Background Information and Debunked Myths
According to Principal John Dodig, he has directly caused between four and 10 thousand dollars worth of property damage.
A graffiti artist, working under the alias of “Blunt Kid,” operates prolifically in boys’ bathrooms throughout Staples. He has managed to elude the Staples administration and student body for over a year, despite investigation attempts and promises of a college recommendation from Dodig for the first student to come forward and reveal Blunt Kid’s identity.
“We have no leads,” Dodig said.
Blunt Kid’s “work,” which usually consists of a large marijuana cigarette, or “blunt,” combined with the inscription “Smoke Blunts,” has proven to be extremely controversial in nature. While Staples’ numerous graffiti artists of the past have employed racial slurs, offensive symbols, and genitalia as tag lines, Blunt Kid alone has elicited responses from other graffiti artists on the wall and the Staples community at large.
The mystique of Blunt Kid’s true nature and motivations has created a cult of personality around Blunt Kid, essentially elevating his priority in public attention over other bathroom vandals. As the investigation to find Blunt Kid’s identity carried on, multiple suspects were questioned. However, a trend began to unveil itself: those that were alleged to be the Blunt Kid denied all claims of actually being Blunt Kid, though nonetheless supported him heavily.
One such student, who wished to remain anonymous for risk of self-incrimination, put “Wanted: $500 Reward” posters for Blunt Kid’s successful capture in various locations throughout the school on one morning in November.
“My friends and I were just joking, but apparently the administration didn’t think it was very funny. They shut down our operation on the morning it began,” the student said.
However, claims that there is a reward for turning in Blunt Kid persist among the student body. Dodig reaffirms that there is no such monetary prize to be gained from revealing the secret of Blunt Kid, but that some other benefits may be in order.
“I will write a letter of recommendation to colleges for the first student that reports Blunt Kid. The report could even be filed anonymously,” Dodig said.
Dodig also said that the administration’s investigation of the Blunt Kid’s identity has been hindered by security camera regulations.
“As important as this issue is to the administration, we can’t put cameras in the bathrooms. And it’s extremely aggravating, because we don’t have graffiti anywhere else in the school… just the bathrooms,” Dodig said.
Inklings sought to find the Blunt Kid in order to gain a greater perspective on his motivations, thought process, and overall purpose. Thus, in this search it became necessary to compile a list of all possible suspects and pursue each one individually for interviews. The original five suspects were drawn from a mix of widespread rumors and personal conclusions. Several claims regarding the Blunt Kid’s identity are posted on the bathroom walls alongside Blunt Kid’s graffiti, but not all of those students written on the walls were interviewed.
All suspects were male seniors, as it would seem doubtful that a female student would be able to infiltrate the boys’ bathrooms without generating suspicion. According to several students, such as Will Bitsky ‘12, the probability that Blunt Kid is a Senior is also quite high.
“The Blunt Kid would most likely want to complete his drawings and then graduate before [the administration] catches him. An underclassman would necessarily be running a much higher risk due to being the Blunt Kid for an extended period of time,” Bitsky said.
Friends of suspects and members of the suspects’ social circle were also reached for the purpose of gaining additional information about the nature of the Blunt Kid. As custodian Gerard Watt stated, “no smoker works alone.”
Watt substantiates the leading theory regarding Blunt Kid, which states that there is only one Blunt Kid, but many copycat Blunt Children.
In reality, the Blunt Kid seems to have had such a profound effect on the Staples student body that the copycat effect has taken place. Ranging from “Spliff Kid” to “Blunt Boy” to “Joint Junior,” the emulators’ graffiti is almost just as widespread as Blunt Kid’s.
“Every time the Blunt Kid writes something, there are just as many responses under the same alias but in different handwriting. I do not understand why, if it was just one person, Blunt Kid would write ‘I am gay.’ It simply doesn’t make sense; more than one person is in on this,” Watt said.
All interviewees were granted anonymity, however they all refuted claims that they were the Blunt Kid. The one suspect of the investigation, who will remain unnamed, believes that there is undue attention being placed upon the identity of the Blunt Kid.
