Trayvon Martin’s horror movie and ours.
I have not been able to watch much of the Zimmerman trial because I find it too infuriating, but the media coverage has been very revealing in what it has missed. Imagine a 17 year old boy, walking back to his father’s house from a trip to the 7-11. It’s night, it’s raining. Like most US teenagers, he’s got the earbuds in and is on the phone. He’s chatting with a friend, not a girlfriend, but a girl who is his friend.
Gradually, this kid realizes he is being followed by a creepy looking man in a black SUV. Maybe at first he doubts it, but he keeps on walking and the SUV keeps following him. If he’s like most teenage boys, the last thing he wants to do is tell a girl that he is scared, but he tells his friend he is being followed. He should be scared because the 200lb man in the car is armed, with a bullet in the chamber of a gun with no safety, he’s been arrested for violent behavior in the past, been fired for violent behavior, has applied for and been rejected by police departments, has been doing martial arts training, and is on prescription drugs that are known to have side effects of aggression and hallucinations. That man gets out of the car, in the dark and the rain, with his gun and an intention not to let one of “those assholes” escape, and the teenager ends up with a bullet in his heart. This is a horror movie come to life for the boy and his parents. Any parent or brother or sister or cousin or just fellow human being should be horrified.
Even though the scenario I describe above just repeats uncontested facts, for many Americans, it has been more natural to imagine the scenario in which the honor roll high school student with no police record was the aggressor and the armed man who followed him in the dark was the victim. Those people imagine the dead kid as some sort of dangerous criminal on the loose who assaulted the man who killed him. What a depraved and creepy view of the world - and it’s a common view among millions of our fellow citizens. We live in a world where normal looking people around us are filled with so much ill-will and are so empty of empathy and ordinary human feeling that they identify with a killer and not his victim. This is a horror movie come to life for all of us - we are surrounded by zombies or alien invaders who look just like people.