From the recent shootings at Virginia Tech University to the tragedies at Columbine and Oklahoma City, certain common traits can be traced through all of these events. In Guys and Guns Amok, media and cultural critic Douglas Kellner provides a fascinating diagnostic reading of these acts of domestic terrorism. Skillfully connecting each case with the current environment for male socialization and the search for identity in an American culture obsessed with guns and militarism, Kellner's work is a sobering reflection on these tragedies and the pervasive power of media and popular culture as well as a wake-up call for the future.
"The national conversation about school shootings and other violent rampages lurches from one tragedy to the next, with little discussion of the systemic and historical forces that help to produce them. By contrast, Douglas Kellner's deep and learned analysis shows that 'individual' acts of violence are rooted in a larger crisis of masculinity that manifests itself in everything from boys killing their classmates to the ongoing pandemic of men's violence against women—not to mention escalating militarism and its effects at all levels of U.S. society."
—Jackson Katz, Creator of the film Tough Guise and author of The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
“Kellner has given us an unsettling but much-needed and fascinating journey through the dark side of American society, where violent episodes like those at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech have become less shocking than they once were. This superb, provocative, well-written account situates what might be viewed as isolated killing sprees within a broader understanding of the media spectacle, trends at work in popular culture, the male gun fetish, and intensified U.S. war making. This is critical social theory at its best.”
—Carl Boggs, author of Imperial Delusions and coauthor of The Hollywood War Machine
“Douglas Kellner makes all of us who watched films of the Virginia Tech shootings with horror think more deeply about how complicit we might be–as creators and consumers of media coverage of school violence–in undermining democracy. Kellner entices us here to think about the anti-democratic ideas about masculinity and the gun culture we all in different ways have helped perpetuate. This is a thought-deepening book.”
—Cynthia Enloe, author of Globalization and Militarism: Feminists Make the Link
“Kellner explains the wave of school shootings and mass terrorism that has become too common in the U.S. Numerous scholars and social commentators have attempted to provide a reasonable explanation for the violence. However, no one has clearly articulated a comprehensive reason for this complex phenomenon. … Recommended.”
“Kellner combines a penetrating analysis of the relationships between (white) masculine identity construction, domestic terrorism, school violence, U.S. gun culture, and an intensively militarized public culture with realistic recommendations for moving beyond these relationships.”
Introduction: Media Spectacle and the "Virginia Tech Massacre" Chapter 1: Deconstructing the Spectacle: Race, Guns, and the Culture Wars Chapter 2: The Situation of Contemporary Youth Chapter 3: Constructing Male Identities and the Spectacle of Terror Chapter 4: What Is to Be Done?