Everybody Needs an Enemy

February 9, 2013

In response to the manhunt for Christopher Dorner, former cop turned alleged cop killer, there’s been a bit of schadenfreude from citizens who have long suspected that the LAPD, and cops in general, are more dysfunctional and/or corrupt than previously known.  But beyond that intrigue, there are also some among us in Los Angeles who are actively supporting Dorner.  Not in a harboring-a-fugitive sort of way, but in that all-too-millennial, starting-a-Facebook fan page sort of way.

But given the fandom of the Aurora shooter (calling themselves ‘Holmies’) and the disturbing spurt of Newtown conspiracy theories that re-victimize the victims, I think it raises questions about a greater issue — whether our culture has been warped by a pathological need to find divisive ideology where there are just a simple series of events.  Certainly there are political issues to be found in any news event (gun control, police brutality, racism, etc.), but I wonder if the average, online American is no longer satisfied to simply observe the world, but also must take a side.  And more insidiously, if there isn’t a segment of that majority that strives to take the opposing, heretical point of view.  Is it no longer interesting enough to get a voyeuristic thrill from absorbing 24/7, reality-based media?  Must we also call for blood from our digital gladiators, or from our neighbors who are rooting for the home team?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but we live in a world where pre-teen girls routinely make online death threats to whichever celebrity-type is dating their favorite pop star.  While I don’t think Kristi in Irvine is actually going to kill Justin Bieber’s favorite lingerie model, I can’t help but wonder what her culture is going to do next.