The Role of Music in Literary School Shootings: Nineteen Minutes

The Role of Music in Literary School Shootings: Nineteen Minutes


Riding on the momentum from my last post about the influence of music in school shootings, I will look at this through some of the books I've posted about in the past. All of them are about school shootings. This post takes on Jodi Picoult's best seller, "Nineteen Minutes." For those who haven't read it, it's about a boy named Peter Houghton, who is so badly bullied, he goes into the school one day and shoots ten people dead and wounds eight more. The book goes back and forth between the events that led up to the shooting and those that come after and it's very well done in my view.

After the shooting in the story, the police search Peter's room and remove all sorts of evidence. Among all the books and online instructions on how to make bombs, they also take his DVD's, one of which is "Bowling for Columbine," and his CD collection. One of the albums taken is from a band called Death Wish and on the album is a song called "Judgement Day," which many people say the lyrics of the song vividly describe the setting behind Peter's shooting up of his school. Needless to say, many people begin to blame heavy metal music.

Not too much further along in the story, the lead singer of Death Wish and I love this name, Raven Napalm, gives a press conference. In it, he states that no one says anything when America sends kids overseas to fight and die for oil but when one kid fails to see the beauty of life and shoots up his school, then everyone points fingers at heavy metal music. Maybe he's got a point here. Unfortunately, except for the fact that Peter listens to heavy metal in general, not much more is said on the subject.

What I found amusing is Jodi's description of Mr. Napalm. It is practically Marilyn Manson to a tee. The black hair, eye shadow and lip piercings described in Raven Napalm's appearance immediately brought Marilyn's image to mind. Furthermore, Marilyn did say something along the same lines as his fictional counter part after Columbine. I am not suggesting she plagiarized anything, she didn't. However, I do think she was very influenced by Columbine and Marilyn Manson, not that there is anything wrong with that.

Marilyn Manson- could this be Jodi Picoult's Raven Napalm?

Marilyn Manson- could this be Jodi Picoult's Raven Napalm?

In short, I'm glad that in "Nineteen Minutes" Jodi seems to reject the notion that music had anything to do with the shooting in the story. All throughout the book, Peter is described as a loner and a victim and that heavy metal was his way of dealing with all the crap he was getting on a daily basis. Point, not everyone who listens to metal is a bullied loner. I just wanted to get that out because for me, "Nineteen Minutes" deals with the real issues that led to the shooting, the main one of these was the bullying.

Next post: Endgame by Nancy Garden

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Published by Michael Lefevre

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