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Sensationalizing shooters in a victim-centered story

By Carleigh Turner, Web Designer

Sixteen years ago, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School.

Hidden under their black trench coats were dozens of homemade pipe bombs, seven knives, two illegal sawed-off shotguns, a 9mm semi auto assault pistol and plenty of ammunition.

On April 20, 1999 these boys murdered 13 of their classmates and left 23 injured. On April 20, 2016 audiences get to experience it all over again.

The film titled, "I'm Not Ashamed: The Rachel Joy Scott Columbine Story" explores the narrative of Rachel Joy Scott - the first victim of the tragedy.

In a society that tends to glorify and overreport the life stories of killers, it is refreshing to see a Columbine film that has little to do with Eric and Dylan. However, after watching the trailer, it is painfully obvious the film's director is using sensational images of the shooters to reel in curious viewers.

The trailer begins with a reenactment of one of the "Basement Tapes" that Dylan and Eric had created prior to the shooting. A disconcerting way to start a seemingly positive film.

Yes, Rachel being killed in Columbine is a vital part of her story, but is it necessary for the film to spend such precious screen time on the people who did it?

The title of the film is also irritating. If this movie is making an effort to break free from the intense societal demand to profile killers, why can't we just hear the Rachel Scott story? This woman did more than get shot in the head, as the film attempts to suggest.

Dylan and Eric knew they were going to be household names before they walked through Columbine's doors that morning and any media reference to them is giving them exactly what they wanted.

The following is a transcription from one of the duo's basement tapes.

"Directors will be fighting over this story. I know we're gonna have followers because we're so fucking God-like," Dylan Klebold said.

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The boys later speculated whether Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino should direct the film that was sure to be made about their massacre.

When the nation hears of another mass shooting, people turn to their trusted news sources for answers. Mass media answers their requests with centerfold spreads, front-page exposés on the person responsible and hour-long TV segments on "The Mind of a Rampage Killer."

These stories are captivating because they conflict with the basic human survival instinct. When people hear stories of total disregard for life and the suffering of others, they question their ideas of humanity, making them rethink their safety and security, according to an article in Psychology Today.

This innate curiosity toward killers creates a need for documentaries, news organizations and others to "humanize" these characters, letting the general public into the dark, twisted, lives these monsters were living in.

The media is really just responding to our human need to understand how or why killers do what they do.

We see this in the days following a massive shooting. In less than a week, readers and viewers can expect to learn the life story of whoever committed the heinous act. In the flurry of these reports, viewers may be lucky enough to catch a list of names and pixelated Facebook photos - the media's pathetic attempt to respectively report a body count.

This film has the opportunity to right the media's wrongs by producing content about a tragic event and not give any credit to the killers.

Rachel's decision to not deny her faith in the face of death has been an inspiration to many. The trailer does a brilliant job of showing her positive impact on the school community and those around her, however this message would be much more effective if audiences did not have to watch two paid actors try their darndest to portray two, evil individuals the entire movie.

As of press time, the film's website has only posted one trailer so current knowledge on the film's content is limited. However, if the film mirrors the trailer, it will have done a disservice to Rachel and all those brutally attacked that day.