The Traumatic Result of Mass Shootings: 'Vox Lux'
Columbine shocked the world in 1999. “It should never happen again.” Then, Virginia Tech in 2007. “It should never happen again.” Then, Sandy Hook in 2012. “It should never happen again.” Seven years late, and hundreds of shootings have rang out in the United States of America.
The government sends out “thoughts & prayers” and the wheel continues to churn.
But what about the children? The ones who wash the blood off their face and live on; The ones who should be excited about the homecoming dance rather than worrying about a potential school shooter; The survivors. What happens to them?
Brady Corbet’s “Vox Lux” is a modern period piece painting the traumatic “norm” of mass shootings. Utilizing unreleased Sia demos, the lyrics describe the aftermath of our current political state.
In “Vox Lux”, Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) is left for dead after a peer shoots her class. At 15, she writes a song about her suffering, only for the nation to claim it as their own anthem for grief. From there, she skyrockets to the top of the charts and becomes an icon. But the mountainous fame avalanches her adult life (portrayed by Natalie Portman) as she copes with tabloids, dysfunctional family life, and “big moments...getting stolen away.”
Celeste is a tragic figure “wrapped up” in the machine fueling art as a product for capital. The industry swoops in on her naive teenage years. Usually teenagers stress cram for a biology test, rather than filming a music video and recording in the studio back to back, but her bionic persona charges head first. Celeste is a young warrior ready to take on the world and shed her light among its darkness. Her confidence hides the fact that she is a high school student. Yet underneath her neck braced armour, she represses adolescent the usual vulnerability and confusion of growing up, only to implode in her later years.
Present day, Celeste fills her hours spreading out in various hotel rooms, doped up. The stolen years of freedom have caught up with her as we can see in her makeup chair. She must now face the wrath of a mass shooting “influenced” by her work, all on the same day as the opening night of her latest tour. She isn’t calm and optimistic as in her youth; she is rough and at times scary. Celeste continues spreading her vision of love and safety, but behind closed doors her wrath twists in screaming tantrums. Her deviant crying fits make up for fighting with parents about curfew or a call home about getting detention. In her mind, she is still a child following the breadcrumbs back home.
Celeste manifests the voice of a generation through pop music. The public reclassifies the words for their well being rather than Celeste’s intentions, hence her childish outbreaks on the small things. She still feels the the bullet in her spine and her music is the one prescription that keeps her going; besides the substance abuse.
So while the government continues its chaos, citizens can stumble into a Walmart and place a firearm into their cart out of a capitalist induced whim of existentialism. A white teenager can easily show faulty papers at a gun show and walk out with gun in hand. And so, if precautions are not taken by higher officials, the shootings will continue.
Schools are supposed to be a haven for children to learn, grow, and communicate with each other. With these inner scars, their future hinders the bright life they are meant to lead.
Why are the children’s youth and sanity being stripped away in the name to bear arms?