Another shooting has occurred and we are all once again horrified and grief-stricken. Reading the details about the shooting fills me with frustration and anger at such a blatant disregard for human life. There have been many reactions to this event already, including some people choosing not to see the movie at all. I won’t pretend to know what these families and survivors are experiencing right now, nor how they feel about the movie or about other people going out to see this movie as if nothing has happened. My reaction to the events as well as others’ reactions is by no means intended to disrespect or undermine the seriousness of this situation. I am not trying to say that you are wrong for choosing to change your plans for whatever reason. However, I am intentionally choosing to head to the theater as planned. Here’s why:
Skipping out seems like a misdirected response:
I was listening to morning talk radio (something I rarely do) when the news came out and many of the radio personalities were stating their plans to not go see the movie for various reasons. One reason is out of respect for the families of those who were killed or injured. This is perfectly reasonable and completely understandable. I think that people should follow their conscience in this matter according to their proximity to the situation. As much as it saddens me, I can also understand why premieres have been cancelled and the cast and crew have pulled out of promotional appearances.
Another reason given was that it “doesn’t seem right” or that it would be too hard not to think of the tragedy during the course of watching the movie. Thoughts such as “this might have been the last thing they saw before they died.” I can’t guarantee this won’t happen to me as well. But some also stated their reasoning as based on principle since people died during this movie. This is what I personally disagree with since I feel this is a misdirected response. I understand and can respect those reasons, but it’s not the filmmaker’s fault that this happened. The movie itself is coincidental, this could have happened during The Avengers or an obscure indie film. Nolan, Bale and crew were working long and hard on this film way before one disturbed individual decided to perform an act of terror. I personally don’t want to allow my experience of a well-crafted and amazing film to be overshadowed by one person’s malicious act. I feel that that is giving one deviant too much power. We should be respectful of those that lost their lives and supportive of the survivors, but we should not allow evil deeds to take control of our otherwise peaceful lives. Which leads to my next point…
Senseless violence must be confronted:
The perpetrator is in custody and will be brought to justice. The rest of society must now decide how we will interpret and react to these events. Some will respond by reverently memorializing those harmed, others will seek ways to express overwhelming disapproval of this violence, and still others will carelessly go about their lives. I am in the second category.
Now, I know that I’m not the first or the last to draw a connection between the real-world event and the fictional narrative (even the perpetrator seemed to be inspired by comic book villains), but I’m going to go ahead and make the obvious and tragically ironic connection here myself. Batman Begins was about the tension between bringing justice through destruction (Ra’s Al Ghoul) and bringing justice through virtue (Batman). Joey and myself discussed this very issue in depth here on the Corner Booth. Whether or not a superhero should kill will be an ongoing to debate, but what is not in dispute is that superheroes should do something in response to the tyranny of evil.
This was the theme of The Dark Knight, and presumably The Dark Knight Rises also. The Joker (and perhaps also Bane) represent the chaos of evil and terrorism. Batman doesn’t put up with terrorists, and neither should we. This new trilogy highlights the dark and difficult process of decent people standing up to crime and corruption without becoming corrupt themselves. Seeing a movie on opening weekend is a small, trivial thing, but I feel that going to the movies in spite of this terrible act is a way of showing that we won’t allow the flow of our lives be affected by a few disturbed individuals. This leads to my next reason for going:
Rebelling against a broken world:
This was a horrible tragedy, to be sure. The shooting is an unfortunate and extreme example of how our world is terribly fallen and completely depraved. People wonder how to live and go on in light of such a tragedy, and they’re not wrong. We have laws and structure and government to prevent this kind of thing, don’t we?? We have gun regulations, social services, and prevention programs designed to hopefully interrupt these behaviors. In this situation, nothing stopped one person from choosing to do the unspeakable. He obtained a gun, formed a plan, and carried it out. If he can do it, why couldn’t someone else? We’re not really and truly safe, despite our best efforts to convince ourselves that we are. That’s why this event is so disturbing.
But that’s not the end of the story. There is a good God who is in control of everything. That claim will come into question again with this incident, just like it did with 9/11, Katrina, wildfires, etc. But the center does hold if Jesus is at the center. If you believe and dwell only on the dark truths in the above paragraph, I would totally understand why you would respond in fear and anxiety. But we Christians have hope and trust in a better, more powerful person that allows us to sleep at night. My one ticket to a movie is a small rebellion that displays my hope is in something greater. I don’t have to live in fear of death because death has been conquered by my savior. And so, I can live on this earth and enjoy comics, film, and art without being crushed by the depressing reminders of evil. That focus on a greater reality leads me to my last reason…
To be reminded of why these stories captivate us:
Again we face the irony of the situation. We love comic book movies because they inspire us in light of horrific events, events such as a shooting at a midnight showing……of a comic book movie. We feel powerless in these times because life seems so hopeless. We want justice. We want someone outside our broken system, like Batman, to stand up and put a stop to this madness. That’s why we admire superheroes and go to see these movies. The problem is that these heroes are not real and do not exist in a way that would have deterred this shooting from occurring. This creates a problem, but maybe C. S. Lewis can help: “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
For my Christian friends and myself, these fictional stories point us elsewhere. There is a Just One who does and will right all wrongs and fight the crimes of human sin. The tragedy in Colorado makes me want to see Batman fighting injustice all the more so that I can be reminded of a greater reality where death, evil and suffering have already been conquered.