Last summer Americans eagerly awaited the last act of one of its most successful superhero franchises, The Dark Knight Rises. Audiences expected to see one of their favorite heroes do battle with a monstrous villain and somehow save the day. For a theater full of excited fans in Aurora, Colorado that wanted to see the movie first, their projected idea of what heroes and villains were was replaced with something far scarier and much more real.
The news story reported that a dozen people were killed and 70 others injured by a lone gunman, dressed up as a Batman villain, named James Holmes. Talking heads were quick to point a finger at the violence in movies while the rest of us waited for more details and sent our thoughts and prayers out via social media.
When I heard about what happened in Aurora that night I immediately remembered Columbine, Virginia Tech and all the other mass shootings that had taken place over the years. Unlike the mainstream media who all seemed to scratch their heads wondering what could cause someone to do this or were busy blaming violent movies every single one of them watched or helped promote on a regular basis, I simply shrugged and said to myself, "sounds like another one."
You see, there is a common denominator to all of these mass shootings. People wonder what would cause someone to shoot at dozens of people because they all know it must take something extreme to make someone do that. They're right. It does take something extreme to make someone do it because without that thing, people just wouldn't do it. So what's the common denominator? Mind altering, psychiatric drugs.
I knew the media would have their version of the story but I also knew we would have ours. Me and Dan got together and worked out a song that talked about Aurora but also talked about the overall epidemic, the true cause of all these mass shootings: psychiatry. What we came up with was the song Arkham Amerika, told in three parts, one of a young boy named Jeremy (I named him Jeremy after the Pearl Jam song) whose mom tells him he can't go see the new Batman movie because it's too violent and dangerous. The second part is about Rebecca, studying to be a Psychiatrist and likes to watch the people walk by while she sits in the park. The last part is dedicated to an anxiety ridden man whose wife is having an affair with his dentist and happens to be the chair of a committee that will be voting on what the latest psychiatric disorders will be.
Arkham Amerika is about Aurora but it's also about the overall, big elephant in the room that happens to be invisible to most Americans. For a lot of people they see psychiatry as doctors, professionals in white coats that went to school for many years and so when they say something it must be right. The government allows them to be and the FDA approves their medications so... That line of logic has lots of holes.
When you look at the statistics of psychiatry you see a trail of destruction that would make Hitler envious, in fact psychiatrists were pushing him along. Electric shock still happens. A lot of people don't realize it. The pills that people take don't cure anything and there's no blood test or any other medical test to prove there was anything to cure in the first place. Yeah people get sad and depressed and angry and a whole lot of other things but that's part of living life. The solution is to go out and live some more of it, not drug yourself into a numbness or wreck your ability to think to the point that you want to end your life and the lives of everyone around you.
The real Joker, the actual villain in this story is not James Holmes, although he is definitely responsible for what he got himself into. The real problem is those guys in white coats and the whole profit driven industry around them. A lot of money is made playing on people's mis-emotions. Pharmaceutical companies, drug stores, doctors, television commercials, advertising agencies, government agencies and schools are all a part of this. When you go against popular belief and look at the actual scene, acknowledge that gut feeling that people shouldn't have to take pills to feel better, etc. you are left with the truth. The real monsters in our world won't come in the middle of the night dressed in killer clown make up ready to shoot us while we sit with our loved ones. The real monsters are far too big of cowards to come themselves. Their work will be done with lawyers, board rooms, money, silent weapons, the stroke of a pen and smiling the whole time.
Arkham Amerika is an important song for us. We tried to take a serious subject and make it something you could listen to and actually laugh at, rock out to and most importantly, learn something from. The X-Ray Poetz don't just make music. Everything we do shouts message. What's the message in Arkham Amerika? We've got a whole lot of Jokers running around and we're hoping enough people decide to put on the cowl and be Batman.