The King of Comedy, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert DeNiro came out in 1983 and was a prophetic look at celebrity worship and those who desperately seek fame, or just to be noticed, at any cost. The film has grown more relevant as each year passes and if you have never seen it, I highly recommend you do.
This week, Nasim Aghdam, a 39 year old woman from Southern California drove up to YouTube headquarters, shot and injured a few random employees and turned the gun on herself, ending her life. She seemed to have been very active on social media and apparently was upset that YouTube wasn't promoting her or restricting her videos in some way.
It looks like she was into boosting Persian culture, veganism, exercise and animal rights. Having seen some of her videos, she had a low budget, eccentric quality to her creations. It's not a far stretch to imagine people stumbling across her videos and sharing them for a laugh. However, she was quite serious about what she was doing.
I've read she had anger issues and thought there was some kind of conspiracy against not only her, but other unnamed YouTubers to suppress their free speech. While I don't doubt she likely had some mental issues, I can't help think of Scorsese's film. Could she have been upset that what she felt was quality material wasn't getting millions of views and a large loyal following? Perhaps she felt YouTube was the gateway for the world to recognize her messages she was passionate about.
In The King of Comedy, DeNiro's character Rupert Pupkin, has similar delusions. That his comedy is gold and the world needs him to laugh. He goes so far as to hatch a kidnapping of a popular late night talk show host to secure a chance to perform his routine. The parallels to this case are a little unnerving.
Adhdam took her anger and disappointment to some heavy levels this past Tuesday. I wonder how many other people are out there seething at the fact that someone on YouTube or Instagram has the attention of millions for dyeing their hair purple or eating the world's hottest pepper; hardly important or noteworthy shit to say the least.
But that's what the collective culture has become. A 24 hour a day freak show where people with more bravado than talent have platforms to find an audience and go for fleeting glory, or in a small percentage of cases, actually talented people forging out a career. The competition to get noticed is fierce, the chance for fame never easier and the desire to be a star nearly insatiable. The only problem Nasim Aghdam has reminded us of, is the castaways and those laughed at or worse, unnoticed and possibly losing their minds because of it, have readily available guns and at least one has come forward and said, "Fuck all of you, you're gonna pay".