Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

June 6, 2014

Youth in a void

The movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” has been brought up countless times when discussing the life and death and murders of Elliot Rodger, who killed seven people including himself last week in Santa Barbara, California.

The movie reference was a “guaranteed laugh line” in our “toxic culture,” one of my interlocutors put it, understood to be conveying the killer as a “dweeby, out-of-touch loser,” as another emphasized.

Is it any wonder that the worst thing in the world for Rodgers was that he was not having sex?

“Sex has become a sort of replacement god, an idol of our Internet age,” says Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, the associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine, observes.

In the writings he left behind, Rodger pointed to his parents’ divorce and his first viewing of porn as perversely formative. “I was shocked beyond words,” he says viewing pornographic images at 11. “(T)he sight filled me with strong and overwhelming emotions ... I was traumatized. My childhood was fading away. Ominous fear swept over me.”

In a culture that doesn’t value men as protectors and fathers, all there really was for Rogers to hope for was sex. “This makes perfect sense, because deep in even the most deluded and anesthetized heart, we cannot fail to know that sex is meant to connect us to an Other,” Ed Mechmann, director of public policy and the Safe Environment Office at the Archdiocese of New York says. When Rodger couldn’t get what he wanted, there was an “existential anger” about him, “not just against his situation but even against who and what he is,” Mechmann comments. “And so he tried to destroy all that reminded him of the hurt he couldn’t get rid of or make sense of.”

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