I’m not against violent movies.
In light of the so called “Batman Massacre” in Aurora, Colorado last night I’m sure this is an unpopular stance at the moment. The thing is, movies- even violent ones- are works of fiction. Make-Believe. We go to them because we want to experience the dark thrill of danger, power, fear, EXPLOSIONS! And then we want to go home and eat ice cream with our friends and sleep well afterwards.
Hollywood style drama works on the big screen because it gives us experiences that we may never get in real life. And it only works because we know that reality is, by comparison, a Safe Place. Whatever else the shooter in Aurora was trying to accomplish by walking into a movie theatre with guns blazing, what he did accomplish was making the movie-going experience less thrilling by making reality feel a little bit less safe. The point of every movie experience is that we, the audience, make it out alive.
“Alive” may seem like the wrong choice of words but really there are no right words for what just happened. There are no words that will comfort the people who were there and lived to tell or the families of those who were there and didn’t make it out. There are no words to tell us what the shooter was thinking: no one knows all the facts yet. And there are no words to tell us what the fallout from this will be or who is to blame or how we will change as a result.
Our lives, as so often happens, are now colored by uncertainty. Will we ever feel safe going to the movie theatre again? Will we ever be able to watch “Batman” (and I use the generic term because I believe it will apply to all the movies now) without it being colored by our fear of what might happen to us in real life? Will we become a society of people who are safe but alone at home- living life through a series of digital, virtual interactions?
The only thing that is certain is that this is no way to live. When the lines between movie drama and reality get blurred we want to retreat back to a place where we feel safe: where Other People can’t hurt us. We have precious few social activities that we make time for in our modern life anymore, and when fear forces us away from things like going to the movies we risk losing touch with our humanity. Because lets face it: we’re not meant to be alone. There’s a lot of things we do when we’re alone that we wouldn’t do when other people are watching; actually watching in real life with real-life reactions and real-life feelings. And, yes, this limits us a little bit, but that’s a good thing too: because we need to know where our reality ends. We need to know where the line is between the dark thrill of a violent movie and the dark fear of a movie theatre massacre.
So whatever your plans for the weekend are, don’t stay in. Choose to do something that puts you in touch with reality, whether that is going to see “The Dark Knight Rises” at the movie theatre or just calling home to talk to your folks.
Don’t Stay In.
Your humanity will thank you.