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.
Until you realize that the murderer in question didn’t hunt down and kill a murderer who had escaped the clutches of the law. He just killed another kid. His younger brother, actually (and no, the brother in question had not killed and exsanguinated any prostitutes).
Look, kid, the rules that Dexter follows on the show aren’t very hard to grasp. He lays them out, oh, about three times every single frickin’ episode. He only kills bad people. There’s also the fact that every time the murder or even harm of a child is mentioned, you see him totally flip out and transform into a vengeful murder-tsunami. What part of that was so hard to grasp, douchebag? If I was a judge I’d totally lay down some ironic punishment on this guy like being executed on a murder-table while wrapped in cling film, but then that’s probably why they took away my license to practice law.
Still, at least Dexter is a widely-respected show. Then there’s the people who based their crimes on watching anime. A man in Japan, Hiroyuki Tsuchida, killed his mother after watching the rather depressing anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Apparently, the anime had convinced him that ‘humans should be eliminated’. Convinced that he should start with his mother to get the hardest part out of the way, Tsuchida was stopped before he could go on a full-fledged killing spree, presumably because he was a puny anime nerd. Look dude, everyone sometimes gets the idea that humanity deserves to die after they watch anime, but did you really have to take it out on a helpless victim? Let alone your mother, who had to put up with a grown adult relative watching anime in the first place?
Okay, maybe we’re being a bit harsh. As anime goes, Neon Genesis Evangelion is actually one of the better ones. But then there’s the group of men in Belgium who were recently arrested over a body found with the words ‘Watashi wa KIRA dess’ scribbled on lined paper nearby. For non-anime fans, that’s Japanese for ‘I am a killer’, and a reference to Death Note, a Japanese comic and anime about an emo high school kid with a magic book. And as if that’s not bad enough, the Japanese is spelt wrong, which means that even the other anime fans won’t respect them in prison.
5. Kill Bill
In England in 2006, a guy called Sean Wilson teamed up with a young accomplice to kill his neighbor, and subsequently blamed it on watching Kill Bill beforehand.
The advantage to this excuse: the movie actually involves brutal violence! The disadvantages: the real-life victim was not killed with anything resembling a samurai sword, and there was no blood feud involved. Also, I wasn’t there, but I’m 95% sure no one delivered any well-written speeches about pop culture. No, these were just two ordinary losers that killed someone smaller and weaker than them.
But way more importantly: guys, the movie was about sexy female assassins. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with a man having female role models, but really? When you’re committing murder? You really want to go to jail and explain to your large new cellmate that you’re in there because you got caught up in an elaborate fantasy about being Uma Thurman?
6. Queen of the Damned
In 2003, a Scottish man by the name of Allan Menzies blamed his recently-committed murder on the 2002 Anne Rice vampire film Queen of the Damned. According to him, the Vampire Queen referenced in the title, Akasha, had told him to do it. “I had basically agreed with her that if I murdered people I would be rewarded in the next life,” he said. “I would be made immortal in the next life – a vampire, basically.” He also said he had watched the movie over 100 times.
Well, at least he didn’t tell the cops that he was inspired by Akasha herself, like those Kill Bill guys. But come on, Queen of the Damned? Why not just go all out and pick a SyFy channel movie to inspire your homicide? There are a bunch of actual hardcore vampires you could have used as your crazy-idols. And yet you pick the movie that looked like it was made on a budget of $50,000, twenty of which was spent on wardrobe design in Hot Topic? Yeah, that’s pretty much the lowest you can go when it comes to vampire-related crimes. Oh, wait…
In 2009, a 13-year-old boy in Des Moines, Iowa was charged with assault after going on a ‘biting’ spree that was apparently triggered by the Twilight movies. By the time a girl complained to the principal, the kid had already bitten 11 people. After the girl reported him, the other ten students came forward. They’d probably been hiding until that time because they were afraid that Twilight was a true story, and were planning on quietly killing themselves as soon as they began to sparkle.
Unlike some of the others on the list, this guy didn’t actually kill anyone. But the fact that he even tried to injure someone using Twilight as an inspiration is enough to sentence him to eternal shame. Hell, even the Queen of the Damned guy would beat this dude up for being a pussy. If the ‘monsters’ that inspire you to do evil are skinny pubescent models that sparkle in the sunshine, you are probably beyond hope. Seriously, I would give you more respect if you watched The Last Unicorn and then strapped a traffic cone to your head and went on a goring rampage.