Max wore his Captain America T-Shirt to preschool today. Buckled into his carseat, his little face peered out the window, washed in the morning sunshine. I had the news on the radio. I had that strange compulsion that all parents have, the need to drink in any breaking news about children being hurt. Max was calling out “twain twacks!” and “Look Mommy! A cement mixer!” from the backseat, and CNN was on so quietly that I was positive he couldn’t hear it. Until he shouted “BATMAN!! That lady said Batman!!” And I turned it off.
I am furious about the Aurora shootings. Really.fucking.mad. And not just at the shooter….of course I’m furious with the shooter. But do you know who else I’m mad at?
You. (And Obama and Romney and quite a few other people, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Just know I’m equal opportunity pissed off right now.)
There are scenes in “The Dark Knight Rises” that show crazy lunatics terrorizing public places, and hurting people with tear gas and weapons. That is considered entertainment. Death is considered entertainment. People pay $9.50 for a movie ticket, then stand in line for hours waiting to be ushered in to a midnight viewing so that they can be the first to see a movie about bad guys terrorizing people. A crazy 24 year old lunatic just opened fire on a theater of innocent people, and he mirrored what they had payed good money to watch.
Now don’t get me wrong…
I am not blaming them. Going to the movies is an American pastime. It’s a chance to escape the reality of our lives, and indulge in things that stretch our minds and challenge our psyches. In our country, violence is often mistaken for art. The entertainment industry makes millions on our need to be repulsed, to be scared, to be tested. I know that James Holmes, the alleged gunman, probably had a myriad of things brewing inside of him, each joining together to create the perfect storm that rained down on Theater 9 last night.
Those teenagers on their first date, those parents who brought their children so that they could feel like normal grown-ups again, the true Batman fans who loved the thrill of feeling like a superhero for 2 hours and 10 minutes….this was not their fault.
When do we as Americans, say “Enough”?
Enough with the violent movies. Death is not entertainment. Enough with allowing our young people to play video games where they can shoot someone’s head off. Enough with gun laws that allow anyone to buy an AR-15 assault rifle legally from a sporting goods store. (Hello, hunters? Do you shoot deer with these?)
I know, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Violent movies don’t encourage violence, crazy people are drawn to violence anyway.
But it doesn’t help. Why are we making it easier for lunatics to terrorize us? Yes, this young man would’ve found a way to hurt people if he wasn’t pretending to be The Joker. But isn’t it fair to say that when our society idolizes The Joker and makes a huge multi-million dollar production out of a crazy lunatic who goes into public places and kills people….well, that maybe a crazy lunatic would think it was a good idea to go into a public place and kill people? Someone with a few screws loose might actually think that pretending to be The Joker would make him famous. Would thrill him. Would get him endless attention. Because that’s what we do to the real Joker.
What is art? What is entertainment? Where do you draw the line for your family?
As Americans, we have to continue living free. We are free to go to the movies. We are free to dress our children up like the Joker for Halloween.
But let me challenge you. Instead of lamenting on Twitter about how sad you are, stop giving money to the entertainment industry that says that violence is sexy. Don’t post your condolence ribbons on FaceBook, and then take your kids to go see the movie. Don’t speak your condolences to the Nation instead of making a campaign appearance, and then create laws that allow people to buy assault weapons. Obama and Romney, don’t give us platitudes and then find something more important to legislate. Nothing is more important than our safety. Stop saying how sad you are. Stop boo-hooing about how lost our country is, and DO SOMETHING about it.
James Holmes is 24. He was raised in a generation of video gamers. Of Columbine. Of movies that were increasingly gory and scary and violent. Millions of other children were raised that way, and they didn’t become psycho movie theater killers, but isn’t one enough?
After my friend Mike was murdered, 19 years ago, I decided that I would never pay money to willingly watch violence again. Put your money where your mouth is. You can’t be offended by violence and then contribute to it’s glamourization. You don’t want assault weapons in the movie theater with your kids? Then vote. You want better mental health care for our friends and neighbors who exist on the fringes of our society? Fight for it. You want people to realize that guns and killing are serious business? Then stop sitting on the couch in your pajamas and blowing peoples heads off on your living room television.
I don’t want to hear your empty condolences. Do something. Superheroes are people like you and I, who say ENOUGH. Enough. I’m telling the entertainment industry that violence is their fault. I’m telling the lawmakers that assault weapons in the hands of our neighbors is their fault. As you go into this beautiful summer weekend, think about this…..the best thing you can do to honor the victims of the Aurora Massacre, is to choose to bring safe, kind things into your life. Put your money where your mouth is. Real superheroes make change. Batman isn’t real. Our friends in Aurora are.