From what the media tells us, pop culture is responsible for 90% of the murders committed in the Western world (the other 10% are caused by graphics on political websites). And why not? The realm of pop culture is filled with gory horror films, rock music played backwards in a Satanic fashion, and evil first-person shooters, all just waiting to drive innocent civilians into a murderous frenzy. It seems like if you want to commit a culture-inspired crime, the choice is easy.
But what about criminals who choose to be inspired by pop culture in a way that is really lame? Look, committing crime is not cool in the first place. Sure, sometimes stuff like killing people is justified, like if a guy is about to crash a school bus full of hemophiliac orphans into the President. But most of the time in real life, it just makes you a big loser. And you’re even more of a loser if you choose to base your shockingly heinous acts on:
1. The Matrix
More than one killer has been inspired by a movie about unusually slender computer hackers with superpowers. The ‘Matrix defense’ was most famously used in Virginia in 2003, by a young man named Josh Cooke who shot his parents while wearing a Keanu-esque trench-coat. Cooke told his lawyers he believed he was living in the Matrix. In two separate incidents, a man and a woman killed their landlords and quoted the movie afterwards, even though it was specifically pointed out in the movie that Neo liked his landlady.
In a way, The Matrix is not exactly anti-murder. Obviously, the main characters don’t value life very much, judging by the way they shot up those security guards in the lobby (couldn’t their magic computers have conjured them up some nice futuristic non-lethal weapons?) But come on, there are movies out there where the main characters explicitly endorse murdering people! Why go to jail only to realize that the movie you based your homicidal philosophy on has been followed up with a film that features a giant raver orgy and two dreadlocked guys chasing cars for 3.5 hours?
2. Guitar Hero
In 2009, Dean Malicek robbed a Santa Ana bank while wearing a Guitar Hero t-shirt. As if that wasn’t enough, Mr. Malicek chose to spend his ample loot on a new truck, which he then decorated with a Guitar Hero bumper sticker as if to prove the point. Police soon tracked the guy down to his ingenious hideout: an apartment complex next to the bank he had robbed. In another case, a man on the run from a murder in North Carolina was captured when police were tipped off that he was hanging out in Wal-mart playing Guitar Hero III. Apparently, he didn’t quit playing even as the marshals approached with guns drawn.
Obviously, nobody gave either of these guys the video game memo: it’s Grand Theft Auto that is responsible for all crime in society, not the one where you peacefully stand in front of a screen pretending to play guitar. I guess they got the first initial right, at least.
It had to happen at some point: a 17-year-old, Anthony Conley, recently committed murder and then blamed it on the TV show Dexter, about a serial killer who kills other killers. And at first glance, this one actually makes perfect sense. If you have watched every single season of Dexter and haven’t given at least a few seconds’ thought to laying down some righteous murder on a bad guy, you’re probably a liar. The whole point of the show is to give viewers an outlet so that they don’t need to go out and commit vigilante justice in real life, right? It’s probably secretly funded by the FBI or something.