The Rise of the Omega Male: James Holmes and Travis Bickle, two failed PUAs

The predictably narrow-minded and limited analysis of the Denver movie theatre shooting rolls on as the mainstream media seeks to create a simple and digestible narrative for the masses to consume according to its usual paradigm. ABC news yesterday focused upon his “downward spiral from a successful and apparently happy student to an accused mass murderer”  which, according to the US broadcaster, began after he failed an exam in June, apparently prompting him to go out and buy a high powered rifle; three days later he withdrew from his PhD programme. A few weeks of planning and preparing for the shooting then followed.  Thinking about the shooting over the last few days, watching the coverage on TV (in the UK) and reading some of the more considered and thoughtful analysis on the Manosphere (Roissy has probably penned the most interesting article on the shooting here http://heartiste.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/holmes-another-lovelorn-beta-male-rampage/) got me thinking about the rise of the Omega male over the last three decades. That is for the uninitiated, the young adult male who more often than not still lives at home, has few or no friends, has most likely never had a girlfriend and fills his hours away from his low income, low status job with video games and porn. Figures recently suggested that 25% of under 30s still live at home in the UK with their prospects for jobs, homes and families ever diminishing. The figures must be similar in the US. Young adult males are now battling a double dip recession, massive university loans and increasing unemployment as well as having to draw on a poll of third generation feminists as potential mates in a Sexual Marketplace where hypergamy runs rampant and even “average” guys struggle to find success in the mating (and employment) game.

Thirty seven years ago, Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro and Paul Schrader collaborated on the landmark 1970s film, “Taxi Driver” in which a returning Vietnam vet with insomnia takes a job driving a cab around New York. Scorsese wonderfully captures the NY streets of the 1970s with gritty documntary-like photography which has a hallucinatory, expressionistic quality suggesting the warped lens of Travis’s mind’s eye, simultaneously repelled and fascinated by the pimps, hookers and drug dealers that populate the city’s mean streets after dark.  Travis is quite possibly the first Omega male to be the central character in an American film. Certainly no film had presented the point of view of such an alienated outsider in such detail and with such intensity since James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. Dean’s portrayal of Jim Stark, though groundbreaking at the time, presented a misunderstood but relatively harmless kid struggling with growing up with a weak father and unable to find his way amongst the well established cliques in his new high school.

Travis is older, a man in what should be the prime of his life played by DeNiro summoning all of his method powers with demonic intensity. Travis, however is going to waste, adrift in an urban landscape of petty crime, alienation and loneliness. DeNiro brilliantly captures Travis’s hopeless struggle to find a connection, purpose and meaning in his life; he is, in today’s terms, borderline autistic, incapable of empathy, irony and emotionally dead.  There’s an implication that he has been traumatised by the horrors of Vietnam but that is not dwelt upon.

The film impresses upon us early on how socially inept Travis is but subtly, almost subconsciously, creates the idea that he is clearly a product of a sick society full of weak men, be they pimps, cuckolds (a brief cameo by Scorsese as a passenger), political candidates or fellow workers. Into this volatile mix is thrown Betsy, a beautiful but haughty intern working on a political candidate’s campaign who Travis immediately pedastalises (“She appeared like an angel out of this filthy mess”). Travis spots her and decides to do a daygame approach that any PUA would be proud of, except something is really “off”. Travis’s lack of approach anxiety hasn’t come through his own willpower and conscious need to overcome his fears and demons regarding approaching women. It’s his ignorance of social boundaries and naivety that allow him to strut into the campaign headquarters and after initially adopting an indirect approach with a wry smile on his face (“I’d like to volunteer”) he quickly switches to a direct style (“I think that you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen”) which elicits a cautiously positive approach from Betsy. (Notice Betsy’s co-worker, a smart-assed beta male played wonderfully by Albert Brooks who immediately tries to cockblock Travis but fails). (You can see the initial approach here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l2hwkqmHxU).

After an awkward but not disastrous coffee date, Travis takes Betsy out at night and enters the world he normally only has a voyeuristic relationship with. In the first of several scenes where we begin to question how far from normality or sanity Travis is drifting, he takes Betsy to see a porno. Betsy is still sufficiently engaged by Travis in her hindbrain to enter the theatre and take a seat but seconds into the film the forebrain kicks in and Betsy gets up and leaves. The film does not resolve the quesd htion of whether Travis is trying to rub her face in the filth so to speak or whether his social ineptitude is beyond all help. I tend to feel the latter is the most logical interpretation due to his attempts to apologise afterwards, when he goes uber beta with flowers, messages and phone calls.

Travis then goes into full Omega mode, buying guns, ammunition, doing pull-ups and push-ups, watching TV with a gun in his hand. Travis’s focus becomes the two Alpha figures who act as the source of his discontent; Betsy’s boss, the political candidate Palantine and the pimp Sport, played by Harvey Keitel who is pimping out the under age Iris played by Jodie Foster. After a failed attempt to assassinate Palantine, Travis flees to the street corner where Sport hangs out and shoots him, entering the building where Iris resides, killing various low-lifes on the way in and effectively rescuing her after failing to take his own life having run out of bullets. In an ironic coda to the film, Travis has been declared a “hero” by Iris’s parents whom she is returned to; we then see Betsy who it appears has sought Travis out entering his cab and small talk ensues in which Betsy declares, “I read about you in the papers”. This is greeted calmly by Travis who coolly downplays his perceived heroism.

Travis has now achieved Alpha status; a hero through violent action, he is now being chased by the hypergamous “starfucker” who previously rejected him as too Beta/Omega. Scorsese/DeNiro went on to further explore these dynamics through other characters who ironically appear to be Alpha but whom are fatally flawed in their inability to deal with women. Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull and Jimmy in New York, New York all descend into paranoid and controlling behaviour rather than displaying genuine Alpha dominance. All need fame and/or notoriety to validate their egos and eventually gain the public recognition they crave. The Scorsese/DeNiro collaboration King of Comedy presents yet another basement dwellling Omega unable to relate to women, prepared to resort to kidnapping a famous chat show host in order to gain fame and therefore secure Alpha status in the eyes of a sick society which is happy to accommodate, hungry for novelty and thrills as it is.

Returning to James Holmes, there is no doubt that he is a classic example of the Omega, alienated, rejected and ignored by the world around him but fuelled by violent fantasies which he saw in the real and fictional violence that permeates Western mainstream culture through movies, videogames and MTV (the natural habitat of the Omega). In the years after WWII, this guy would have had a job, a wife and even perhaps some kids by now; those opportunities for a normal family life have been slowly eroded over the last five decades for tens (hundreds?) of thousands of young males whose sense of purpose as integrated men should be a cause for concern.

With “Taxi Driver” in the mid 1970s, the film makers predicted a new kind of American male, alienated by modern politics, modern women and the low status menial jobs that were available to them. Holmes’s failures academically/professionally and in his relationships (or lack of them: I’m assuming the guy was a virgin) have been well documented in the mainstream press. For those who have taken the red pill and learned some game this is all plain to see but in the meantime the false debate about “gun control” is a wrong-headed diversion, distracting most people away from deeper underlying problems in society. How many more Omegas like Travis Bickle and James Holmes are out there planning and waiting?

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