Last night at about 12:30 AM a heavily armed man (I refuse to have his name in my blog) entered the Century 16 Theatre in Aurora, Colorado, tossed smoke grenades into the thetare, and then opened fire. The cinema was showing the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. In the end 12 people were dead and another 60 were injured.
I do not think anyone could not hear or read of this event and not be horrified. While I have never lost anyone to murder and I cannot claim to know what the families of those who died are going through, my heart goes out to them. I cannot help but feel an express sorrow at such senseless and needless loss of life. While I took a total of twenty hours worth of psychology classes at university, I still cannot comprehend what kind of monster would walk into a theatre and commit wanton murder. What happened last night makes no sense at all to me.
Sadly, mass shootings are hardly unknown. I think everyone remembers the massacre at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. More recently, there was a mass shooting at Eaton Centre in Toronto, Ontario last month. And certainly I don't think anyone can say the Aurora, Colorado Century 16 Movie Theatre massacre is any more or less horrific than any other mass shooting. Still, it does feel much more personal to me. While I did not know any of the victims nor their families nor anyone in the theatre, this particular mass shooting has struck a much deeper chord with me for two basic reasons.
The first is that, as many of you know, I love the cinema. Some of the happiest moments of my life have been spent in a darkened theatre watching the flickering images of a movie I love on the screen. For me, as with many people, the cinema is a place where one can escape to another world, where one can leave his or her problems behind. What is more, it is one of the few shared experiences between strangers left today. You might not know the people sitting in the other rows or even beside you, but for those few hours you are part of a community that is experiencing the same thing. I realise I am probably saying this with a bit of exaggeration, but to me the cinema is sacred. For me the thought of someone walking into a cinema and disrupting it with bloodshed is horror beyond belief. For me the culprit launched an attack on a place that is only equalled by libraries in their importance in my life.
The second reason the Aurora, Colorado Century 16 Movie Theatre massacre has touched me so is the importance of Batman in my life. Batman has been a part of my life for so long that I cannot even remember when I first heard of the character. I suspect I was barely out of diapers when I first saw the 1966-1968 Batman TV series. The Sixties Batman TV show was played for comedy, but it led me to the "Batman" comic books of the time, where Batman was a much more serious character--the Dark Knight that had originally first appeared in 1939. Reading "Batman" comic books made me want to write comic books. Eventually the thought of writing comic books would give way to simply writing. In a sense, then, I owe the fact that I am a writer to Batman. In a way, then, it feels has if the culprit behind the mass shooting at the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, Colorado has tarnished part of my childhood.
Currently, there is some question as to how the massacre will impact the box office of The Dark Knight Rises. I have heard from some people that they will not be going to see it now. I don't know how common this attitude is or if the individuals who do not plan to see the film won't change their mind in a few weeks. That having been said, I plan to see The Dark Knight Rises, as I have planned for the past few years. My thought is that if I change what I would usually do because of this tragedy, then evil has won.
Of course, regardless of how the Century 16 Theatre massacre has impacted me, I realise that it is nothing compared to what the family of the victims are going through right now. Words are not adequate for what happened last night. It was a horrific tragedy that should have never happened. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.