Today I did a lot of at home work. Ordering. Follow up phone calls. Organization. You know the drill. While I worked on my laptop from my own comfy couch I watched Gus Van Sants Elephant. The movie is, according to Netflix, an “unnerving tale about high school violence that unfolds on an ordinary school day…”. Admittedly, I wanted to see it because it IS a Gus Van Sant movie and he is a friggin genius. I didn’t think I’d like it because of the subject matter, which is strange because I am VERY interested in (mostly true) crime movies, shows, and novels. I didn’t think I would like it because I get very aggravated when the subject of school violence comes up. People act so dumbfounded by it and I think its dumb to be dumbfounded. If a person is a violent person, and a teenager, most of their time is spent at school. School is like another home. You know every little nook and crannie of that freakin place! Nearly everyone you know is either related to you or goes to your school. Anyone you feel any animosity towards is probably going to be there. I guess I always look at it as a ‘crap happens’ situation. Don’t get me wrong, its a horrible thing, but I just never understand why people can’t believe it happens and when it does they look for any little ridiculous thing like what kind of music the child listens to or what type of movies they watch. Please. Yes, of course a violent minded person is going to watch violent movies, play violent video games, and listen to hostile music.
Anyway. I was surprised that I DID like the movie, and that it actually did unnerve me – i am pretty desensitized when it comes to violence and the like. I loved the camera work and the way he followed several different students from different crowds on an average day – and you could see how their paths cross.
When the violence started everything seemed pretty calm. This surprised me. In my head I expected a rehearsed or at least talked about course of action to have taken place when the shooting started. The school seemed small – one building. (I don’t know about you but my public high school had about ten.) The students could hear the initial shots – and the kids screaming, but they didnt run, didnt close and barracade doors, they just jumped, and went about their business.
I thought about this and it dawned on me that for instance, when the Columbine School Shooting happened, no one really thought about it ever happening. I’m sure it has happened before that, but the only big school shootings that I can even think of off of the top of my head is Columbine and Virginia Tech. So before Columbine, the fact that someone may be shooting up your high school would probably be the last thing on your mind. You might think someone fell, dropped something very heavy, a drama class is filming some sort of project. Anything but a shooting.
Now it very well may be the first thing to pop into a students head. I think parents should talk to their kids about the possibility of a school shooting and tell them just a few simple things they need to know to do. Don’t go out in the halls. Close your classroom door – barricade it – call the police if anyone has a cell phone – escape through a window if possible – duck under your desk if not. It is likely the shooters will cause a commotion in a big gathering place that will make students run into the halls where they can just shoot through the crowd and hit a larger number of people. I think it would be a good idea for a scheduled drill just like for fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Anyways, sorry if I’m blabbering on, but the movie is good and worth a watch.