Following the terrible Aurora shootings last week, my heart goes out to the 12 victims’ families and to all those people badly injured.
As a regular filmgoer, I cannot imagine sitting down with my friends and my popcorn to enjoy one of my favorite entertainment activities, and paying for it with my life.
How dare someone destroy the innocent enjoyment of hundreds of people that night. And how dare someone spark a wider culture of fear about going to movie theaters and about the type of films showing in them.
Not many of us can imagine how psychologically scarred all the innocent survivors of the shooting will be. I just hope they get the help and support they need.
Many of the victims of the AMC shooting showed up in court to see the dyed hair and face of the alleged gunman James Holmes; these people are the ones already bravely facing their tragedy head-on and attempting to make sense of it.
And this bold act by them is important to consider.
When bad things happen, I think you can roll over, be afraid and believe there’s no way out. Or you can stand up, fight for what you believe in and do something about regaining the ground pulled out from under you by a psychotic nobody with a gun.
In other words, one of the possible ways to approach the aftermath of such senseless killings is to take some positive action: unifying action that shows support for those involved.
Although I’ve never personally been shot, I have been badly assaulted and faced with people pointing guns at me in a threatening fashion. I also worked for the police during the awful events of London’s 7/7 terrorist attacks, and I grew up in England during years of almost weekly IRA bombings.
So I can vaguely understand the culture of fear people in Denver, Colorado, and others across the world, are feeling in light of the cancelation of film premieres and heightened security deployed at cinemas.
And the only way to combat this type of mythical fear – where a lone gunman and a tide of media reports spreads the anxious belief of imminent danger in a movie theater – is to follow those who showed up in court and confront it directly.
After all, facing any fear is the way to think differently about it and the way to – eventually – get around it.
The media have, of course, made connections to the fact Holmes was said to have called himself The Joker when he was arrested, and that the shootings took place during a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises."
These are easy headlines to write, easy angles to pin a disgraceful act upon, easy ways to make a story’s dark side stick in the public conscience. Easy ways to turn a 24-year-old, reportedly intelligent but clearly sick scientist, into an all-pervading monster.
But these connections are fueling the culture of fear surrounding the Batman movie itself, building the mythical fear of the lone gunman once again (a fear that runs deep in America) and fostering fear of the physical act of going to see a film.
I’d certainly like to applaud Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ sensitive handling of cancelling premieres and, especially, in not releasing the box office figures from “The Dark Knight Rises” out of respect for the victims. This is good public affairs management.
However, it is quite clear to everyone that it wasn’t Christopher Nolan’s fault this horrible event happened. None of the hundreds of cast and crew who worked on this amazing, poignant, epic finale to the Batman trilogy would ever wish this hurt on anyone. They only wanted to create a movie everyone could enjoy in the safety of their cinema.
So, I think it’s important that film lovers and journalists do two things this coming weekend:
1) Stop punishing the brilliance of “The Dark Knight Rises” with these fearful and negative connections to the shootings that give alleged mass murderer James Holmes the status he does not deserve, and
2) Go see a film at your movie theater to show support and defiance for the victims of this tragedy.
Preferably, go see “The Dark Knight Rises." I will be.