Columbine

Columbine

by

Dave Cullen

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Trench Coat Mafia Term Analysis

A clique of students at Columbine who dressed in trench coats and considered themselves outcasts. As the Columbine massacre was still unfolding, student witnesses erroneously identified the shooters as members of the Trench Coat Mafia (TCM, for short) and described them as “Goth” and “obsessed with death.” Though the Trench Coat Mafia did exist at Columbine, neither Eric Harris nor Dylan Klebold was involved with the clique. The “trench coats” that they wore during the murders were not even technically trench coats—they were long black dusters. The mystique and darkness of the phrase “Trench Coat Mafia” caught on in the media and the public, and became one of the “myths” of Columbine often associated with the attack, despite its proven falsehood, to this day.
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Trench Coat Mafia Term Timeline in Columbine

The timeline below shows where the term Trench Coat Mafia appears in Columbine. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 15: First Assumption
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...outcasts continue to emerge, witnesses from the school describe the shooters as members of the Trench Coat Mafia —a group of “Goth” students at Columbine “associated with death and violence.” This claim is... (full context)
Chapter 20: Vacant
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...contributors to the tragedy, though violent movies and video games, Goth culture, bullies, Satan, the Trench Coat Mafia , and both boys’ parents are. Both sets of parents release statements to the press... (full context)
Chapter 27: Black
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...the term stuck. Eric and Dylan were not among the students who made up the TCM, though their friend Chris Morris was. The TCM “heyday” died down, and Eric and Dylan... (full context)
Chapter 28: Media Crime
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...thinks of Columbine. Though “we remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the TCM snapping and tearing through their school hunting down jocks,” Cullen insists that “none” of that... (full context)
Violence and Spectacle Theme Icon
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Failure Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...hours into the coverage, the media had assigned the blame for the attack to the TCM, “a cult of homosexual Goths in makeup orchestrating a bizarre death pact for the year... (full context)
Memory, Bearing Witness, Trauma, and Testimony Theme Icon
Media: Misinformation and Sensationalism Theme Icon
...focusing on “bullying and alienation,” again falsely reporting that there were “long-simmering rivalr[ies] between the TCM and [Columbine] athletes.” Though the details are accurate—there were indeed tensions between these two groups—Eric... (full context)