Stephen King on Violence and Violent Writing

I had a conversation today about the recent violence and how the perpetrator of these acts was said to have written disturbing fiction, with some in my group saying that these writings should have been a red flag to authorities. I took the opposite side of this, arguing basically that although now it does seem obvious that this person was deranged and it showed in his writing, it was hard to point to a person’s writing alone as a reason to, for instance, expel that person from school. My argument was that Stephen King writes some disturbing stuff, but no one would lock him up. Well, today on Mr. King addresses this very issue in a piece called Predicting Violence. Here is a direct quote from the article:

For most creative people, the imagination serves as an excretory channel for violence: We visualize what we will never actually do (James Patterson, for instance, a nice man who has all too often worked the street that my old friend George used to work). Cho doesn’t strike me as in the least creative, however. Dude was crazy. Dude was, in the memorable phrasing of Nikki Giovanni, ”just mean.” Essentially there’s no story here, except for a paranoid a–hole who went DEFCON-1. He may have been inspired by Columbine, but only because he was too dim to think up such a scenario on his own.

On the whole, I don’t think you can pick these guys out based on their work, unless you look for violence unenlivened by any real talent.

Again, what happened is horrible, but I don’t know if it could ever be predicted or unfortunately stopped. Of course, me heart goes out to the families of all those who have been lost in this senseless act of violence.

5 thoughts on “Stephen King on Violence and Violent Writing

  1. You should see some of the stories I wrote about my chemistry teacher in High School. They would definitely get somebody kicked out of school today and might have even back then if anybody had seen them.

    I have never punched anybody, shot anything, and only kicked people in self-defense.

    The connection just isn’t there. Do some wackos right violent fiction? Yes. So all violent fiction writers/computer game players/music listeners/movie watchers kill people. Obviously not.

  2. And haven’t we all written some pretty distrubing stuff every once in a while? For most of us writing is a release. The screws weren’t all there in that boy’s head. I don’t know if we will find any real clues to what triggered him and in doing so we keep his mean spirit alive.

    Does any of that make any f’ing sense?

    I thought not.

    It’s time for bed.

  3. I am so upset that the media released the gunman’s video. Now I can’t get that insane face out of my head, and I can barely imagine what the victims’ families must be feeling. I somehow suspect this person’s writing was not the only indication that he was a raving lunatic. But hindsight is 20/20…

    Once, my friend and I were walking through an art gallery and there was a really weird picture on the wall. The plaque beneath read: “Untitled”. My friend and I looked at the painting for a moment, then my friend turned to me and said: “I call it ‘Drugs’.”

    I wonder if that’s what people would think if they read my writing?! Some of my writing is so “far out” – especially The Sky Pharaohs – that people are going to suspect I’m a wild spaced out nutcase. Only I’m a boring old teetotaler and wouldn’t touch drugs with a bargepole.

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. I thought all of you fellow writers would be interested in this.

    Helen – I decided to not watch any of the video and haven’t seen much of the news coverage. I just think the news organizations glorify these incidents too much. That, and I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep.

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