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From my new column:

Ever since South Korean immigrant Cho Seung-hui gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech, there has been much comment that the university should have realized just from his two hate-filled and inept plays that the senior English major was a dangerous creep who needed to be taken away.

For a playwrighting class, Cho penned Mr. Brownstone and Richard McBeef (which, despite the Macbethian title, is a Hamlet-knock off about a young hero’s lethal conflict with the new stepfather who murdered his real father). Richard McBeef includes such sterling dialogue as:

“I hate him. Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die. Kill Dick.”

Many have asked: “How could the English Department not recognize the horrific implications of these works?”

That might seem like a puzzling question, however, to someone familiar with the poetic oeuvre of one of Cho’s own teachers, Virginia Tech’s “Univerity Distinguished Professor” of English and Black Studies, Nikki Giovanni.

Among the most celebrated figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and recipient of 21 honorary degrees, Giovanni has published poems strikingly similar to Cho’s plays in both vileness and incompetence. For example:

The True Import of Present Dialog, Black vs. Negro
by Nikki Giovanni

Can you kill
Can you kill
Can a ni**er kill
Can a ni**er kill a honkie
Can a ni**er kill the Man
Can you kill ni**er
Huh? Ni**er can you
Do you know how to draw blood
Can you poison
Can you stab-a-Jew
Can you kill huh? Ni**er
Can you kill
Can you run a protestant down with your
‘68 El Dorado
(that’s all they’re good for anyway)
Can you kill
Can you piss on a blond head
Can you cut it off
Can you kill
A ni**er can die
We ain’t got to prove we can die
We got to prove we can kill

Ironically, the author of these lines was asked to deliver the closing remarks at Virginia Tech’s convocation memorializing the 32 slaughtered by Cho. For some reason, Giovanni didn’t read aloud The True Import.


(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
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“Wow – You called it” writes one reader. “Damn, but you’re perceptive,” says a another. “Sometimes, you scare me” emails a third.

Okay, what am I blowing my horn over? My shot-in-the-dark guess on Tuesday that the Virginia Tech killer might have been influenced by violent movies from his native South Korea, such as “Old Boy:”

“Nonetheless, let me toss out a bit of wholly unwarranted speculation about the influence of recent South Korean pop culture. South Korean movies and music … are super cool now in Japan. The trendier Korean movies are, I hear, awfully violent. I made it through about ten minutes before fleeing of the popular South Korean film “Oldboy,” which makes Quentin Tarantino’s movies look like Erich Rohmer’s. It’s part of a series with “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” which I managed to avoid completely. … I have no idea if the shooter was a fan of pop culture developments in the country he left when he was about ten, but it’s a possibility.”

This evening, the New York Times’ blog The Lede writes:

Updates on Virginia Tech
By Mike Nizza
An Image’s Ties to a Dark Movie
8:07 PM ET

Inspiration for Cho’s Images?

A self-shot photo of Mr. Cho, above, and a still from the Web site of the movie ‘Oldboy.’

The inspiration for perhaps the most inexplicable image in the set that Cho Seung-Hui mailed to NBC news on Monday may be a movie from South Korea that won the Gran Prix prize at Cannes Film Festival in 2004. The poses in the two images are similar, and the plot of the movie, “Oldboy,” seems dark enough to merit at least some further study.

Following is The Times’s plot summary: The film centers on a seemingly ordinary businessman, Dae-su (the terrific Choi Min-sik), who, after being mysteriously imprisoned, goes on an extensive, exhausting rampage, seeking answers and all manner of bloody revenge.

In a Times review, Manohla Dargis wrote that the film’s “body count and sadistic violence” mostly appealed to “cult-film aficionados for whom distinctions between high art and low are unknown, unrecognized and certainly unwelcome.”

A Virginia Tech professor, Paul Harrill, alerted us of the similarity between images in the hope that it would shed some light on what led Mr. Cho to kill 32 on Monday before turning the gun on himself.

Keep in mind that this connection is hardly definite (and the pictures aren’t exactly the same — a one-handed grip on a hammer versus a two-handed grip), but the emergence of Cho’s picture today is indeed suggestive that I might have been more on to something than on something.

(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)
• Tags: Movies, Virginia Tech 
Steve Sailer
About Steve Sailer

Steve Sailer is a journalist, movie critic for Taki's Magazine, columnist, and founder of the Human Biodiversity discussion group for top scientists and public intellectuals.

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