Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Tragedy

12 killed. 50 injured. Midnight.

"Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting, but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."

Christopher Nolan

I was thinking of the same thing as Nolan earlier today. I can’t remember a time where I ever felt threatened in a movie theater or even thought that violent action was a possibility.  I’ve always thought of the movie theater as a safe place even though you’re in the dark with a bunch of people you don’t know, you trust them for some reason because they’ve come to see what you want to see. I'm an agoraphobe, I being around other people it makes me very uncomfortable especially in public places, but I always felt relaxed in a movie theater. I always felt it was a safe space. And now  I’ll always feel a little uneasy in a movie theater from now on, especially on a midnight showing. It’ll be hard not to think about it. 

The gunman ( I refuse to use his name because he did this for fame) according to USA Today,  “planned his attack well enough to create what is called "a fatal funnel." When people hunker down to avoid bullets, he throws the tear gas to flush them out and shoots them when they do.”

But as always, wherever there are villians there are heroes like 19 year old Jarrell Brooks who despite sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg made sure that a woman and her two children were able to escape the theater.

Dark Knight’s own violence was shocking and horrifying when I saw it four years ago. The Joker’s insistence that he put razors in his mouth, the pencil trick, the smoke bomb in the mouth, it wasn’t a new type of violence, but it was a new type of violence for Batman. It’s impossible to link this trilogy with Michael Keaton and Jim Carrey’s Riddler. Nolan wanted to create a Batman that could exist in the real world and he showed that world’s inherent violence. And of course it got a PG-13 rating. There’s always been the violence versus sex argument and how the MPAA is stringent on sexual acts in films, while violent ones are generally left to lesser offenses. (If you want to know more about it check out This Film Is Not Yet Rated and see the absurd practices of the institution, where people having no qualifications control the one of the largest censorship institutions in America). And the strangest thing about the Dark Knight is that you cheer for the Joker, he’s the most interesting character by far, who didn’t go home and work on their “Why so Serious?” impression? 

The role was iconic, Heath Ledger took that part above and beyond what anyone thought was possible in a superhero movie and many feel that he underwent an internal transformation in his preparation for the role that eventually led to his death. And he apparently inspired a killer. The Dark Knight always prompts Batman up as a “symbol” and it’s easy to forget that The Joker was a symbol for violent anarchy and one man had to take it too far.

However, we need to take a step back and note that killer’s find inspiration in random ass shit. The Columbine shooters really liked Papa Roach, which people freaked out over saying it was why the gunman pulled the trigger. Mark David Chapman left a copy of Catcher in the Rye by John Lennon’s body. John Hinckley wanted to impress Jodie Foster when he shot at Reagan. South Park succinctly pointed out the hypocrisy of blaming the art, when the boy’s write a book that inspires people to kill Sarah Jessica Parker. The Dark Knight didn’t inspire a mass of killers, it inspired one, but anything could’ve inspired him, the inspiration to kill for murderers can come from anywhere because they’re crazy. In light of the murders, violent programming removed from Showtime and USA tonight and Warner Bros’ removes Gangster Squad trailer, which showed characters shooting into a movie theater. TNT however is still airing the Dark Knight. I guess you don’t want to seem insensitive, but I’m not sure how many movies don’t have violence in them even if it is cartoon slapstick, hell Chaplin and Keaton had violence. We can’t pretend that violence doesn’t exist in the movies, it does and it will.

Of course no one is to blame for the 12 deaths except the gunman, a random act of premeditated violence. It’s strange to think that one of the best trilogies of my generation will be mired in violence in Heath’s Death, the threats against the reviewers that didn't like Dark Knight Rises, and now the 12 who lost their lives trying to see a movie they were waiting four year for, one that they had bought pre-show tickets possibly months in advanced to see. It’s hard not to think of all the other things they won’t get to see. They were fans, they were dedicated and they just wanted to see a movie. That’s what that movie was in the end about, it’s one of the few times where everyone is excited about the same thing, there are so many possible venues for entertainment now that to get the collective whole of America excited about one movie, one event is incredible.

You were excited then your friend was excited and he got you more excited and then your other friend got you more excited, and all that excitement built off each other into a fervor. It’s so surreal today because back in February I wrote this explaining how I didn't think the Dark Knight Rises could live up to the hype, “Midnight showings on Fandango are already selling out. Hell, I remember my friends saying that their one wish was not to die before they see it, they were 18 at the time.” (LINK)    

In the end, it was young people doing something together, doing something that young people have always done: go to the movies. They just wanted to see a movie, a good movie, and they got killed. People will attempt to make them a symbol whether it is for “gun control” or “anti-violence” campaigns, but they were just kids, they didn’t have time to find out what they stood for.

The Hollywood Defender

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