As a precursor to my upcoming video game controversy article, I decided to steer clear of pop culture and have a look at one of the most pressing issues facing our society today. I call it ''the Columbine Effect''.

When you hear the word "Columbine", what's the first thing that comes to mind? Those who were watching television the day of April 20th, 1999 know what I'm talking about. The Columbine High School massacre happened when two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students, one teacher, and themselves using automatic weapons purchased at a gun show and ammunition acquired from a local K-Mart. It was after that fateful day that everything changed...

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These young men are Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the individuals responsible for the carnage that took place the day of 4/20/99. After the shootings, people began to wonder how two model students like these could pull off something so ghastly. Multiple scenarios were considered, and everything from violent video games to the work of shock-rocker Marylin Manson were blamed.

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Eric Harris was born in Wichita, Kansas on April 9th, 1981 to Wayne and Katherine Harris. His father was an Air Force pilot. In 1993, after Wayne Harris retired, the family moved from Plattsburgh, New York to Littleton, Colorado. It was there that Harris met and befriended Dylan Klebold.

Dylan Klebold was born in Lakewood, Colorado on September 11, 1981 to Thomas and Susan Klebold. Thomas Klebold ran a small real estate business from home, leaving very little time for him and his son. During first and second grade, Klebold attended Normandy Elementary School. From then on he attended Governor's Ranch Elementary School were he was part of the academic team.

The two children were big players of the computer game Doom, and linked their home computers so they could spend hours playing the game with one another. The school district apparently had a severe problem with bullies. This is relevant considering that Harris and Klebold themselves wrote about how they were bullied frequently while attending Columbine High. It has been said that the jocks and upper-class snobs who went to school with the two administered most of the beatings given to Harris and Klebold, and that during the massacre the two were targeting members of the local high school football team. Nonetheless, Eric and Dylan continue to be antagonized, and the jocks who perished continue to be praised as heroes of the revolution.

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Eric and Dylan's admiration for the game Doom has led to much controversy today concerning violent video games. But were video games to blame for the events that took place that April morning of 1999? Investigations show that Harris and Klebold were fans of 1994 crime-drama Natural Born Killers. Could this have anything to do with their actions?
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In their diaries, the two gunmen use the film's initials, NBK, as a codename for the massacre. What about the films that came out before Columbine that depicted similar high school slaughters? In 1976, a film titled ''Massacre at Central High'' was released to drive-ins across the globe. Despite it's sleazy title, the film is an intelligent high school drama about a newcomer named David who finds that three tyrannical jocks rule the school. After a gang rape by the three ends with David beating the the three up, they come after David and hospitalize him by shattering his leg. Fueled with rage, David stages a series of grisly accidents that systematically kills all three jocks. At first the students at Central High are happy to be rid of the jocks, but time flies and the oppressed soon become the oppressors, and nobody's safe from David's reign of terror! Although the events in this film are significantly different from the events at Columbine, many similarities are present. The biggest one is the killer's modus operandi of targeting jocks and bullies. Despite receiving positive reviews from several high profile critics including Roger Ebert, nothing became of the film after it's initial release, and it is highly unlikely that Harris or Klebold ever watched the movie. It was again in 1986 that another film depicted Columbine-like behavior. Troma's Class of Nuke 'Em High included a scene in which a group of high school troublemakers enter the principal's office with an assault rifle and kill a woman standing at the door. Months later, the film Neon Maniacs depicted the soldier maniac opening fire on a crowd of students at a high school dance with an M16. In 1995, a film called ''the Basketball Diaries'' shows the main protagonist, Jim Carroll, in a fantasy sequence shooting his classmates with a shotgun.
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Perhaps the person who caught the most flack however was teen idol Marylin Manson, who came under fire after the massacre for his shocking appearance and explicit lyrics. Parent protest groups accused him of promoting Columbine-like behavior, and that Harris and Klebold were possessed by Manson to commit their crimes. This is nothing more than mere tabloid conjecture, as the two gunmen weren't known to admire the work of Marylin Manson. Manson himself has said that the reason the massacre took place was because no one cared about the boys' well being. I strongly agree with you Mr. Manson. Aside from the fact that the school was a prison to Harris & Klebold and a country club to the jocks who bullied them, no one seemed to care about the gunmen's mental health. Their fuses just grew shorter and shorter as time went by, and eventually they snapped.

