Hey, remember that asshole who shot up a Dark Knight Rises screening back in July? Know who that guy’s favorite bands were? I don’t either, because here’s the thing: The media never reported it. We know he booby-trapped his apartment the night of the shootings and blasted what has been described as a “techno song that sounded like it included gunshots” on an endless loop—an attempt, apparently, to lure the neighbors into breaking down his door and thereby blowing the place up. We even know from his Match.com profile that he was into techno and electronic music, but hated dubstep. (Wow, dubstep, even mass murderers hate you now. Talk about a backlash.)
But the media response to those details has been a giant collective shrug. No one’s even bothered to find out what the song was he tried to kill his neighbors with. They’d rather psychoanalyze his other dating profile on Adult Friendfinder and his obsession with comic book characters, because apparently that is all somehow more germane to this horrible tragedy than the fact a grad school dropout had access to enough automatic weapons to shoot 70 people in a matter of minutes.
I harp on the whole music thing because this past week, a thankfully much more inept gunman showed up on the first day of school with his stepfather’s antique shotgun and blew a hole in a kid with Down syndrome. And within 24 hours, the New York Daily News was reporting on the story with this headline: “Teenager who allegedly opened fire in Baltimore area high school was heavy metal misfit obsessed with Rammstein and Manson Family.”
Granted, the alleged Baltimore shooter’s Facebook page (which, somewhat shockingly, is still up) does feature a prominent photo of Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann, looking slightly deranged as is his wont. So the whole Rammstein connection was pretty much handed to the media on a big silver social media platter. But you would think the better headline might be, oh I don’t know, “Teenager who allegedly opened fire in Baltimore area high school lived in a house full of guns with a criminal stepdad.”
So, to recap: Crazed, costumed gunman listens to techno—no big whoop. Crazed, shotgun-toting 15-year-old listens to Rammstein and Marilyn Manson—stop the presses!
Look, America, I get it: Heavy metal and industrial music are scary. Especially when sung in German. But there is zero correlation between listening to bands like Rammstein and going out and shooting people. Zero. None. If there were, Germany, where the band is far more popular, would be a Mad Max-like hellscape full of lunatics in black trench coats marauding through the streets and shooting everything in sight. But it’s not. 99.99% of all Rammstein fans can listen to a song like “Ich tu dir weh” (“I Want to Hurt You”) and not actually go out and hurt anyone. It’s sorta like how the rest of us can listen to a song like Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and not actually abandon our wife and kids.
Sooner or later, we as a society are going to have to stop blaming all this gun violence on music and cosplay and what ever other horseshit our sensationalist media latches onto and look at the main cause, which is easy access to guns. Until we can beef up enforcement of background checks and reinstate some kind of federal ban on assault weapons, these kind of incidents will continue to happen with far too much regularity. Blaming it all on a handful of provocative musicians is like blaming speeding on Sammy Hagar.
I know this is a divisive issue, so I expect a lot of you readers to passionately disagree with me about gun control. That’s fine. Leave your pro-Second Amendment comments below and we can continue the debate. But I hope we can at least all agree that dragging Rammstein into this conversation again (the same thing happened, you may recall, after Columbine) is almost as dumb as bringing a shotgun to school.