For Batman fans, July 20, 2012 was going to be a special day. Nothing was going to stop us from attending the midnight release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” not even the threat of waking up at 6 a.m. for work the same morning.
Instead of reading about the midnight box office scores the next morning, however, we were sickened to read about a massacre of our fellow fans and Americans while watching “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo. Immediately, a haunting, dark cloud was cast on an otherwise enjoyable night, scarring for life the victims and families of the nauseating act of cold-blooded evil in Theater 9.
The slaying is especially disturbing for all who also attended the midnight release across the U.S. There’s something chilling about the fact that we all shared the same stage leading up to the shooting. The children seen in an amateur video dressed in costume, while fleeing the theater, resembled the children at the theaters we attended. It’s the kind of chilling and inescapable state of surreal that keeps you up at night and jumps in front of your every thought, brandishing its sickening grin.
On the night of July 19, many of us shared the same energy and anticipation for the upcoming film. We were all predicting how it would end. We debated if we should get food before or after. We argued over which of our Batman shirts we were going to wear.
Once in the theater, some of us cracked jokes, and the obnoxiously appetizing smell of popcorn set all of us in the movie mood. Finally, after two hours of staring at a painfully blank screen, the trailers came screeching in and everyone laughed and shouted out one-liners about the upcoming flicks. Then the DC logo appeared on the screen and friends gave each other high fives and fist bumps and cheered.
For two hours and 45 minutes, we would forget our jobs, school, problems, worries and the reality of life, and do so in superhero fashion.
This is where the victims at the Aurora theater and the rest of the country part ways. There is no need to describe the next set of events. We all know what happened next.
Perhaps the most tragic part of this story is it trips and falls into the disturbingly familiar rut of American mass-shootings. The loner, the fancy guns, the college dropout, the missed warning signs, the impromptu candle vigils—it has all become a cancerous part of American culture.
Once the dust has settled and the tragic stories are seared out of our minds, there is no doubt the pro-gun advocates and gun control advocates will join for a one to two week fight. Politicians will debate over this issue as well, trying to get their opposition to say an insensitive thing. Soon it will be freshly pressed in the top ten largest mass shootings, where it will be analyzed, studied and compared and contrasted in the event of another shooting.
If the politicians and bloggers will attempt to push this tragedy into that apathetic rut, then we must to rise up together and pull it out. These victims and every victim of every act of terror deserve better than this.
This guy, who calls himself “The Joker,” wants us to fall back in that rut. He wants America to be fearful of going to the theaters. He wants us to question our right to bear arms.
It’s no surprise he likens himself to the Joker, the archenemy of Batman. The Joker ironically loves Batman, but in a sick and twisted way. He loves him because he loves evil, and he knows Batman is the symbol of good in Gotham.
“You complete me,” The Joker said to Batman in “The Dark Knight.”
It’s ironic that this man is, according to reports, extremely intelligent (he was recently working towards a neuroscience doctorate at the University of Colorado Denver, specializing in the study of the brain), as was the Joker.
“I am not crazy,” the Joker told Batman, “I am just ahead of the curve.” The Joker knew what he was doing, as did this man.
Evil people need the righteous to suffer for them to feel happy. The Joker didn’t have any specific purpose for his evil—he did his evil for the fun of it. Anything caused the righteous to suffer kept him going. As Alfred put it, “some men just want to see the world burn.”
Therefore, he specifically targeted Harvey Dent, aka Gotham’s ‘White Knight,’ in “The Dark Knight.” He thought if he could tear down one of Gotham’s most sincere heroes, the whole city would come down as well.
He was wrong, thanks to Batman, who kept good alive.
Yes, I know—perhaps the Batman analogies are getting a little cheesy and nerdy, and I am aware he is fictional.
His character traits and the lessons in the Batman stories, however, are not.
In this political correct climate, saying “evil” is often frowned upon. The shooter on July 20, however, was an evil, cold-hearted man, and the same goes for every mass shooter. He took something innocent and enjoyable—a movie night—and turned it into a nauseating mess of blood, popcorn and trauma. Just like the real Joker, he is not crazy—he is living a life in which he has taken drastic steps ahead of “the curve.”
As a nation we must rise, face our fears and face evil straight on. We can’t allow ourselves to be afraid of going to the movies or any other public place because of a sick and wicked act. We should stay ahead of the curve of caution and implement new protocols. However, let’s not allow new rules to overtake our freedoms and courage. Excessive control on guns or even banning assault rifles will not solve the problem. There are millions of Americans that own such weapons for protection, hunting and target practice. An argument could be made if someone in the theater was carrying, perhaps it could have been stopped sooner.
I am a strong believer in American’s Constitutional right to bear arms. However, there should be some changes to our gun laws, and they should be in the form of an enhanced background check or mental stability check in tandem with a ban on excessively large magazines. Each time it seems these shooters had many warning signs, and thus, those with knowledge of such people should not be afraid to help them or alert others. It’s better to offend someone by questioning their motives than risk the lives of dozens of innocents and the life of the would-be shooter as well. This should preferably be done by friends and family who know the most about them. An official government examination is worthless if the shooter has nothing in their past.
For those who question the ban on extended magazines, what better way for these shooters to kill more people faster than with 100 extra rounds?
If we sincerely work on the gun problems (magazines and mental checks) and learn how to spot and help these troubled people, perhaps we can stop even just one potential shooter.
In the meantime, let’s focus on the heroes, not the villain, who doesn’t deserve any more attention, and keep Aurora, Colo. in our thoughts and prayers.
The day we forget about the Aurora, Colo. shooting and the previous shootings and terrorist attacks is the day we begin to sink and sear our minds. This cannot fall into the rut of American mass shootings, decaying in a puddle of agony, confusion and unsolved problems.
Let’s pick it up, together, and we will rise.