Brightburn: Do School Shooters Feel Powerful

Brightburn captured a lot of attention for being a dark reimagining of the classic tale of Superman. An alien baby crash landed in the middle of farmer country U.S.A and while growing up discovered how special he is. Unlike Clark Kent, the main character of Brightburn did not go on to do great things. This movie was graphic, violent, and full of horror. As mentioned early on in the movie, bees and wasps have many similarities on the outside but are very different creatures. Superman is a bumble bee that could be dangerous but mostly does things that help the world. Brandon Breyer is a wasp that is aggressive and serve no other purpose than to destroy.

However, I saw another comparison for the plot and their characters. The story of Brandon and his destructive use of powers could also be seen as how children use guns to commit mass shootings. The child is bullied in school for being weird, has trouble adjusting to society, and isn’t being given proper parenting to deal with the malicious thoughts brewing in his mind. The main character, Brandon Breyer, played by Jackson A. Dunn, is the perfect metaphor for a troubled child going down the wrong path, which ultimately leads to him murdering the people around him.

 

Guns Are A Superpower

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Firearms, and the role they play in rural America, are shown prominently throughout the movie. During Brandon’s birthday party, his father’s friend Noah, tries to give him a rifle. He adds how he had the same model at his age. The father, Kyle Breyer, freaks out and says his son is not ready for that kind of power and responsibility. It isn’t a stretch to correlate the manifestations of superpowers to the power of a gun. Throughout the film guns are brought up again in separate situations. The father grabs one when he thinks a wolf is attacking, they go on a hunting trip as a form of vacation, and most importantly he uses a gun in the attempt to murder his child after discovering what he has become.

I’m not going to assume your opinion on guns or the violence they cause. But they are the closest thing we have to powers in the real world. And just like how Superman uses his powers for good, and Brandon Breyer uses his for malice, guns are used for good and evil by the people who wield them. If we replace Breyer’s powers with a gun, he no longer appears as a sci-fi movie character but an all too real representation of many children in america; a child shooter. His mentality supports an example of how these children think, when dealing with an environment he doesn’t understand and is faced with bullying and a hint of chemical imbalance.

Breyer isn’t a normal kid. Sure, he’s an alien, but also he has a common personality to a select amount of children. He is too smart in a rural town where that is seen as a negative by other students. He doesn’t understand social cues of any kind. He doesn’t respect the boundaries of his crush or his aunt and more importantly he has a god complex. At one point we see him murder chickens, which killing animals has been linked to signs of psychopaths in psychological studies. I think this movie is a metaphor for children with mental instability being given a gun, or any amount of power, and them abusing it to kill people in order to suit a feeling of importance.

 

Where Were The Parents

Whenever there is a school shooting on the news, one of the first questions is “How did the parents let this happen?” The father and mother in Brightburn, played by David Denman and Elizabeth Banks, are basically as normal as they can be. The father has a little trouble connecting to his son and the mother is a little two protective, but other than that, they represent the average family in the Midwest. However, each of then react to their sons subconscious cries for help incorrectly, and this tells the audience how a warning can turn into a problem.

The father rejects his son. He lashes out and in the end actually tries to kill Brandon. Obviously the fact the son having superpowers, factoring in the need to save the world is taken into effect, but this ends up reflecting the desire of many fathers unfortunately, when they disapprove of their child. Even if they can’t help it. The mother on the other hand ignores and defends Brandon. She refuses to even consider her little angel would do anything wrong instead of looking at the events objectively. This is the stereotypical reaction of mothers and others that say “he was such a good boy” who never saw the signs. Both of these depictions of parental roles, were a child with issues can turn into a psychopath, could be given part of the blame.

Remember when I said guns are a power and they require responsibility? Well there is actually something that is far more powerful and requires far more responsibility, it’s called being a parent. Most of the time parents do their best and it’s good enough. None of us grow up without scars but we probably were close enough normal anyways. Some children, more as of late it appears, aren’t normal and require more attention and care. Being “normal” parents when dealing with a special needs child  could end up being a bad thing. The Breyer family had issues and they ignored it. This kid wasn’t a bee, he wa a wasp. And the parents could have stopped him from stinging others.

 

Is There A Point

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I’m not going to assume the creators of the film were going out of their way to make a point about school shooters. In no way do I think David Yarovesky and the Gunn brothers were trying to put out a message of bad parenting and genetic imbalances create monsters. I honestly think it just was a clever “what if Superman was evil” plot. No one else I have talked to about this movie has seen the same similarities that I did. But I do think there is some correlations nonetheless. Unfortunately at the end of Brightburn, the child kills anyone that knew his past and continues a rampage of destruction. And from what I can tell, there really was nothing anyone could have done anyways. So if this was a message or metaphor for school shooting, it was a dark one.

 

Movie watched and metaphor conjured by: Troy Smith

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