Anders Breivik: Metro-Psycho

When I first saw the images of Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik, the ones he had so help­fully included in his press pack that accom­pan­ied his ‘mani­festo’, two thoughts imme­di­ately popped into my net-addled head:

a) They look pho­toshopped. Especially the soft-focus glam­our one in the Lacoste jumper with the col­lar turned up

b) The ‘action man’ dressy-uppy pho­tos look like they’ve been pulled from a gay fet­ish dat­ing web­site. Look at all my sexy accessories!

When I com­pared them with the pic­tures of the inanely grin­ning, bor­ingly bovine bald­ing 31-year-old male being driven away in hand­cuffs in the back of a police car I con­grat­u­lated myself that I hadn’t arranged to meet him.

Deluded as he is, Breivik seems very aware of the dis­con­nect between the ‘Justiciar Knight’ image he wants to present to the world – which may appear laugh­able to oth­ers, but clearly turns him on like the Blackpool Illuminations – and the more hum-drum real­ity. According to The Daily Telegraph:

A nar­ciss­ist and a fan­tas­ist, Breivik, 32, refuses to have his prison ‘mug­shot’ taken to ensure that the care­fully stage-managed pho­to­graphs he took of him­self – in full Masonic regalia or clutch­ing his rifle – are not replaced by more hum­bling images.

Given his yen to stage-manage everything, even from behind bars, it’s per­haps not so sur­pris­ing that cos­tum­ing seems to be a con­tinu­ing pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of his:

Having been refused per­mis­sion to wear a com­bat uni­form, he has deman­ded to wear a red Lacoste sweater for his pub­lic out­ings to court or to the police sta­tion. He will not wear any­thing else.

Well, if you know your sig­na­ture col­our and you have a brand that you feel at home in, why change?

I have no desire to read Breivik’s mani­festo. It’s over 1,500 pages long. It’s demen­ted. Worse, it’s badly spelled. Plus there’s the small mat­ter of his mur­der­ing scores of people, most of them chil­dren, to make me and you do just that. To make us take his delu­sions of grandeur and pur­pose ser­i­ously. So for­give me if I don’t feel like curl­ing up with him.

There isn’t a ‘mys­tery’ to Breivik that needs to be unlocked, except per­haps by men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als. And even then, it cer­tainly wouldn’t be in his ram­bling, rant­ing cut-and-pasted scrap­book of (mostly American) right-wing nut-jobbery.

But plenty of people seem to take a dif­fer­ent view. Legions of journ­al­ists and com­ment­at­ors and soci­olo­gists are read­ing the mani­festo avidly, search­ing for clues. Explanations. Keys to unlock the ‘enigma’ that is Breivik and make sense of his sense­less slaughter. Perhaps it’s the media’s job to try and find mean­ing where there isn’t any, but even in seek­ing to refute or ridicule his argu­ments – or hold him up as an example of what hap­pens when right wing extrem­ism or miso­gyny is allowed to flour­ish as many lib­eral papers have done – I think they are in danger of flat­ter­ing him.

There are no ‘les­sons’ to be learned from the pathetic creature that is Breivik, no mat­ter how much he might want us to think so and no mat­ter how tempt­ing it is to pander to that. He’s crim­in­ally insane. End of.

And yet. Maybe I’m in danger of being a big fat hypo­crite here, but it’s increas­ingly dif­fi­cult for me to ignore some of the stuff in his mani­festo that keeps being dis­cussed. From a nice middle-class Norwegian back­ground, the per­petu­ally single (and “100% hetero”) chap laments that mod­ern men spend so much time wor­ry­ing about their clothes and their colognes.

He also bemoaned met­ro­sexu­als, see­ing them as part of the ‘fem­in­isa­tion’ of the cul­ture in gen­eral and men in par­tic­u­lar which was leav­ing Europe (wide) open to Islamification:

…men are not men any­more, but metro sexual [sic] and emo­tional beings that are there to serve the pur­pose as a never-criticising soul mate to the new age fem­in­ist woman goddess.

Other reports tell us that he was an avid gym-goer, took ster­oids and vis­ited tan­ning salons. There are also claims that he had plastic sur­gery in his early twen­ties on his nose and chin. And then we have those care­fully staged, pos­sibly pho­toshopped images and his refusal now to have his mug­shot taken or wear any­thing in pub­lic he con­siders unflattering.

