted a video on YouTube hours before the school shooting, predicting the incident.

The YouTube video, entitled "Jokela High School Massacre - 11/7/2007," was posted by a user called Sturmgeist89. “Sturmgeist” means “storm spirit” in German.

The YouTube video, set to a song called "Stray Bullet" by the industrial metal band KMFDM shows a still photo of a low building that appears to be Jokela High School. The photo breaks apart to reveal a red-tinted picture of a man pointing a handgun at the camera.

The video is no longer available on YouTube. (YouTube yanked the video within hours of its posting.)

However, it seems the age of the video killer is upon us.

If you’ll remember the unfortunate events at Virginia Tech this past spring, the killer in that case had used the time in between shootings to mail a video of himself to NBC News.

There’s nothing quite like a video released before, after, or during your murder spree to shoot you right into the front page headlines. CNN has been showing clips of the video from Finland just about every 20 minutes since the story hit the news wires.

Do you remember how many times we saw the shoddy cell phone video from the Virginia Tech shootings? Or how about NBC holding off the release of the video from the Virginia Tech killer then playing it complete with a disclaimer basically saying “this was a tough decision, we opted for ratings.” (Please see: "NBC Takes the Bait from Virgina Tech's Madman.")

What we need to look at is not gun control or violence in music or on the TV, it’s in glorifying the real people who do these things. These videos seal these killers in infamy, and despite the negativity, fame is fame. In a day and age when we’re obsessed with celebrity and fame it seems like the quickest way to immortality and, honestly, revenge we’re sending the message that there’s no bigger way to go out. (For a commentary on that issue regarding the Virgina Tech case, please see: "How the Media Reframe Mass Murder.")

On a sad side note: according the United Nations' Human Development Index, Finland is ranked as the world’s sixth happiest nation.

(For another take on school shootings, please see: "Bang, Bang, We're Dead.")

*Robin Forman is a freelance television producer who frequently works for ABC News.

(Political cartoon from radicalgraphics.org, which offers its material for free.)











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