The Virginia Tech Massacre is very much palpable in the state of Virginia, yet it has retreated into the unspoken ether of our campus as it probably has for most other campuses around the state and country. But what might be deceiving about this subsiding is that I, like so many others, spend a majority of my life on a college campus in Virginia. And after watching the video below it occurs to me that I have gone out of my way to avoid thinking about the events that took place last April. The whole thing—as I remember it—so quickly became a surreal casualty count that got more and more horrific as the reports streamed in. Most students, staff, and faculty throughout Virginia were directly effected given that most everyone has family and friends at Virginia Tech whose lives they feared for.
Yet, despite this sense of general quietude we all try to settle into, the shooting did happen and we are still no closer to an explanation for the murderous insanity that took place that day. Families, friends and communities need to grieve, heal and struggle with emotions that may be the only thing more unfathomable than the act itself. Nonetheless our culture will have to return to that incident at some point to start making some sense of all that terror, as difficult as that may be. So, the following video struck a chord on some dark and profound level. Witnessing an abbreviated and powerfully uncomfortable game-based re-enactment of the massacre has me wondering why I have refused to think about this moment. The machinima based on Halo 3 tries to imagine that moment without unnecessary exploitation or an overt ideological ax to grind, in fact it was done as a project for a Criminal Justice class.
This video obviously deals with a very sensitive and, in many ways, unfathomable series of events so please consider this before watching it. This video is at once a strangely dislocated and compassionate space to enable re-visiting something that some of us may be dangerously inclined to bury deep in the far reaches of our psyche. I’m not sure re-visiting the event is necessarily right, nor am I certain that avoiding it is entirely healthy. There has got to be another way, and I don’t think this video is necessarily it, but it does raise an extremely important issue that most of us are probably petrified of, namely the fact that anyone would be crazy or insensitive or brave enough to begin to imagine it publicly.
Ths video was painful to watch. My fear with videos like this is the dehumanization of the victims. I understand sensitivity but I think we can go overboard with that just as we can any time we are trying to protect someone.
The victims of the VT massacre were humans. They danced,laughed cried, sang…and when they died they were frightened. They all left behind people who loved them, people that mourn their loss everyday, people who are left to ask the question-Why?
Even Cho, believe it or not, was a person. A very sick person. He left behind a familty, too. A family that is struggling to find answer to the questions they have about their son, brother.
Yes, the community itself was also victimized here. Blacksburg loves VT. They support the school and students. The sense of loss there is still huge and probably will be for a while.
I know the video was done for a school project on criminal justice. I don’t know about how sensitive even giving an assignment like this is, much less posting it on YouTube.
I am glad someone as thoughtful as you commented here, thank you. I really wasn’t sure if posting about this issue is in and of itself exploitative. I hope not, and with your sharp compassion something akin to hope begins to emerge from fear, doubt, and uncertainty.
The very idea that we are talking about this terrible event in some fashion seems reassuring and important. But as your comment points out trying to talk about this shooting in anyway other than through some kind of pre-existing ideological and political agenda seems quite difficult. Your ability to underscore the importance of the humanity of the victims as we even begin to try and understand this event is crucial.
I dont pretend to suggest the video has any answers and I think the it is remarkable not so much for its essential value, but because it approaches the importance of narrative in dealing with trauma in a medium and fashion that is both controversial and strikingly different from the dehumanization that the mass media all too often enagges in with horrific events like that one at Virginia Tech.
Thanks for the thoughtful comments, and giving me an opportunity to keep reflecting on why this is all so uncomfortable for all of us.