(You don’t want to know, but of course I will tell you)
All my respect goes out to any victim of any shooting. I in no way want my humorous take on this issue to be misinterpreted as not caring.
The internet is a scary place, in case you didn’t know.
I just found out that the “deep web” is a legitimate thing. This is where there are unreleased crime scene photos, videos of animal abuse, secret forums where people can post nonconsensual explicit acts. Seriously whatever disgusting thing you can think of, some form of it is on the internet.
But recently the most shocking tidbit I came across, is actually a group composed mostly of preteen and teenage girls on Tumblr and other blogging sites who call themselves “Holmies” “Laneatics” and “Columbiners.”
In order to fully dig into this I need to back up a bit.
I recently finished my third novel Ekland: The Journal of Grayson Tyler Mitchell. Long story short, it is a novel about a school shooter/bomber based off Columbine who journals all his thoughts a year before his attack. Naturally, as with any book I write, research had to go into this.
For the past month and a half I have read all of Dylan Klebold’s (one of the perpetrators of Columbine) journals thoroughly. I have watched all of him and Eric Harris’ (the other perpetrator) homemade videos. I have poured over various school shooters psyches, autopsy reports, and sought out any small information I could find about these people.
This might sound insane and make people wonder for my well-being, but that is another blog in itself. What you should be more concerned about is a group of people I found who do not want to know more about mass murderers in an attempt to understand them or for their own creepy but understandable fascination. No, their whole internet existence revolves around professing their love and appreciation for these killers.
Holmies: A snarky little play on words of the name James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado Dark Night Rises shooter who killed twelve people by opening fire at a movie theater.
Laneatics: Another play on words that shows the obsession with TJ Lane, a sixteen year old who murdered three students at his high school. And is by every definition of the online female fandom…cute.
And then we have the Columbiners, no need to tell you the play on words there.
But the terms are more than just a funny insensitive re-branding of the gunmen. They represent an entire sub culture across the internet we all didn’t know existed.
Because the appreciation goes further than these killers apparent mediocre to good looks. They represent a group of very crazy disturbed teenagers who love them, idolize them, and most concerning of all – wish they could be in their presence.
If you need proof of this look no further than the “Shit Holmies Say” video on Vimeo which was placed there because YouTube took off the group’s original video on their site. The format of these usual videos, including this one, try to embody a group of people’s affiliations that’s not that different from the way maybe there might be a video called “Shit College Students Say” and “Shit Austinites say” (which I assume would be something like “traffic on 35 really blows.”)
The Holmies video has a group of teenagers wearing Joker costumes and saying comments like “I need to find a plaid shirt” (the type of shirt that Holmes wore during the shooting) and then of course, because it would not be a video without it, commenting on his attractiveness.
In fact that seems to be one of the most prevalent bonds that these girls have with each other. They each find one of them attractive. They talk about whether they want Klebold’s lanky body or Eric Harris’ stockier more all American look. They talk about how TJ Lane would be in bed. They discuss whether not Holmes is cuter with or without his bright orange hair.
And then they go out of their way to explain that they do not “condone” the actions of any of these people because what they did is inexcusable.
But does it really matter if they do not condone what they did? Their actions say otherwise, hosting tribute sites to the likes of Lane and Klebold, having an entire Tumblr devoted to what Harris would say from beyond the grave if you asked him a question.
On one website in particular, someone asks “dead Eric Harris” if he is satisfied about what happened at his high school. Anonymous dead Harris answers he wish he could have killed more. Aside from being creepy it probably is a good representation of what Harris, the psychopath, might have said. But why is someone doing this? Why are there tributes? Why are these girls (I’m sorry females for using this word) so damn crazy?
It might have something to do with the medium these fans are on. The internet is a scary place but the internet is also an accepting place. There have been Ted Bundy worshipers for years, people who write extensive letters to those sitting on death row, but usually these people were anonymous. They hid their fascination with these killers and their desire to get close to them because they knew that if anyone else caught wind of this that some very weird but needed intervention might take place.
With the packs of teenage girls online today, it is easier to find someone who shares your same fascination with the killers, it is easy to gain acceptance into the virtual world, and it becomes, as does with anything, a sort of family of very terrible ideas. Their confidence comes from numbers and the idea that “other people do not understand them,” an ironic statement given the fact that I am sure the Columbine killers thought the same thing.
With a website to proclaim their love, and their “love” carrying various messages, these girls are running on fuel from others who are just as troubled. In fact they are not all that different from those who call themselves “Anas and Mias” a short term for those who seek out Tumblr posts about being pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia, who wear red bracelets to identify their secret openly which also are used to pinch their wrists if they feel like eating.
Laneatics, Holmies, and most importantly Columbiners understand this. They have their own secret symbols too. They each hope to one day venture to BlackJack Pizza in Littleton (the restaurant Klebold and Harris worked at), they search desperately for cini minis necklaces (what Harris reportedly loved to eat from Burger King) and they have tattoos….yes, tattoos. You read that right. There are a number of young woman across the internet who have decided to post their pictures of massacre related tattoos. Klebold, based on the fact that his diary is filled with more rambling keynotes of love for girls who didn’t reciprocate and symbolic depressive thoughts, seems to be the most tattooed one. Everything from his name, to his drawings, to his quotes are preserved forever on someone who is barely old enough to legally do this. Which means that if you ever tattooed an exes name on your arm just be grateful you didn’t tattoo a killers.