“Given the fact that there are so many other forms of graffiti in the bathrooms, it makes no sense that the Blunt Kid gets so much attention. There are still swastikas and hateful comments visible above the urinals, but I don’t see anyone going after those guys. In comparison, ‘Smoke Blunts’ is a rather tame message,” the student said.
However, Dodig disagrees with the argument that the administration is pursuing Blunt Kid with a greater effort than other vandals.
“In the past four years, we’ve caught between three and five bathroom vandals. In particular, the one student that drew the swastikas was caught and his family was billed for a few thousand dollars. We pursue all damage to the building,” Dodig said.
Nonetheless, boys’ soccer coach and prominent blogger Dan Woog thinks that the Blunt Kid’s drawings represent a variety of messages depending on the interpretation of the viewer.
“It’s a pretty blunt message. He sees himself one way, students see it as amusing, and I see it as graffiti on the walls,” Woog said.
Though the second anonymous student suggested that Blunt Kid will never be caught, Woog disagrees.
“I can’t imagine that he won’t be caught unless he tells absolutely no one, which is highly unlikely. Two people can keep a secret only if one of them is dead,” Woog said.
Watt added: “He’ll slip up one day, and when he does, absolutely everyone at Staples will know who it is.”
While various sources wrangle over the identity of the Blunt Kid, another aspect of the Hunt was to narrow down suspects based upon their personalities and social tendencies, and compare them to a psychological profile of a potential vandal– in this case, Blunt Kid.
The Motivations of Blunt Kid
One of Staples’ three school psychologists, who wished to remain anonymous due to the belief that openly interviewing on the subject would breach trust with Staples students, commented on what she thought made the Blunt Kid act the way he does.
“Kids like this, who ‘act out’ so to speak, have a general disregard for authority. Either they think the rules don’t apply to them, or they don’t understand the ramifications of their actions,” the psychologist said.
When asked whether the Blunt Kid was acting in the interests of art or politics, as some graffiti artists have claimed, the psychologist suggested that there was a far more straightforward message.
“Though [the Blunt Kid] realizes, on some level, that it is a criminal act to destroy property, it clearly is not politically motivated. Instead, it’s a more in-your-face statement of ‘I am defying you,’ whether that is the school or its authority figures. Blunt Kid is also likely to be extremely extroverted, as a student who is very behaviorally responsive would be predisposed to lashing out when angry,” the psychologist said.
However, many students, such as Todd Goldstein ’14, believe that the Blunt Kid is continuing his act for entertainment purposes.
“It’s probably for sh*** and giggles,” Goldstein said.
Other students, including Caroline Perry ’12, claim that the Blunt Kid is clamoring for attention.
“He wants to get noticed by whatever means necessary, and when people talk about him it probably gives the Blunt Kid a twisted form of self-importance,” Perry said.
Still, the anonymous psychologist brings forth the notion that the comments surrounding Blunt Kid’s wall postings are partially to blame, as they only make for an environment in which the Blunt Kid continues to produce graffiti.
“I’m not sure if there’s a distinct thought process besides disregarding the rules, but the Blunt Kid is also being egged on by his peers by being responded to on the walls or being talked about. People commit actions to receive rewards; he might enjoy causing a stir among the students and faculty. And because he hasn’t been caught yet, it’s just a continual cycle of positive reinforcement,” the psychologist said.
The Effect on Staples
Putting Blunt Kid’s personal motivations aside, Dodig believes that Blunt Kid’s actions are a detriment to the high school specifically, but to the entire town indirectly.
“The Blunt Kid clearly has no regard for the taxpayers who directly fund the repairs done to the bathrooms or the school custodians who have to work to clean up his drawings. It also reflects badly upon our student body, because students at Staples are, in general, very respectful of others and public property,” Dodig said.
Perry also believes that the content of Blunt Kid’s graffiti is disruptive towards the younger students of Staples.
“The language and drawings are a corrupting influence upon the minds and habits of the underclassmen. The Blunt Kid will be brought to justice,” Perry said.
Nonetheless, Dodig believes the ability of the Blunt Kid to alter the behavior patterns of other students is limited.
“Frankly, it’s just this one idiot doing a job on the bathroom. He alone is besmirching, undeservedly, the reputation of Staples students,” Dodig said.