Perhaps you've heard about the Japanese man who went on a murderous rampage in Tokyo. The man is being described as a "disturbed young auto worker"
but also as a comics and video games fan. His stabbings did take place in the part of town that caters to those with those interests, and his slow unveiling of his master plans via his cell phone do seem the stuff of movies, comic, and games.
But, there was a time when the idea of collapsing buildings with jets seemed the stuff of Hollywood imagination or super-hero comics as well. After 9/11, some comic book creators were asked by the government to help think of ways terrorists might attack the USA. Our technology, our politics and our environs simply aren't so far removed from what people think of when they hear the word "comic books" anymore. To focus on this man's affinity for comics and games without acknowledging the violence and scariness of the real world seems irresponsible to me. But, we often try to look for any possible link to help us make sense of senseless crimes. Here, it seems to me the emphasis needs to be on mental illness, first and foremost.
Yet apparently some media are making much of the young man's comics fandom. I dislike hearing stories like this because detractors do not need much to spin their dislike for comics as teaching tools into a crisis of illiteracy, dumbing down, and danger. I remember an anecdote from Wright's Comic Book Nation
in which he details how to two young boys stole an airplane and piloted it cross-country. When finally caught by authorities, they asked the two where they learned to do stuff like that. "In the comic books!" the boys replied. Now that's delinquency, sure (theft), but it's also education!! (assuming there's any truth to the story, of course. Wouldn't it be great to learn how to fly a plane from a comic book?)
Let's focus more on this man being disturbed first than on his being a comics reader. Young people and adults can get ideas to do all sorts of horrible things from any number of sources, their parents, teachers, history and humanity in general, but it takes a specific mindset to actually carry out random acts of violence. I think it would reveal a pretty weak faith in the intelligence of mankind to assume that a previously mentally stable adult sees such acts in the media he consumes and then copies it without there being other issues at play beyond and prior to the media stimulation.
Kids are more impressionable, sure. I certainly pile-drove and clothes-lined my brothers more than once after watching WWF (as it was called back then) and NWA wrestling on the television. And, my oldest son never wanted to pull our cat's tail until he saw kids do it to their cats in children's books No No Yes Yes
. Kids often try out what they see or want to do so -- in any and all facets of their lives -- which is why they need adults to help them make sense of possible influences.
My prayers to the victims, the families, and the young man with the hopes that the future surrounding him and those he harmed will hold a focus on justice, aid, and healing rather than on an interest in comics and gaming. Though, let us not forget that justice, aid, and healing are concepts found in many comics and video games as well...........