I did the crossword puzzle today, went to the movies with friends, and wrote this:
The movie I saw was The Dark Knight Rises. I won’t deny there was a little part of me eying the exits, on the lookout for suspicious behavior, a little extra-jumpy at the (not infrequent) sound of gunfire on the screen. I’m really angry and sad that the conversation about the film, which I thought was very good, has to accommodate the terrible tragedy that happened earlier this week in Colorado. That our enjoyment of the movie had to be so horribly undermined by a murderous asshole with a gun.
At the same time, of course I recognize that that’s the very least of the tragedy. And by calling the gunman a murderous asshole, I’m neither trying to make light of his terrible crime nor suggesting that I don’t have some small amount of…well, not exactly sympathy, but maybe empathy, or understanding, for the very real mental problems he might have, which led him to this horrible act.
But I also don’t want to make him out to be something that he’s not, something that fits into the narrative of the Batman films. Because that’s just feeding into his delusion, and I can’t help but feel that when the media does it — and have they ever — they are in no small degree complicit, or at the very least encouraging to other deranged and violent souls. If your goal is to prevent this sort of thing from happening again, you don’t call the gunman “the Dark Knight Killer.” Better, I think, that you call him a murderous asshole.
Those who are truly complicit, of course, are the gun manufacturers and the NRA and the lobbyists, and moreover the state and federal representatives who have failed to protect anything but the interests of the former three. It’s important to remember that the gunman in Colorado purchased his guns legally, and yet I’m hard-pressed to think of any legal reason why a private citizen would need, or should be allowed, a semi-automatic weapon.
I’m not wholly, across-the-board anti-gun. I’ve fired one myself all of once, on a firing range when I was a Boy Scout, and I’ve never really seen the appeal. But I understand, to some extent, their use for hunting and for self-defense. But a weapon like the one that did most of the killing in Colorado has one purpose — to kill — and because of that we need more, not less, safeguards against it falling into the wrong hands.
I feel like this post has gotten away from me a little bit, more half-formed thoughts than anything else. (Hey, there were some silly superheroes up above!) But it really was impossible to talk about The Dark Knight Rises without talking about what happened in Aurora. In many ways, the film is an indictment of those who would use violence and terror to achieve their ends. It’s a fitting conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy — and that, quite frankly, is the conversation I want to be having.