Although I was only three years old at the time, this media blame game disgusts me. The fact that Eric was a psychopath and Dylan was a depressive is probably to blame for the events that took place that day ten years ago. What's to say the turbulence of the 90's didn't help spur their rampage? Eric Harris would write in his diaries about the siege in Waco, Texas 1993 and the bombing in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1995. Isn't this enough evidence to support Harris and Klebold's mental illness?

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Do these men look familiar? That's cult leader David Koresh on the left and domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh on the right. These two men perpetrated the Waco massacre and Oklahoma City bombing respectively. These two men also served as inspirations for Harris & Klebold and their killing spree. Koresh was the leader of the Branch Davidians, a cult located near Waco, Texas. The ATF wanted to search David's compound for automatic weapons, and so began a 51 day siege that ended with the immolation of the compound and the death of everyone inside. McVeigh was a decorated war hero and patriot who carried out a bombing on April 19th, 1995 at the tender age of 27. The reason behind his actions was because the Alfred P. Murrah Building(the workplace Timothy blew up)was apparently housing ATF agents and he wanted to avenge the victims of the Ruby Ridge and Waco disasters who were murdered by the ATF for bearing arms(a second amendment right). These two along with the Columbine gunmen were without a doubt the boogeymen of the 1990's.

The Columbine disaster has had without a doubt a big impact on modern day society. Such a big impact that since then, schools across the globe have established strict, zero-tolerance policies. Children cannot bring play guns to school, wear clothing that depicts any kind of gunplay, or display Columbine-like behavior. One first grade kid got into a mess of trouble for holding a chicken strip as if it were a gun and pointing it at a teacher.

Despite the seriousness of what took place at Columbine, the media has done a good job of sensationalizing the massacre. Their coverage of the tragedy is more disrespectful than saying that "the kids at Columbine should have died". Besides, Columbine isn't the first school massacre of it's kind...
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Bath Township, Michigan. 1927. Andrew Kehoe carries out a series of bombings at Bath Consolidated School that kills 45 people.
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Austin, Texas. 1966. Charles Whitman kills his wife and mother before opening fire on students and pedestrians from the 27th deck of the observation tower at Texas University. 14 people die.
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Kent, Ohio. 1970. National Guardsmen open fire on a crowd of rallying youths at Kent State University. Four are killed and nine are wounded.

The disaster at Columbine has been the subject of many films. The first was Shock-O-Rama's 1999 straight-to-video buddy comedy Duck! The Carbine High Massacre. Months after it's initial DVD release online, the film had sold over 100 copies and was attracting the attention of tabloids everywhere. The two directors, William Hellfire and Joey Smack(who also played the two gunmen)were arrested for taking live guns on school premises to film. Thanks to support from their parents and cast members, the two spent very little time in jail. The film is now more widely available on DVD from Shriek Show. Troma tackled the Columbine issue in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV in a scene that shows a local paramilitary group named ''the Diaper Mafia'' taking a school hostage and killing dozens of students. What follows is a news broadcast that shows two anchormen blaming violent video games, rap music, and goth culture. Three higher-profile films called ''Zero Day'' ''Heart of America'' and ''Elephant'' also depict the massacre.
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Almost a year after the events at Columbine, the unthinkable happened. A six year old boy attending Buell Elementary School in Mt. Morris Township, Michigan brought a family owned pistol to school and fatally shot a six year old girl before ditching the weapon in a nearby waste basket and escaping to the boy's bathroom. This event was documented in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary Bowling for Columbine.

Well, I sure hope you enjoyed this article on Columbine and it's effects on modern day society. I wish I could think of better way to conclude this article but I can't. So, so long folks!