- Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide
Rwanda Since the 1994 Genocide


First Kill PCON movie response #1

By dagan on January 29, 2013

After watching First Kill, I was struck (as a PCON major, yet once again) by the potential for man to kill another fellow human being. Particularly interesting was the psychological effect that war has on people. How can it be that people who have never experienced war or violence before are so attracted to it? Where do people get the “thrill”? People may watch videos, hear stories – but there seems to be something beyond those things that draws people – rather forcefully – to do unimaginable things. As one interviewee stated: “I just had a very strong attraction to war. I didn’t believe in the war, but I believed in my being there. I wanted to see war for complicated reasons, I can’t explain.” On killing another human being, another said: “It was a rush; it was a high you couldn’t even imagine. So you keep on killing.” From what I have learned about the Rwandan genocide, scholars have noted how people were not attracted to the killing because Rwandans felt a certain hate towards their neighbors. After all, both Burnett and Umutesi from this week’s reading note how people lived in a symbiotic relationship with one another, sharing similar customs, language, and religion. What, then, did attract people to kill – and continue to kill in such a horrific manner? It seems from other outside readings (Straus, for example, in his book The Order of the Genocide) that people killed because they were left with little to no choice but to participate. It was either life or their own death. This, however, does not explain the brutality of it all – people being hacked by machetes; pants pulled down and suffering genital mutilation; etc. Even in the film, First Kill, what explains the brutality for putting an electrical wire down a woman’s throat and in her vagina and shocking her to death? How can that be necessary, or even fathomable? What thrill do people get from that? What do those actions accomplish apart from killing? What do they tell us about the potential for human impact?

1 Comment

  • Professor Thomson said:

    How much does the broader situational context in which the killing takes place matters? And the dynamics of power that shape what people choose to do to one another, resulting in death or the humiliation of being sexually assaulted. I think the “brutality of it all” is rooted in systems of oppression rather than innate capacity for violence. What do you think?

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