Comment of the Day

Reader: When It Comes to Guns, Leave Keanu Reeves Alone!

Keanu Reeves, as seen in The Matrix and John Wick, has been improperly blamed for two of the worst school shootings.
Keanu Reeves, as seen in The Matrix and John Wick, has been improperly blamed for two of the worst school shootings. File photos

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Surveillance footage of Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from April 20, 1999.
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Mast's mention of John Wick, a revenge flick with a high body count that stars Reeves as the title character, echoes the many post-Columbine attempts to suggest that killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were inspired by The Matrix based largely on its popularity at the time of the killings and their fondness for long jackets of the sort worn by Neo, the central figure portrayed by Reeves.

Granted, Reeves wasn't the sole target of such accusations. After Columbine, fingers were pointed at video games along the lines of Doom, which boasts a first-person shooter format, musical acts including Marilyn Manson and Rammstein, and even other movies. Take this nonsensical rant from Jeff Sessions, the current attorney general but then a senator from Alabama, in which he complained that youths "are able to rent from the video store — not just go down and see Natural Born Killers or The Basketball Diaries — but they are able to bring it home and watch it repeatedly. ... Many have said this murder was very much akin to The Basketball Diaries, in which a student goes in and shoots others in the classroom. I have seen a video of that, and many others may have."

Still, the idea that The Matrix may have influenced the Columbine attack is arguably the culture-war claim that's lingered the longest, in part because folks on opposite sides of the ideological divide have seriously considered it. Among the treatises about the subject that linger online nearly two decades after the horrific episode is a jeremiad from Michael A. Hoffman, who's been described as a conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier, and a salvo by progressive writer and onetime Denver radio host Bob Harris that appeared in the liberal bible Mother Jones. And in 2008, upon the release of the sequel The Matrix Reloaded, ABC News cited Columbine in a piece headlined "Does The Matrix Inspire the Disturbed?"

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