Bang Bang You’re Dead

What a chilly day here at Beggars Tomb. I am continuing to fight and cold and there really does not seem to be any relief in sight. A lot has happened in the past few days. We have had an inauguration, Kim Dotcom has returned to the file sharing game with a new site and the battle for gun control still is heating up as more and more local sheriffs are vowing not to enforce and of Obama’s executive orders that impede the second amendment. Anytime anything is done as a knee jerk reaction the odds are it is not going to be the best solution for the problem. The gun control issue is a prime example of this. One side is calling for bans and stricter laws, you have Hollywood out in force rallying the troops to ban guns when the majority of the actors and actresses that are calling for gun control have made millions off of projects they were in that in fact portrayed gun violence. Are they willing to give the money they made back because gun violence is bad? Of course not! The problem with any form of gun control is that guns are not the problem. Bullets are not the problem. The problem is people. Guns and bullets are merely tools that can be used to obtain and end. People kill people. If you want to control gun crime in this country you need to first address the human aspect of it, because without that the guns remain silent. We need to re-evaluate what we as a society have set as priorities and what we are showing our children in movies, television and video games. In 1999 William Mastrosimone wrote a play to raise awareness of school violenece. The plot focuses on Josh, a high school student who murders his parents and five classmates. It is strongly based on the events surrounding Kip Kinkel’s shootings of his parents on May 20, 1998, and 27 of his classmates at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon on May 21, 1998. Essentially, we follow a school shooter in the aftermath of the school shooting as he is in his cell and is visited by the ghosts of his victims.

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead! opens in Josh’s jail cell after he has killed his parents and five classmates. The ghosts of those classmates demand to know why he killed them. Actors 1 and 3 enter as Josh’s father and mother. Flashing back, Josh tries to manipulate his parents into buying the gun, his manipulation showing as his parents exit arguing. Josh laughs to himself and says “divide and conquer. Works every time.” The ghosts enclose and push Josh, describing the “hell” he will live in until he answers them. Josh tries to shrug off this torment, but the ghosts seize Josh and push him into his coffin. He screams until he is let out, and “begins to look at the deceased with new respect”.

Josh flashes back to a hunting trip, narrated by the ghosts. Josh sees a buck, but he cannot kill it. The ghosts describe Josh’s response to his struggle in a significant series of five lines that is repeated throughout the play:

Michael: So you make your face a mask.

Katie: A mask that hides your face.

Matt: A face that hides the pain.

Jesse: A pain that eats your heart.

Emily: A heart nobody knows.

Josh kills the buck, but is tormented by what he has just done. He hides his tears and brags about it the next day at school.

Josh is called to the school office and is accused of writing threatening words on a blackboard. Josh’s parents take away his gun and send him to a psychotherapist. Josh contemplates suicide as voices in the dark taunt him, overwhelming him. A voice in the dark tells Josh to “stop the voices another way.” Josh kills his parents, and, in a monologue, reveals the daily pain he endures. The scene changes to the school cafeteria, and the ghosts once again ask him why he killed them, smearing ketchup where their gunshot wounds were. They then ignore Josh, speaking of what they miss and what they will never do. Josh, in realization, exclaims “I never thought I was taking away all that!” The ghosts tell Josh that they will haunt him for the rest of his life, shouting “DEAD!” one by one, and falling to the ground. The play ends with Josh’s monologue:

I didn’t know it would be forever. I thought it was “bang

bang you’re dead” again. I thought I could just hit the reset

button and start over. Why can’t I have another chance?

When I killed you I killed all my possibilities, too.

I’ll never have anything to look forward to. Never.

Is this the rest of my life?

(Josh goes to his knees, devastated)

Oh God. [sobbing]

How many of our young people are going through life wearing a mask to hide their pain. Our society is filled with holes that do allow some kids to slip through. Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Kip Kinkel, Adam Lanza, all are examples of children that we as a society have failed. We continue to fail our children as we allow the bastardization of principles and ideals that this once great nation stood for. We no longer expect anything out of children we have allowed them to run amuck because we have taken the ability of parents to parent. We have removed any all things that require structure in our lives and wonder why there is chaos. So many of our kids I think fail to understand that life is permanent. Just like Josh in Bang Bang you’re Dead. They are so used to being able to hit the reset button and things start all over that they no longer can differentiate between their alternate reality and reality. Gun control is and never will be about legislation, it is about addressing the issues that affect our society that have caused its foundations to crumble and corrode. When we are really serious about wanting to stop gun violence then we will take a hard look at how we have gotten into the situation that we have and make serious efforts to change the societal pressures that continue to drive our children to kill. We make them into killers and then wonder why they do it. Until that the time we are serious about the mental health of our society all the legislation in the world will do little to stop the violence because it does not stop the pain our children and feeling and facing. Kids are the most cruel creatures on the Earth toward one another and they learn it from the adults they around. Maybe we need better role models instead of gun toting rappers and sex tape heiresses. Maybe we need to lay some of the blame where it belongs and look in the mirror because we collectively have allowed the cancer that has decimated our society.

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