The ‘Batman’ Massacre

I grew up in movie theaters. I have had first dates in movie theaters, cried in movie theaters, learned things in movie theaters, reunited with friends after the first year of college in movie theaters. I have seen I don’t know how many midnight premieres in movie theaters. Last night, a 24-year-old PhD student named James Holmes opened fire at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, killing 12 and injuring many more. That Holmes would go to a movie theater to unleash this amount of horror sickens me. It feels like he shot up my living room.

It’s a completely senseless tragedy, one that has shocked our country and will stay with us for years to come.

Shootings and terrorism are always senseless and shocking. People are desperate to understand why someone would do this. What must have happened to a person to lead them to commit something so terrible? Holmes, from what we know of him right now, was young and bright. He had a future ahead of him. Kids who bring guns to school similarly have their whole lives open to possibilities. Why do they do this? Why?

I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m angry. Kids who bring guns to school are typically bullied, pushed into a state of helplessness and anger. Their actions are heinous, but the psychological link can be seen. I can’t see such a link for Holmes. Why did he find it necessary to open fire on a movie theater that was packed with innocent people he didn’t know? Strapped in a bulletproof vest, why did he slaughter innocent strangers?

Movie theaters are my escape. They have always been that to me. When I was 12 years old and my family moved for the second time in two years, I was dreading my first day of school. My mom suggested we all go to a movie, so the whole family (even my dad, who normally won’t go see anything) went to see Spy Kids 3D. It was terrible. But for two hours, I could think about how bad Spy Kids 3D was instead of how much I was dreading trying to make new friends. Movies provide that escapism.

In a post-9/11 world, we accept that security measures at the airport are ten times more rigorous than they used to be. We have learned to be more politically correct, taken greater precautionary measures, and explained to children things that they should have never had to think about until they were older. We accept that this is the world we live in. But post-Batman Massacre? Will we have to walk through metal detectors when we want to escape that world into the darkened comfort of a movie theater seat? Will we be afraid to go to the movies?

I hope not. I cannot imagine such a world. It feels like along with all of these people, our last shred of innocence died this morning. They died for no reason. They were so excited to see a movie that they couldn’t wait for regular daylight hours. They said, “Screw work/school/whatever I have tomorrow morning. Tonight, I’m going to see Batman.”

There should be more people like them, not fewer.

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