Breivik was clearly in patho­lo­gical denial about all sorts of things – his own met­ro­sexu­al­ity was per­haps the least of them. But he went to and con­tin­ues to go to a great deal of trouble to present him­self to the world, how­ever camply, how­ever grot­esquely, as a ‘real man’, a Christian war­rior, while using and dis­play­ing many of the char­ac­ter­ist­ics of his hated ‘pass­ive’, ‘weak’, ‘fem­in­ine’ met­ro­sexu­al­ity to do that.

And in this, alas, he isn’t so unusual – just rather more extreme. There are a lot of met­ros in denial. Not all of them are out and proud. Quite a few are self-loathing as well as self-loving and diss ‘girlie-men’ met­ros in the hope that this will prove they’re not ‘that way’ them­selves. A bit like how it works, in other words, with your actual homosexuality.

Much of Breivik’s polit­ics was gleaned from right wing US web­sites, where chaps are always whin­ing about not being able to find a ‘real man’ these days (in much the same way gay bears do), and where ‘met­ro­sexual’ is used as the worst kind of insult. A fag who isn’t actu­ally a fag. Worse than a fag, in fact. A het­ero­sexual who allows him­self to be pen­et­rated by the weak­ness and effem­in­acy of gay men – spread­ing the dis­gust­ing dis­ease of unmanliness.

So, in a sense Breivik’s anti-metro tirades are just copy­ing and past­ing again. Likewise his camply con­flic­ted per­sonal present­a­tion seems to European eyes very American.

You don’t need to read A European Declaration of Independence to know that this ‘Christian war­rior’ mass-murderer clearly desires to be desired. The mani­festo, those glam­our shots and prob­ably even the awful crimes are one enorm­ous, mega-creepy per­sonal ad. Not so much met­ro­sexual as metro-psycho.

The worst of it is that to some extent Anders Breivik has achieved what appears to be his main goal. Not start­ing a war against the Islamic inva­sion of Europe and ‘cul­tural Marxism’. Nor get­ting people to read his bloody manifesto.

He’s become a celebrity.

Tip — Bat020

 UPDATE 17/04/12

It seems Breivik tired of the red Lacoste jumper and decided to go for some­thing more formal, but still designer (with very pad­ded shoulders) for his court appear­ance this week. And a fash­ion beard that accen­tu­ates his ‘heroic’ jaw-line. Quite the dash­ing ‘Christian warrior’.

From his metic­u­lously craf­ted appear­ance, his rehearsed clenched fist salute, to the tears on view­ing his own pro­pa­ganda film, to to his lack of response to the tapes of the final moments of the people he slaughtered to get this gig in front of the word’s media, it’s obvi­ous that Breivik is thor­oughly enjoy­ing the atten­tion and won’t let the small mat­ter of all those dead bod­ies spoil his week.

UPDATE 24/08/12

Breivik was ori­gin­ally dia­gnosed as a para­noid schizo­phrenic and thus not respons­ible for his actions — i.e. crim­in­ally insane. This caused an out­cry in Norway and, highly unusu­ally, two more forensic psy­cho­lo­gists were called in. This time a much more pop­u­lar dia­gnosis was delivered: they declared that because of the way he metic­u­lously planned his attacks he couldn’t be crazy.

Today the Oslo dis­trict court where he has been on trial for mass murder went with the second dia­gnosis, declared him leg­ally ‘sane’ and sen­tenced him to 21 years in prison — though he is unlikely to ever be released.

Everyone seems happy with this ver­dict. The sur­viv­ors. The fam­il­ies. Norway. The media. Breivik is per­haps the hap­pi­est. Unless he was play­ing an Oscar win­ning Br’er Rabbit, the thing he appeared to fear most was being ruled insane and thrown in a spe­cially built psy­chi­at­ric unit indef­in­itely. In his mind he is now a ‘polit­ical pris­oner’ not a highly dan­ger­ous mentalist.

I can’t say I blame Norway for per­haps mov­ing the goal­posts to make sure he was found crim­in­ally respons­ible. But in a sense, his ‘Christian war­rior’ delu­sions have been endorsed.