Making Sense of a Senseless Tragedy: Aurora, Colorado ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Theater Shootings & Going to the Movies
The news this morning that a tragic event occurred during an Aurora, Co. screening of The Dark Knight Rises gave me pause this morning. According to reports, a lone gunman attempted to hold a theater hostage during the middle of the film. Eventually, as he sprang into action in front of the screen, the gunman (24) gassed and then fired upon the crowd. As of now, reports are that at least 12 people have passed and potentially 2-3x that amount were wounded. This is a sad, senseless and tragic event on all fronts and while I try to refrain from making any social commentary, the mood strikes me regarding a few things about this event.
First, it goes without saying how sad and pathetic this situation is. My heart goes out to those involved and affected. I think of those who were lost in particular, as I recently lost someone very close to me, in a completely different situation but the event was no less heartbreaking for me. When my loved one passed, it was just as shocking as what occurred in Aurora. When you expect people to be able to live their lives freely and they are robbed of the ability to do so, it pains all those involved.
I think of the lives, hopes and dreams of the people who were lost to this event. They will never be able to fulfill what was remaining on their proverbial bucket lists. From kids to adults (I heard some murdered were from 3 months old to 45 years of age based on one report) they can no longer achieve anything. This is painful.
I also think of the shooter. What was his mental state? What was his motivation for doing this? Was it depression, loneliness, isolation? Did he hope to become famous in a weird way (it worked)? Did he have countless screws loose? We tend to side with this latter judgment is seems, but what if it was the former? If he was lonely, heck if you are, please reach out. Get help. Not only are you hurting yourself, but the worst of all results is having something like this occur and hurting others in the process. It is all unnecessary and tragic.
Finally, I wonder why this was done at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Was the person acting out as Bane in some way, trying to mimic mayhem? Does this occurrence make it harder to potentially make violent films? I doubt this point, because these absurd events have happened before and the movies Hollywood puts out don’t seem to change in the end.
I also wonder if one of the last sanctuaries that we have as group goers –the theater – outside of sporting events or music concerts (which both have struggled in recent years), is now going to go away. Is social media and life on the computers hurting us all making us more isolated? Is there a remote connection here? Does an event like this make us want to watch movies more at home – in privacy, on our increasingly powerful TV screens and home theater systems – versus going to see an event film like The Dark Knight Rises on the big screen, in a dark and packed movie house, even in IMAX? Does a tragedy like the Aurora shootings change any of this.
I think it does, little by little. For me, all of the above have been accumulating more and more, pushing me away from one of the great American pastimes. I mean, I guess, the fact that so many movies don’t seem to engage me as much plays a role as well, but at what point does one wonder whether the “risk” of seeing a movie where something might happen versus the comfort of home theaters and having a beer or two, taking a leak in the middle while you pause a movie, all of the above – when does one outweigh the other?
I want the traditional theater experiences to enhance and survive. I feel for the indie art house theater that struggles to stay open (and the countless that have closed down in the last decade). I hope that events like these can be overcome. I hope that the world will straighten itself out, that we won’t always be able to write off something like this as “a wacko going nuts; being at the wrong place or the wrong time; etc.” Share your thoughts on any of the above. I’m interested in hearing what you think. Will you keep going to the movies? Do you feel threatened by the change in society (even airport security and the like, which might make its way to theaters now)? Do tell.