Hang around my favourite social network, the ever-irritating Facebook, for long enough and you’ll discover a preponderance of pages entitled I Fucking Love…, amongst which my favourite is I Fucking Love Science. It’s one of the few good reasons to continue to use said website instead of just living one’s online life completely on Twitter.
Since…er…I fucking love the I Fucking Love… phenomenon, and since I fucking love science fiction, I hereby bring you a humble little homage to both.
I recently read We Need to Talk About Kevin. If you’re unfamiliar with the text, it is written from the perspective of a mother whose always-peculiar son – the eponymous Kevin – goes into school one day and massacres a number of fellow pupils, a teacher and a canteen worker caught in the cross-fire.
So far, so ordinary. Whilst tragic in every conceivable way, and whilst highlighting wider social issues such as the taboos and stereotypes that society pretends don’t exist, explorations of high school massacres have been…well, they’ve been done, you know? I’ve seen countless documentaries and a few films on the subject (the most high-profile of which is Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, which really worth watching if you’ve not yet done so, even if you’re of the view that Mr Moore is something of a twat), and of course there are many books, songs, and even a game (!) on the topic.
But Kevin is different. Without rehearsing the entire text, it examines Kevin’s psychology, and that of his mother Eva, from every angle you can imagine. Was Kevin born ‘bad’? Was Eva’s lack of emotional attachment to her son from day one a catalyst for an inevitably sociopathic character? Is such a character genuinely incapable of feeling normal human affects? Nature vs nurture. The way the concept of parental love has been become so innately woven into the threads of Western society that no one talks about the fact that sometimes it just doesn’t exist. The impact of all-consuming grief on those left behind. And so much more.
How do you view the psychiatric phenomenon of psychosis? Is psychosis the quintessential stereotype of madness – people so badly affected by a mental illness that they live only in the world of apparent make-believe, where they talk to imaginary friends, view ‘real’ people with morbid suspicion, and worry that the pair of curtains that adorn the window are symbolic of communication from alien races?
If anything, it’s an idea that has been almost romanticised by fiction and the film industry – but if you’re reading this, then the chances are you know that it’s bollocks. All those things can be true of someone suffering from a psychotic episode, but the idea that it is a permanent state that routinely requires a strait jacket and a padded cell is as outdated as it is offensive.