You are all no doubt aware of the senseless tragedy that ensued on the opening night of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado: A lone gunman killed 12 and injured at least 58 others during the screening of the film.
What are the repercussions of this tragedy? The usual response to any shooting. There are calls for increased gun control and then an opposite (and equal) reaction from gun rights activists. Politicians express sympathy and vow to make changes, whether or not it’s sincere. Obviously, the families and local community have their lives forever altered because of the actions of one, horrifically ill man.
Perhaps the most devastating impact is the one that is inflicted on the entire American public – the fear that is mongered by attention-grabbing and disaster-loving news outlets that this man was groomed into a psychotic murderer by violent video games, violent movies, violent television, and furthermore, a more apathetic society. Everyday conversations for weeks after the massacre are dominated by discussions of the event, motives of the shooter, sympathy for the victims, and a fear that the entire thing could happen again, and anyone could become a new victim.
The simple fact of the matter is that with this glorification of the perpetrator, the attention given for days and weeks and years after they commit their crime, only serves to encourage the next person like him. A person leaning on the edge of sanity only has to see the amount of attention such actions can gather, and then they see a chance to do something similar, just to be heard. That’s the true crime here – the media creates the next monster, our fear feeds them. It’s not video games and movies – it’s cable news and the desire for nothing but negative announcements. Another culprit – not helping someone you think could be going through depression or has been having suicidal thoughts. People who lose all hope in life become the ones who want to go out with a loud, and often violent, finale. We need to be good friends, family members, and neighbors to recognize signs of mental illness and respectfully/lovingly assist.
Another vicim, thanks to the previously described glorification of the perpetrators of these horrific crimes, is the entire American population. After these events, society itself becomes a victim to irrational fear of death itself. Death is inevitable, and the simple, mathematical (and rational) fact is that 99.9% of us will not be the victim of a deranged killer, much less a massacre in a crowded movie theater.
We shouldn’t change the way we live our lives to “avoid” the chances of being in a situation similar to the incident on July 20, 2012. I have seen and heard many people expressing their newfound fear of theaters and that “they won’t be seeing a movie for a long time” thanks to this horrible, but isolated, incident. In a more specific example, all the negative press and public fear had a negative impact the box office performance of the film – for a reason out of anyone’s grasp.
There’s a fine line between sympathy and sanity. Let’s absolutely keep the victims of this tragedy in our thoughts and prayers, but let’s not boycott this movie, and better yet the industry, over a crazy man. You’re letting him and other cowards like him win in the end.