But besides the symbols and secret comradery, the fandom exists because these woman believe in the deepest part of them that they could have saved them. It’s a tragically romantic idea if there ever was one, the idea that if they had just talked to them more or listened, if they had just seen that they were hurting, maybe they could have offered an ear and some people would have been saved. I based an entire book, at least some of it, on this very concept so I do understand this. But then you remember that these girls did not know them at all and that their desperate desire to change comes not from their hope of saving others but instead fulfilling their romantic wishes. They talk about how Klebold and Harris would have been the perfect boyfriends. And how they are certain that if they had some time with them that they would have fallen madly in love and helped stop the massacre.
As with Holmes, the idea that if perhaps they had been willing to go on a date with him maybe he would have rethought everything he was planning to do soon and they both could have trailed into the sunset wearing their matching Batman costumes.
So the idea of saving them becomes apparent in their desperate desire to not alter history but instead alter themselves. By helping these killers they are important, they are meant for something, and more importantly- they are loved.
They are teenage girls; they are craving acceptance. Perhaps the only silver lining, mixed with a level of sexism I have to accept, is that they do not want to be them but be with them. At what cost though? If say James Holmes was let go of prison tomorrow for his crimes would they find a way to track him down, ask him out on a date, and see where things go?
Now let me state though that while I said most girls do not want to do anything like this, there are some who actually do, and they have gone as far as planning their own shooting. If you need more proof please look up the 2015 Valentine’s Day Halifax shooting where a duo involving an active female member on the Columbine High School Massacre Forum decided to shoot up her local mall before being stopped by the police as a result of an anonymous online tip. When other members who had known her found at this they understandably condemned her while at the same time holding true to their one word they use to describe anyone in this state of mind. “Misunderstood.” Except that misunderstood to them does not mean mentally sick or in need of a real group of supportive friends at the very least. Misunderstood is another word for entitled. It is another word for justification. It is another word for…you can do it and maybe in some situations you should have.
These people have created a delusional world where the killers did not mean what they were doing and were simply just misunderstood. While I do agree with the statement to a degree, the justification of their loves seems unsettling. They protect them and defend them and most importantly of all want to forget the fact that some of them are dead by their own choice. If you really want to piss of a Columbiner (and be a gigantic tool because in no way is anyone’s death casual conversation) show them a picture of Klebold and Harris after they committed suicide in their high school library. They will start a heated debate that that picture of them is not appropriate, right after they post a photo of Daniel Rohrbough’s (the second victim of this particular massacre) bloody body on the school sidewalk with an obligatory “RIP.”
What this shows is an extreme disconnect from who they have perceived their idols to be in their head and who they actually are. In a world where depression is not a tangible problem to admit to, but one that these internet users do, their idol is one who projects their depression into power and into purpose. Therefor a photo of them dead is a real fight against this purpose. This is why Harris and Klebold are not idolized in the photos of their death but just in what they did. This is why that TJ Lane, a survivor of his own attack is made into memes and thought to be funny. Because even though he told the family members of the people he killed “The hand that pulled the trigger that killed your son now masturbates to the memory. Fuck you all.” he is still alive, and still an influential figure. And yes, he is disgusting.
Maybe the only way to write the girls off is to do your own diagnosis. Hybristophilia is when someone has intense sexual attraction, love, or orgasms with someone who has committed crimes such as rape or murder. If this seems too much of a jump it might be because it is.
Perhaps these crushes are no different than the crushes many people have on movie stars or that lead singer of One Direction I am going to pretend I do not know. Maybe attraction mixed with a healthy dose of “teenager” makes these people, and they will all slowly but surely grow out of it. But does the fact that these people exist tell us something not only about these girls who represent a younger generation, but the world as a whole? That desensitization happens more frequently? That might too be another blog.
Still, as much as they hope to be mature their immaturity bubbles forth with comments like “Holmie 4 lyfe” as they sip on a “Slurpees” because that is the apparent drink of Holmes’ choice. But is it that degree of inability to learn and realize the outcomes of their obsession what might destroy them? I am in no way suggesting that they will go out and befriend potential shooters, even if they could spot them out. Instead the idea will further perpetuate itself that if they just do enough and say enough and love enough (and joke enough) than they can by example change people who think this way. But they are not psychologists or mental health professionals, the type of people that these killers actually needed. They are fifteen year old girls behind a computer saying that these murderers needed someone to cuddle with. And these are not people, as I dare to put myself on a higher pedestal, who want to understand why and how these killers got here.
It is this teenage level of hazy thoughts, in the end, that make you wonder whether you should say anything to them at all. It does not matter, the response I am sure I can make up myself will have you pulling your hair thanking yourself that you are no longer that age or no longer as impressionable. That you do not believe for one second you would have been any different from any other victim who did not know them if you were right there when the act was taking place.
“But I would have given him what he needed,” she says as she scoffs and goes back to creating a killer inspired meme destined to be re-blogged hundreds of times. “I would have seen them when no one else did. Klebold would have loved me.”
No, Klebold would have shot you.