“Horror all around”!– “bloodbath”! – “graphic violence depicted”! warned the Sunday paper’s page one headlines – all teasing a story that the hasty reader might think was the latest episode in the chronicle of American mass murder, this time on the coast of Maine, in the small town of Brunswick.
The editors of the nearby Portland Press Herald apparently wanted its readers to be misled this way, at least for a few moments. Pictures on the January 13 front page featured armed, hooded figures shooting at an approaching car and at fleeing people, even as the captions revealed that the story was actually about “teen filmmakers” making “ultra-violent videos” that were getting millions of views on YouTube.
Even though the real story (see below), was already over, Sunday’s media over-reaction continued to flare on Tuesday with the Brunswick Times Record running an inherently false headline: “Kids Shooting Kids.” In the following story, a local reporter asked the central student filmmaker this hypothetical question: “Could the student be capable of a Newtown, Aurora or Columbine-style rampage?”
His answer was: “No.”
By Tuesday night the local TV coverage, while still exploiting the “violence” on air, was already beginning to sound a little embarrassed about making a stir over kid videos, when no one had been hurt, there was no reported property damage, and apparently no one broke any laws. On camera, two of the filmmakers were polite, rational, and all-American looking.
Fearsome Feral Teens Turn Out to Be Honor Students
As it turned out these students, probably 20 or more in all, had been making short videos for years – and the films’ popularity had provided an advertising base that made they quite lucrative. As one TV report noted, the producer, high school senior Paul Kousky, 17, who makes no secret of his identity as the owner of USN Films, recently bought a 2013 Honda Accord, and paid cash.
Come Wednesday, the first blogger struck, recycling the headline “Kids Shooting Kids” over a story that began by talking about “the discovery of a two-year spree of violent video making where local youth used public spaces to produce their ‘films’.” The blogger, Bruce K. Gagnon, lives in nearby Bath, Maine, where he is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, which was founded in 1992. He reported, inaccurately, that: “In the videos youth go around killing people randomly and wantonly.”