Further Thoughts on Jim Carroll…

It’s funny what occurs to you initially and how often we forget things. Hearing of Jim Carroll I immediately thought of the books, his work, and yet I forgot one of the most memorable and remembered aspect of the film version of “The Basketball Diaries.”

Everyone who’s seen the flick remembers the scene where Leo in a slo-mo scene bursts into his classroom proceeds to gun down the teacher and his classmates in a dream sequence.

Back in the mid-nineties (god that sounds like it was forever ago and not a little more than a decade and it makes me sound ancient…) school shootings were incredibly uncommon. The company behind “The Basketball Diaries” was actually sued in the aftermath of one shooting, I believe in Kentucky.

I remember, before Columbine and the other shootings, sitting in the corner of class with another student and we would joke about how this was the setting of that scene. For us, the violence in the scene wasn’t an inspiration to commit violence, it was cathartic. Perhaps it was so cathartic precisely because we weren’t the type who could ever do such a thing. We didn’t get into fights or play sports where we could work out a lot of anger. I was a writer and she was a visual artist. We did theater. We were determined to get through that class and get through high school and get out.

After Columbine and the other shootings I don’t think we could have joked like that. Columbine wasn’t someone acting this scene out. It was something far more twisted and disturbing. They weren’t exacting revenge they were just shooting off bullets trying to hit as many people as possible because they hated everyone and everything, no one more so than themselves. The media may have tried to romanticize them, but they were spree killers who didn’t care about anything.

For us, that scene was the equivalent of a comedian who says what we all think but no one has the guts to say and we laugh both because of it’s truth but also because we feel a certain catharsis in knowing that we’re not alone in having these thoughts and these opinions and in that moment, we feel a less alone.

That’s the power of art.

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