In the immortal words of Jay-Z: ‘Whatever deity may guide my life, dear lord don’t let me die tonight. But if I shall before I wake, I’d accept my fate.’
—Roadblock, “GI Joe: Retaliation”
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
—Christopher Dorner, manifesto
COBRA IS REAL!!!
Only days after a blackout at the Super Bowl in which the super-villain Bane was invoked on social media as possibly being the cause, the news lit up with another mass shooting spree. This time the suspect was Christopher Dorner, 33, an involuntarily dismissed Los Angeles police officer. Feeling that his termination from the force was unfair, he did what any American would do…declare “unconventional and asymmetric warfare” on the LAPD.
Oh, fuck…here we go again.
I. OF FANS AND FOES
Dorner’s rampage, which resulted in four deaths, came complete with a manifesto posted to Facebook…and “folk-hero” status bestowed by part of the public. He also had several Facebook appreciation pages and many supporters. In this respect, his notoriety matched that of “Joker” James Holmes, who had a Tumblr fan-base and groupies who called themselves “Holmies.”
Let’s visit our Year Of The Mask high-profile crime timeline, shall we?
July 20, 2012: James Holmes kills 12 at an Aurora movie theatre
December 14, 2012: Adam Lanza kills 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School
February 3, 2013: Chris Dorner kills 4 throughout California
Out of the three perpetrators, Holmes and Dorner had a group of fans. Perhaps Lanza’s lack of a fanbase had something to do with the utterly horrific details of the the case—his victims mostly little children. He also lacked the “Batman” connection of Holmes, and the (as we will soon see) media-awareness of Dorner. (Instead of admirers, Lanza would create a different type of online “cult”…of those who didn’t even believe that the Sandy Hook shooting happened at all.)
These were events heavily reported on by the media—and they are but a fraction of the mass shootings that occurred during that timeframe. The August 2012 shooting of six in an Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh temple by white supremacist Wade Michael Page was also a “headline” story for the news outlets—but not nearly as as much as these other three. I hate to ask the obvious, but did the fact that the victims were all Sikhs render the event less “sellable” as a news story for the American masses?
Because the dirty no-so-secret truth of it was, is—the story has to “sell.” It needs a “hook.”
It needs something to “tie into.”
II. A REAL AMERICAN HERO?
While Dorner’s 7-day manhunt went on, ads and promotions for the upcoming flick G.I. Joe: Retaliation were all over the media. In the movie, the team was framed for a crime they didn’t commit by a government infiltrated by Cobra. And so the Joes have to clear their name; that’s the plot of the movie.
If it could happen to the Joes…certainly couldn’t it have happened to Dorner as well?
The question is, what would you do to clear your name?
Apparently tossing in some good words for certain parties (Anonymous, Charlie Sheen, POTUS, etc.) in his 20-page manifesto gave some people the “OK” sign that this guy was a true and legit “anti-hero” on the run, in the mold of Billy Jack, Rambo, and etc. You know: “Fuck the NRA,” but love The Hangover and Christoph Waltz. I mean, it’s fucking adorable almost, right?
This is not to minimize his points regarding racism and corruption in the LAPD—whistleblowers are indeed treated like crap and discredited, and this particular police force has had a terrible rep for many decades. I truly understand his frustration with such a scenario, such corruption unfortunately being the warp and weft of much of our current society.
But the cult that had formed around Dorner seemed to be of a similar cloth as those built around “right wing” killers such as Tim McVeigh—people aggrieved with the system who identified themselves as “true patriots.”
Folk Heroes? Real American Heroes? Anti-Heroes?
To put it in terms of the popular parlance: was Dorner Bane or Batman?
Doesn’t matter, because in the end we all still lose.
III. RAMBO AND THE TERMINATOR
Dorner’s “Manifesto” is indeed a compelling read, but also quite contradictory. He wrote at length about how we should have gun control, but also used this “Patriot” verbage and quotage that is classic “Tea Party”/Alex Jones:
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants
Dorner wrote that he was not fighting against the U.S. Government, but his talk of righteous vengeance against “dirtbags” (and their families) mirrored a similar viewpoint that some members of the extreme “right” fringe have expressed.
But regardless of being on the Left or the Right, everybody wants a superhero—they want a figure to believe in.
It’s just that Right or Left, we’re fighting against each other—flinging names across the barrier—and not really looking at the important issues. We want drama and superheroes and saviors too much. And in an oft-dreary world, maybe this constant turnover of such figures—whether they are made-up or real or “real” or who the fuck knows—is needed as a catharsis, a palate cleanser, a release valve, a shot of Prozac, something.
Lost in the media and social media clutter is the fact that a 28-year-old woman was murdered—who, according to said Dorner manifesto, “deserved” to die:
I never had the opportunity to have a family of my own, I’m terminating yours.
And so the “Dorner Manifesto” accomplished two seemingly disparate goals:
1) Discredit OWS/Anonymous movements by goading them into backing a person who, under scrutiny, really shouldn’t be backed or emulated.
2) Discredit NRA/”gun nuts” by making a strong argument for tight gun control laws— not just by example of violence but actually making a premeditated, long, specific argument in the manifesto itself for said laws.
That’s strange and contradictory to me, but that was the nature of Dorner’s manifesto. In the end, it was about playing both sides against each other (albeit unintentionally).
Really, if you were writing a movie—or purposely manipulating the public—you could not have done better than this story of a “modern day Rambo”. It was media GOLD.
IV. EVERY MAN AND EVERY WOMAN IS A STAR
Of course, Dorner himself was just being used—whether as a devil to the Right, or a “hero” to the Left. Being used to sell papers and running up web hits. Used by Charlie Sheen to sell his own fucking movie, a movie that just happened to come out at the same time he made a public appeal to Dorner to contact him and “talk it out.”
And, just as in the James Holmes case and so many others, Dorner’s “rise to fame” would doubtless be an example for other unstable people.
And maybe that explains so many references to movie stars and other celebrities in Dorner’s manifesto. In the end, not only did the public (feeling helpless and nondescript) “need” a hero—but individual persons (feeling helpless and nondescript) needed to feel popular. Needed to feel heard—but more than heard, needed to feel like they were celebrities themselves.
It’s kind of sad I won’t be around to view and enjoy The Hangover III. What an awesome trilogy.
I want to leave you with two videos. The first is a theoretically “tongue in cheek” promo video for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, done in the style of an Army recruitment ad. This video debuted almost around the exact same time Dorner started his shooting rampage:
And the second, a rant by Alex Jones using an extended G.I. Joe/pop-culture metaphor as he claims that “Cobra is real”:
Once again, it is the ouroboros of fantasy and reality. Where does it begin and where does it end? How much is consciously manufactured by the media, politicians, and the entertainment industry? How much is merely coincidence?
I leave you with this definition of “coincidence” by author Arthur Koestler:
Coincidence may be described as the chance encounter of two unrelated causal chains which—miraculously it seems—merge into a significant event. It provides the neatest paradigm of the bisociation of previously separate contexts, engineered by fate. Coincidences are puns of destiny.
There will be no deficit in “puns of destiny” as we continue The Year Of The Mask.