Self-proclaimed nerd Arthur Chu, also a 12-time "Jeopardy!" winner, says that Elliot Rodger, the young man suspected of killing six people in Isla Vista, California, is a product of an entitlement culture that extols the narrative of working hard and winning the woman.
In a lengthy essay published May 27 on The Daily Beast, Chu lambasts his peers for their wonky interpretation of nerd entertainment such as “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Family Matters” and “The Big Bang Theory,” which depict fantasies of nerdy guys winning over "unattainable hot girls."
He asserts that this fantasy has been interpreted as being attainable in real life, and he unabashedly asks his fellow male nerds, “What the f--k is wrong with us?” for falling for such a delusion.
“We are not the lovable nerdy protagonist who’s lovable because he’s the protagonist,” Chu writes.
His essay also states that the reason nerdy guys who do all the “right things” may not end up with the dream girl in real life isn’t because of the girl’s callousness, as Rodger apparently believed, it’s simply because women and girls are not commodities.
“It’s because other people’s bodies and other people’s love are not something that can be taken nor even something that can be earned -- they can be given freely, by choice, or not,” Chu proclaims.
He dissects the 141-page manifesto written by Rodger prior to the violent rampage near the University of California, Santa Barbara. In that chilling document, the 22-year-old student details his motivation for allegedly killing six people, writing that his “War on Women” was based on rejection, misery and loneliness.
“I will punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex," Rodger wrote. "They have starved me of sex for my entire youth, and gave that pleasure to other men. In doing so, they took many years of my life away. I cannot kill every single female on earth, but I can deliver a devastating blow that will shake all of them to the core of their wicked hearts.”
Later in his manifesto, Rodger imagines corralling women into concentration camps:
I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die. If I can’t have them, no one will, I imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this. Women represent everything that is unfair in this world, and in order to make this world a fair place, women must be eradicated.
Rodger's writing portrays women as something easily wiped away for denying him their value: sex. Chu sees this misogyny as an illness of American culture.
“[T]he overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to ‘earn,’ to ‘win,'” he writes in The Daily Beast.
Chu’s view is echoed in Sasha Weiss’ New Yorker piece on the power of the social media hashtag campaign #YesAllWomen, which is raising awareness about violence against women in light of the Isla Vista tragedy.
Rodger’s fantasies are so patently strange and so extreme that they’re easy to dismiss as simply crazy. But, reading his manifesto, you can make out, through the distortions of his raging mind, the outlines of mainstream American cultural values: Beauty and strength are rewarded. Women are prizes to be won, reflections of a man’s social capital. Wealth, a large house, and fame are the highest attainments.
This culture of misogyny, to which Weiss and Chu allude in their posts, has been a common thread in the ongoing debate over who or what is to blame for the killings in Isla Vista. Some point to mental illness, while others proclaim it was Rodger's access to a firearm. But Chu raises one simple point for his nerdy, frustrated peers:
What did Elliot Rodger need? He didn’t need to get laid. None of us nerdy frustrated guys need to get laid. When I was an asshole with rants full of self-pity and entitlement, getting laid would not have helped me.
He needed to grow up.
We all do.