08/07/2012 11:31 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2012

Turning Killers Into Superstars? Are We Feeding Crime?

James Holmes had a dating profile on Wade Michael Page started a band. Holmes was a "quiet and easygoing" neuroscience student. Page was a heavily tattooed, "frustrated neo-Nazi."

Just hours after each of the heartbreaking shootings, Holmes and Page were on their way to becoming common household names. While locked behind bars, they become notorious Twitter superstars, dominating news feeds and television debates.

With each newfound detail about their lives, "breaking news" articles were continuously republished until the facts made their way onto Wikipedia.

And while some of the shooting victims received their 15 minutes of unwanted fame, the suspected shooters will have their names engraved in history books.

"America puts killers on the cover of TIME magazine, giving them as much notoriety as our favorite movie stars," Marilyn Manson wrote in a Rolling Stone article after the Columbine High School shooting. "From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception, have turned criminals into folk heroes."

It is likely that Holmes is sitting in his jail cell with an overwhelming stack of fan mail to keep him busy. The alleged gunman, who the media says was lonely, now has fans that call themselves "Holmies," many of which are fangirls who proclaim their love for the 24-year old killer.

But even those who wouldn't call themselves "fans" are obsessing over the strange, self-proclaimed "Joker." A Twitter handle dedicated to making jokes about the gunman has nearly 40,000 followers.

And the obsession doesn't end there. The media is equally concerned about finding out who James Holmes really is, partially to find his motivation.

Having a "human disposition to violence," as Manson says, is not enough of a reason to cause an intelligent young man to destroy the lives of 70 people, while also destroying his own.

"Throw a rock and you'll hit someone who's guilty," said Manson, discussing the psychology of the Columbine shooting aftermath. Members of society recline in sofa chairs, munching on popcorn while turning murderers into celebrities.

Attention-seeking loners may resort to seek notoriety -- an easily attainable fame.

But instead of blaming itself for fashioning criminals into sexy superstars, the media continues to feed the sick obsession by searching for blame elsewhere.

Some blame gun control laws for being too loose or too strict. Others blame the murderer's psychiatrist for writing inappropriate prescriptions. The University of Colorado has been heavily criticized for failing to act on a warning call about the alleged shooter's strange behavior. And others blame the Century 16 movie theater for lacking security on the night of the shootings.

Some have even blamed the Batman movie for turning men into cold-blooded killers. After the shooting, television channels across the country removed advertising for The Dark Knight Rises.

Rather than removing movie advertisements, people could restrain themselves from republishing minor details about the personality of the alleged killer.

"To walk into a place and have others care about what you're doing, even what you had for lunch that day: that's what people want," Kaysar Ridha, who competed in Big Brother, told The New York Times.

If Holmes were forgotten in a lonely cell, perhaps potential copycat criminals like self-proclaimed "Joker" Neil Prescott would not have threatened to shoot up his workplace.

But those like Holmes, and more recently Page, will continue to thrive on social media sites as the world continues to feed its next fame-seeking criminal.

"Don't be surprised if every kid who gets pushed around has two new idols," Manson said.