THE BLOG
04/19/2007 06:04 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Celebrity 2.0: Fame Kills

Our society, via our mainstream media, rewards important people with attention. Positive or negative - doesn't matter which. Attention is the currency in a world with too many people - whoever arrests the news cycle long enough to make themselves the topic, wins.

Cho, the VA killer, wanted the world to stop and pay attention to him... and the world did exactly that. Even the president stopped what he was doing to attend to the tragedy.

Cho played the media perfectly: he knew what kind of chum he'd need to make a shark-frenzy... and the media went wild. Cho predicted this response - he knew how big he'd be in death: he was a big fan of the famous Columbine killings. Cho, between shootings, and presumably still adrenal, took a break from slaughtering innocents to send his extensively prepared press-package to NBC: his "multimedia manifesto," containing at least six days of video footage, and self-styled Taxi Driver-esque publicity shots.

Cho stuffed the equivalent of a sociopathic My Space page into an envelope, sent it to NBC.....and now he is, as planned..... #1, with a bullet. He knew exactly what material the media would eat up. He virtually You Tubed it, and got his crucifixion - just not in the way that sane people would want it.

His material makes a point of mentioning Columbine killers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, speaking of them as guides for his martyrdom. Cho saw himself as the Jesus Christ of disenfranchised young losers, doomed to commit an act of gruesome revenge that "we" forced him to enact. Islamist suicide martyrs are celebrated in their culture with such videos; it is a certain tragic rock-stardom reserved as the last hope of the truly invisible and powerless, in a global climate where attention is the measure of success. Some people will kill and die to have their voices heard, particularly in a cultural framework that guarantees a certain postmortem celebrity to persons who go out with a sufficient bang.

"Malignant narcissism" and "narcissistic injury" is generally established as a primary motivation for serial killers (according to a fascinating NY Times article on the checkpoints of human evil). Clearly Cho was insane, and apparently a paranoid-schizophrenic. His materials , however, also spoke of cognac and limos; he seems to have suffered from acute Bling-envy. He craved recognition for his untold suffering.

Malignant narcissists seek a "narcissistic load" -- their drug of choice -- which is ATTENTION. Positive attention and negative attention are one and the same -- attention is attention. People suffering from this disorder tend to blame others for their difficulties, fly into a "narcissistic rages," and seek revenge as their due. Attention is the drug, the victory, the raison d'etre -- the narcissist simply needs to be the center of attention, and will get his fix by any means necessary.

Cho's successful domination of the news cycles condones, justifies and rewards his behavior... and encourages it in others who suffer from this affliction. Infamy is the same thing as Fame, for the malignant narcissist.

Our current habit of obsessing over celebrity infamy and disgrace: e.g., the nonstop reportage on the likes of Britney, Lindsay, Paris, and the late Anna Nicole Smith -- no doubt confirmed, for Cho, that his plan was a good one.

He saw the two-headed calf of the New Celebrity: it is Death Worship.

It must be said that other networks handled the story with more sensitivity and decorum - however, they weren't chosen by the killer as the outlet for his fame.

MSNBC'S Keith Olbermann spoke of NBC's decision to air Cho's material, mentioning that the network executives decided to run the footage because if they didn't, "the material would end up in the tabloids," and that they, as a legitimate news outlet, would handle the material more responsibly (which a bit like arguing that if you don't sell cigarettes to school-children, someone else will - and then selling the kids cartons instead of packs.) MSNBC's Scarborough Country aired press conference footage of a policeman in blue, commending the network for their brave action in "immediately" turning over the materials to the authorities (uh... after they copied them.)

Cho reached out in his videos, addressing many of his incoherent ramblings to future generations of disgruntled, schizophrenic losers who admire serial killers. Cho's brilliantly publicized rampage was his gift to future psychopaths, who will now have Cho as their new watermark, their new hero, their new rock star. As a student of killers, Cho probably knew exactly how many bodies he'd have to notch up to be the "biggest" killer in America. Future sociopaths will use his death-toll as a starting point.

The Virginia killer's "manifesto" -- and the media's willingness to dote on it like a catechism - will be the reason for future killers to do what they already feel like doing: shoot everyone that makes them feel small. As the Columbine killers' impulses were fed by the rapt, prurient attentions devoted to previous serial killers, so Cho was emboldened by our worship of the Columbine killings.

The reptile mind doesn't see societal judgment when seeing Cho's face on TV -- it doesn't see Right or Wrong. The reptile mind only sees the killer's face on TV: his photos, his face reading his words and his grievances to the entire world - his motivations analyzed by crime experts, shrinks, newscasters.

Cho's incredible success at his own brand of whacked-out martyrdom will surely inspire legions of imitators - more press photos, more video, more ranting treatises on how unfairly life has treated them.

With our collective attention, we have empowered those who get the most attention in the mainstream media: the worst of the worst. Cho, no doubt, will inspire future atrocities..... because in addition to killing 31 innocent victims, he made the media complicit in his crime. NBC was the Bonnie to Cho's Clyde. No legitimate psycho, now, will ever feel truly discouraged that his pathological need for attention will go unmet.

NBC must count itself as the invisible gunman in all copycat crimes resulting from the Virginia Tech massacre. They nailed Cho to the crucifix he so desperately wanted, and said, "Behold."