Re-enactment and Rambo

Heard the news about the Alabama killing spree this morning and my heart sank.  I once heard an improbable deconstruction of the Hungerford massacre by the journalist Tom Davies where he pointed to the parallels between the journey of the gunman from a forest, through a conflagration at a service station to a showdown in a factory. Tom had picked over the smoking ruins of Ryan's house and found a video of Rambo which he handed in. The police weren't having anything to do with such a crackpot theory – Cracker and criminal psychology had not yet reached our TV screens. But if we send out direct mail and expect an bevioural response from a minority then is it beyond consideration that certain storylines resonate with a tiny minority who use them as mental furniture to enact their fantasies?  The first byline of the Alabama story was that the gunman went and shot up a petrol station – which was why it snagged my attention.

I'm not sure what conclusions we draw from this. I'm not advocating the banning of books and films because of the actions of a tiny minority.  It might be that we might find evidence of strong culture memes in these extreme behaviours at the margin of human norms – a kind of gruesome tracking study. Simply that we recognise that enactment and imitation are a human activity and are more common than we realise. That aside if you hear there's a maniac on the loose be sure to avoid petrol stations if yoy possibly can!



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