Book Review: The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer

The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer:  The True Story Of An Incel Mass Murderer, by Brian Whitney

[This book was provided free of charge by BookSirens in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

At the heart of this book is a question that the author struggles with and does not really consistently deal with, and that is the question of whether or not Elliot Rodger was in fact an incel.  As a volcel myself [1], I looked at this book and the contempt that the author showed from the incel community towards volcels and realized that the incels themselves were hating volcels because they did not realize that they too were voluntarily celibate on top of all of their other self-loathing.  Reading this book was deeply unpleasant, and while it would have been no less unpleasant in the hands of another writer, it is to be regretted that the author here views the coping mechanisms of mmo games from the point of view of an outsider rather than a more sympathetic insider.  In reading this book I get the feeling that it does not serve to reduce the stigma already faced by socially awkward young men, and thus is part of the problem of our contemporary culture’s anti-male attitude rather than part of the solution.

This book is about 150 pages long or so, and it begins with an author’s note and foreword that frame the interest the author had in the subject, a virginal mass murderer who apparently wrote and recorded various misogynistic manifestos.  The book begins with the day of retribution that added Elliott Rodger to the list of American mass murderers before taking a look at the life that went wrong.  It looks at how things went awry in a broken family, the struggle to be cool, as well as the problem that Rodger had with girls, being intensely attracted to them but unable to even converse with them.  And if all of this is relatable enough, if unpleasant, the author then discusses incel subculture with a look at the language of self-loathing men who both want to be and be with those they hold in contempt, which is a toxic sort of ambivalence.  This then leads to a discussion of events, including an attempt to win the lottery to become rich and a disastrous experience at a party, that led immediately to Elliott’s plans for mass murder.

Despite my qualms with the author’s approach and his apparent lack of empathy with the subject material, this book and its material is deeply disturbing even more for the attitude of the subject himself.  Elliot Rodger does not come off particularly well here, and certainly someone who was a “perfect gentlemen” would expect to appreciate women in conversation and not expect them to give themselves up because a male with low self-esteem happens to be around.  The tension between the desire of the subject and other young men like him to see themselves as victims of an unjust and unfair society and their clear envy and desire to avenge themselves on that society while simultaneously trying to present themselves as morally just is deep and I don’t know that we as a society have any good means of addressing that tension.  This is a book that certainly draws attention to a problem but it does not even come close to discussing how that problem can be solved, not least when there are at least quite a few people who view a mass-murderer as a hero and we live in a society–that includes the author–which views playing games and not being sexually active as being a sign of mental instability and being worthy of stigma as misfits.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2019/11/09/the-imaginary-incel/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book Review: The “Supreme Gentleman” Killer

  1. Brian Whitney says:

    Hey. I read your review on Goodreads. Thanks much. I commented there but I played WoW constantly for a very long time. I certainly don’t look at playing games as a sign of mental instability. Although I am a tad unstable myself. If you haven’t done so check out Elliot’s memoir. It’s quite interesting.

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