Tuesday, January 15, 2008

This Is For You

"I'm waiting for...as soon as the manager leaves, I'm going to ...uh....do it." This is the chilling introduction to the harrowing final three minutes of a young man's life. A final three minutes predicated by a slow descent into mental collapse that was meticulously documented via videotape. The final three minutes of Ricardo Lopez.

January 14, 1996, the 21st birthday of Ricardo Lopez was the beginning of what would be his eight month spiral into the darkest depths of the mind. Already dealing with an unhealthy obsession towards Icelandic singer Bjork, Lopez decided that day to become "the angel of death for her."

So begins the 18 hours of footage detailing his plans, his actions and his motivations. It is a grim glimpse into the mind of someone who is slowly losing their touch with reality. A view of a mind that has become duplicitous, capable of interacting with other people externally in an unnoticable fashion while teeming and seething inside, burning with a desire to destroy both itself and others.

The method of this destruction was to be a bomb, disguised as a book, which he would mail to Bjork. This bomb was designed to spray Bjork in the face with a large payload of acid with the intent of either killing her outright or disfiguring her for life. He chronicled the design, testing and ultimate creation of this bomb over the coming days. The day after mailing this bomb to Bjork, he took his own life, also on camera.

The hours of tapes left by Lopez leave the viewer with a keen insight into the decaying mind of one who is slowly losing their grasp on reality. There is an intimacy to be found, as this man, damaged though he may be, is allowing you, as voyeur, to follow down the path behind him, hoping to give you as a viewer some insight into exactly what motivates him and why he has come to this decision.

These are not easy videos to watch. Reality is far scarier than fiction, and his descent only seeks to emphasize the fact that anybody has the ability to fall just as far. His tapes were created not to establish a cult of personality or to bring himself undue fame and attention. These tapes exist to serve as a warning to others who might find themselves sliding into the same trap as himself.

That he was a victim of a mind beyond his control is apparent in those last few minutes of his life. The stage was set for his actions, and the same meticuolous attention to detail was paid for the final scene. His head was shaved clean of all hair and painted in a set of crimson and green stripes. A hand written sign was placed behind him with the cryptic message "The best of me" scrawled across it. (Popular speculation is that he had intended blood and brain matter to hit the sign after the act, hence the phrase.) With a computer nearby to provide the soundtrack he makes his final statements to the world.

[The song Venus As A Boy plays in the background]

I just want to say, that...uh...my last words. What are my last words? Well, fuck the world, that's my last words. And, uh, fuck Bjork. Her and her nigger loving self. Um, the chances of it [the bomb] being entirely successful, like I said before, I'm not gonna count on it. But, nonetheless, it being out there, I consider it a great venture. Nonetheless, I was gonna die anyway. Not because of her, but...uh...rather because of my own reasons. Um...Let me just check one more time.

[He gets up and adjusts the camera. When the film resumes, I Remember You is playing.]

This death is for you, Bjork. No, excuse me...uh...for you to see it. In some compensation for the pain that I have caused you and or maybe will cause...uh....Everything else in my life that I've fantasized about, I've accomplished. This is...uh...This is the last song. After this, I'm dead.

He begins to take a series of long, deep breaths, occassionally glancing back at the camera. He seems to be placing himself into a trancelike state, likely to allow his body to perform the physical actions that his mind will resist on instinct alone. After twenty or so breaths, he quickly brings the gun to his mouth, says "This is for you" and pulls the trigger. His body slumps to the floor and the soundtrack goes quiet aside from the sound of the blood leaving his head.

What purpose can this video serve, aside from the ghoulish entertainment of people that you'd rather not meet? It serves two purposes. The first is as a warning. This video allows you to see firsthand what can happen when a mind loses control and proper help is not sought. There is no doubt that Ricardo's fate would have been different, had he gotten the help he obviously needed. The other purpose is to serve as an intimate account of where the mind can go, given the freedom to do so. Ricardo ultimately takes the viewer down the darker paths of life that the majority of us would never tread. But like it or not, those paths are there. To some, it allows for an understanding of the human thought process, of motivation and of the power of the mind to act above the will of its owner.

You will notice that I did not include links in this post, as I normally do. If you would like to read this same article with links, and also with a link to those final three minutes, click here. This will take you to my personal blog where this information can be found. I do not wish to provide these via Bonez, as an innocent click could lead to undue upset.

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CW FISHER said...

Ow. Beautiful post, sad story. Depression is such a killer. Posting this is a great public service. The more people can see the behavior of the afflicted, the more people can be identified and helped. Sadly, with depressed people now trending toward harming others (V Tech), I worry that the authorities will start rounding up depressed people. This would be a mistake. We don't round up well.

E said...

Agreed. But I think at least part of the blame can be placed on the fact that the media tends to make superstars out of those who commit atrocities. Mailing a bomb, attacking students at a school/university, going on a rampage in a mall, all of these activities will buy you your 15 minutes of fame. The allure of infamy can certainly be seen as a contributing factor to incidents such as this. Of course, the majority of the problem will always lie with the afflicted person and those around them who should have the courage to say something when they can see the decline.

They can never round up those with depression or other mental illnesses. Mental illness afflicts a higher percentage of people than physical illness. There just happens to be an unnecessary and unfair stigma attached to it.

Marloes said...

This one really grabbed me by my throat. How very very sad. I thank you for not showing the film. I have no desire to see a young man bow himself into kingdom come. My questions is (as I have asked myself many times before after incidents like this) where on earth did he get the gun?and where on earth were the parents?

E said...

Perfectly valid questions. If he filmed himself over the course of 8 months, how was no one able to figure out what was going on?

Anonymous said...

hard core stuff, the video.

E said...

It's pretty intense, that's for sure. At the same time I find it fascinating.

Anonymous said...

i've seen suicides before, and decapitations and executions on tape...this was something bizarre. quite tragic, really...as is pretty much every suicide brought on by depression.

E said...

I have viewed much of the same material, I'm sure. This one kind of sticks with me just because of the sheer amount of video he left. Like I said, it just feels kind of intimate. He's really letting you into his mind before he sets his mind free.

Lisa Wines said...

Wow. I can't go view the video. I'm a chicken. But the word testimony comes to mind. His own. I imagine this will foster much debate...interesting questions arise. Who can we blame is the first one, usually. But life is too complex to select one guilty party. The Internet and YouTube has revolutionized self expression. And it's quite democratic, in that you have to shuffle through tons of crap to find the gems. But, if this was the 1800's, he could have left behind eight months, or years, of hand-written diaries, culminating in an oh-so-poignant suicide note. Good comes out of bad. Perhaps parents will do a double-take and look at their teenagers differently. Stop being self-obsessed and become other-focused...asking themselves, who might be in need today.

Not sure of anything. But there it is...to be experienced, influenced, discussed.

Unknown said...

Marloes, the answers to your 2 questions are in his video. If you really want to have a better understanding of people in this situation then you will have to watch the video. Asking 'where on earth' does not qualify one for discussion.