In light of this morning’s tragic events in Aurora, Colorado, A Penny in the Well will not be posting a review today. I do, however, offer some commentary on what happened.
I attended a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” last night, as record numbers did across the nation today. I woke this morning after four hours of sleep because of my late night activity to learn of the horrors that occurred at the Century 16 in Aurora. It was a jolt that brought me immediately back to the Columbine massacre that occurred 13 years ago. At that time, I was living in Colorado and working as a manager of a movie theater. There are almost too many coincidental connections there for me process it.
I won’t pretend to imagine everything that would drive a person to commit such a selfish and atrocious act. I also won’t pretend that it is unrelated to a compulsion to inflict pain for the pleasure of it. I have always felt that even the most idealistically driven acts of terrorism would not be possible without a great compulsion by the attacker to derive pleasure from destruction.
Over the next week or so, we will all be subjected to theories reported by the news media hypothesizing just what drove this psychotic to enact such a crime. The truth is his reasons don’t matter. What he did was victimize a semi-captive group of people who were only trying to have a good time with their lives. The murderer’s acts were performed with malice towards people who had done nothing to deserve the amount of rage he exhibited. The killer turned a place that was safe and fun into a place that we will now all approach with at least a modicum of fear and trepidation.
The movies are a place we all go to escape the terrors of the world, a place where we can witness a world in which good generally wins out in the end. The truth is no hero can prevail over the acts that were committed in that movie theater, because no reason the killer may have can make sense of it for the victims; who include not just the growing number of casualties, but also all of us.
It is unfortunate, and surely calculated, that these events should have occurred during a movie like “The Dark Knight Rises”. The killer’s actions capitalized on the fact that this is one of the most anticipated movies of all time. He also took advantage of the content of the film, which deals with a Batman villain that operates on a level similar to the actions of this killer. I was never a big fan of the Bane character in the Batman comic book, because he was essentially just a bully. In his original story line, he picked a fight with Batman merely because he could. The Batman writers invented him essentially to remove Bruce Wayne from the mantle of the Bat and see how fans reacted. Wayne eventually came back, but Bane was essentially just a goon, and that’s exactly what this killer is. I know I could look up his name, but I don’t want to.
The character of Bane is a reflection of the world we currently live in. He was born out of this environment of hate that seems to grow in these divisive times. As incidents of violence grew in this country with more senseless crime growing out of people’s hate, Bane became an inevitable a super villain. Batman, as a non-super powered costumed hero was always the most obvious choice for a Bane nemesis. Batman’s lack of super powers echoed our own powerlessness against such predators. It saddens me that this real life villain was tuned into these themes enough to take advantage of them.
And so, it is no longer safe for us to go to school. It is no longer safe to go to a fast food restaurant. It is no longer safe to go to a public pool. It is no longer safe for us to drive on the freeway. Now, it is no longer safe for us to go to the movies. The reassuring thing to say about this is that we shouldn’t let these fears guide us, because then these terrorists win. The truth is the only time these jerks don’t win is when their plans never come to fruition. Any time someone dies at some monster’s whim, the monster wins.
That’s not to say that we should let such actions guide our own choices in life. We should still go to the movies. We should certainly go see “The Dark Knight Rises”, if that’s the movie we want to see. Perhaps we should do so with more vigilance than we once did. That’s the best way to ensure the monsters won’t win.