'Project X'-Inspired Party Leads to Teen's Death

A Houston rave inspired by the movie Project X resulted in a teen's death on Wednesday morning. How have we gotten so out of touch with reality?

‘Project X’-Inspired Party Leads to Teen’s Death

A Houston rave inspired by the movie Project X resulted in a teen’s death on Wednesday morning. How have we gotten so out of touch with reality?

-Lucia Peters

Project X

Have you heard of the movie Project X? I had kind of heard about it in passing, but movies about teens throwing crazy parties don’t really do it for me anymore (I must be getting old), so I haven’t made an effort to dig too much into it.

Until now. Because on Wednesday morning, a Houston teen was left dead after a party intended to mimic the one thrown in Project X spun out of control.

This isn’t the only party that has been thrown in recent days inspired by the movie—they’ve been the hot new craze, apparently, and they’ve caused over $100,000 in damages—but it’s the first one that has resulted in such a tragedy. According to ABC News, the Tuesday night party was held at a mansion surrounded by a field and attracted somewhere between 500 and 1,000 guests, nearly all of whom were teenagers. Bubbles and foam and trashcans full of spiked punch littered the floor. News of the event spread rapidly on Facebook and Twitter, contributing to the massive turnout.

Police responded to a noise disturbance at around midnight, which resulted in an outpouring of teenagers onto the street—but the parking lot was so overrun that no one could get out. And that, apparently, is when people started getting into arguments and shooting each other.

Willie Armstrong, a witness at the party, said, “[The gunman] was just walking, and he pulled out a gun and started shooting, like for no reason. He shot the boy in the back of the head and fell on the ground. He started shooting at the crowds, but then he ran through the field.” The gunman remains at large.

His victim died at Ben Taub General Hospital on Wednesday morning.

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According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mark Stephens, a private investigator working for the homebuilder, remarked, “I asked some of the kids why, and they said Project X. And I said, ‘OK, what’s Project X?’” He continued, “When you look at the movie and you look at what happened here, the parallels are uncanny. It was a copycat. They did everything I saw in the movie.”

There are a lot of questions I have about this incident. How did the party manage to get as far along as it did before any adults found out? Did the kids’ parents know about it? How did they gain access to the mansion in which it was held? Would it have gotten as out of control without the social media component?

But the biggest question, without a doubt, is this: How is it that teens—and, really, all of us—have gotten so out of touch with reality? Since when has it EVER been a good idea to mimic what we see on screen? I’m reminded of the incident from the early ‘90s when an episode of Bevis and Butthead inspired a child to set fire to his family’s home, killing his two-year-old sister. The child was only five years old, not a teen like those involved in the Project X incident; but there are many of the same elements at work here, which becomes even more troubling when you consider the fact that teenagers, who by all rights should know better, have fallen prey to the same media-centric thought process of a five-year-old. Chilling.

I don’t think we should start censoring movies or anything crazy like that. But I do think we need to start being more responsible about how we watch them—and about how younger generations are watching them as well, especially in a culture so saturated with media. If kids aren’t learning that the way things happen in movies isn’t the way they happen in real life, we need to fix that. We owe it to them to do so.

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s associate editor.

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