Did Foster the People Foster the Shooting?
I was horrified to hear about another school shooting today. This time it occurred in the small Ohio town of Chardon. At around 7:30 a.m. Eastern Time this morning a student entered the cafeteria at Chardon High School and opened fire. The shooter shot five students, leaving one fatally injured.
My most sincere thoughts are with the families of the four victims in the hospital and the family of the victim, who was taken much to soon.
Shortly after the shooting, police were able to ascertain the suspect, a sophomore, because he is a minor and no charges have been filed we shall withhold his name. The news has been full of stories of the suspect today. Students have been speaking with media outlets about him being a loner, coming from a broken home, and things of that nature.
I remembered reading in many of the news reports, including this CNN article, stating that the suspect allegedly posted the following photo on Twitter last night, and one student told CNN that, “I think he said that he was going to bring a gun to school and I think that everyone just blew it off like he was joking.”
Also leaked throughout the day online was the suspect’s alleged Facebook page. While only some information is visible to those who were not his “friend” on the site, there were some glimpses into this young man’s life. One thing you could see were some of the people he admires, including David Icke, a conspiracy theorist. He also had a list of several music artists he likes.
On the suspect’s Facebook page it lists the band Bright Eyes as one of his favorites. Here are some of the lyrics (typical of a Bright Eyes song) from their song “I Won’t Ever Be Happy Again:”
So, I mean, here we go, but there ain’t no escape. These streets are just dead ends, so I won’t ever be happy again. Now it seems that you too see a painful blue when you stare into the sky. You could never understand the movement of a hand waving goodbye.
The other bands listed included Adele, The People’s Key, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, and Blue Oyster Cult. That got me thinking about music and its effect on a person.
Recently there has been one song that has become increasingly popular for its catchy indie sound—even though it’s about a school shooting, “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People.
In an interview with Gimme Noise, the band’s lead singer Mark Foster dished on the meaning of the song and where it came from:
The song is about a teenage kid that is trapped, isolated, and basically hates his life. So he’s pretty much fantasizing going on a killing spree. For me, I write in character a lot, so I like to write stories from other people’s perspectives. That song in particular, I was thinking and kind of burnt by ‘How often does this happen?’ More kids are getting guns, and shooting people, and these things are happening younger and younger, 14 or 13 years old. It’s turning into an epidemic for American youth. I wanted to infiltrate, and dig beneath the surface and get into the psychology of what’s going on in a kid’s mind like that.
While his mission seems that of someone who wants to change this ‘epidemic’ doesn’t the song’s upbeat tone undermine that? Have we as a culture become desensitized to these situations? Does the song glorify these feelings of emptiness and hatred?
I do not know the answer. At times like this, people seem to place the blame anywhere they can, and I am certainly not accusing these musical artists of causing this tragedy. I am merely wondering if these school shootings are still ‘isolated incidents’ committed by ‘seriously disturbed individuals.’ Perhaps we as a society need to analyze our own culture and think about what we are doing to drive these young kids over the edge.