I was mortified to wake up this morning to the news that a young man in his 20s wearing a bullet proof vest and a gas mask made his way into a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and shot 12 people to death and injured at least 38 (including several children.) There was also a bomb in the theatre and the police found lots of ammunition in his apartment when they evacuated the full complex this morning.
This is just a horrible and needless tragedy. People went to the theatre in hopes of being a part of something special — a cultural moment — and no one would ever have thought that going to see a movie would mean taking your life in your hands.
But from now on this is something people will always be thinking about. This tragedy will change moviegoing. NYC has already beefed up the police presence at screenings, and the Paris premiere has been cancelled. Reverberations will be felt for some time. We movie people already get our bags searched at the big films for cell phones. Now people will have to be searched for weapons, and some theatres will install metal detectors. There are, of course, theatres already with metal detectors and I go to one on Long Island but I usually go there during the day with kids to see kids movies so it has a different feeling.
But the reality is even if there was a metal detector in this theatre this guy would have gotten in because he came in through an emergency exit and wanting to kill people. And he did it with a gun that he did not even need to reload. Reports say that he was standing by his car when he was apprehended.
I feel desperately horrible for all the people injured and those who lost their lives in this unnecessary tragedy. I can’t help but also feel bad for the people associated with the movie who worked their asses off and were on the cusp of having the biggest hit of all time. Whatever happens with the box office on this movie, it will always be marred by this tragedy.
People go to the movies to escape from reality but while many movies portray horrific violence on screen — and some of the people in the theatre at first thought the shooting was part of the movie — on this tragic night what played out in Colorado was worse than what happened onscreen.
This is an incredibly sad day for everyone. Maybe this tragedy will open up a conversation not only about violence in our society but also about the correlation between the violence onscreen and the violence in our culture. While movies don’t cause people to pull the trigger (and all you people who don’t care about gun control have blood on your hands today) the constant barrage of violence has become the norm, and this norm is part of the overall problem.
A shooting in a Movie Theatre – New Yorker (great piece by Anthony Lane)