Saturday, July 21, 2012


    In addition to this blog, I am also the Chicago Examiner's horror movie critic ( so I'm used to evaluating movies with a bend towards the macabre and fantastical. And when a real life horror, such as the one that occurred in Aurora, Colorado at the premiere of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES occurs, it make any fictional monster I critique seem almost quaint by comparison. With what happened yesterday, a critique of this horror show is needed.  And I feel the greater tragedy would be for our nation to stand idly by, wringing our collective hands once again, and never act upon fighting the insanity. Here are six things we can start doing that will help fight against such madness:
The premiere of one of the year’s most anticipated movies should have been only a time for celebration in the world of cinema. Instead, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will now carry with it the taint of this tragedy forever. And even though the shooter called himself “The Joker” the franchise should not be blamed. Nor should any movie with violence or guns. Of course there is too much of such things permeating our entertainments, but a disturbed individual could have been set off by anything.

I’d even argue that Chris Nolan’s Batman movies deplore violence more than most other products coming out of Hollywood these days. The Batman franchise shows the limitations of violence. And there is a very strong morality coursing through all of Nolan’s work, particularly what he’s done with the Dark Knight. Movies did not make James Holmes do what he did. They may have made him think killing is exciting and cool, but it was his disturbed mental condition that caused his actions. And easy accessibility to weaponry that armed his psychosis.

The NRA defends the right to bear arms with a rabidness that is neither normal nor realistic and it’s time to challenge them. Their strident defense of automatic and semi-automatic weaponry for an armed citizenry is outrageous. The NRA needs to be confronted on their continual defense of the all-too easy accessibility to such weaponry and ammunition, and their “From my cold dead hands” reply to any and all suggestions to help curb it. There is a real problem with these weapons in this country and the NRA needs to address it. James Holmes got his hands on an AR-15, an overtly deadly weapon that was once illegal in this country, and the NRA can start by working with the government to ban such weapons that no one needs.
Yesterday, the NRA stated that they would wait to say more about the Aurora tragedy until more facts are known. And the President and the GOP presumed nominee weren’t much better in their words. Neither candidate uttered the word “gun” in their comments. Rather, they read carefully constructed statements to avoid offending the NRA or gun-owning voters. It’s time for both parties to stand up to the NRA, challenge the NRA, and do something about this overtly violent nation we’re living in. No one needs automatic or semi-automatic weapons in the USA. Period. Not. One. Of. Us. Every police force in the nation is against a citizenry having such deadly force. Isn’t it time for the President, our political leaders, and the NRA to back the positions of those who serve and protect us?

And speaking of changing laws, why is the web allowed to traffic in so much illegality? One can easily find illegal drugs, child porn, illegal weaponry, and all kinds of ills – if you know where to look. Holmes knew where to look. And when he wanted to get his weaponry, he bought online. The web made it too easy for him. I’m not against freedom, but I don’t think that kind of access is freedom. Arguably, it’s actually holding our nation hostage. Time for some real laws to be put into effect to control some of the things going on in the Wild West that is the Web.

The economy has forced businesses to cut employees everywhere. Movie theaters too. It’s amazing how scant staffing is at your local Cineplex. Perhaps movie ticket prices have to rise to accommodate better care of patrons but I’d say having more employees there monitoring exits and patrons would be worth the extra cost to ensure a safer experience.

The only reason midnight premieres exist is so movie studios can get another big showing tacked onto their first weekend take. It’s greed, nothing more. But with those late, late shows come a whole host of problems. There is usually only a skeleton crew left to handle crowds that are often unwieldy. I used to love midnight screenings because they were exclusive. But now, I’d do with a little less exclusivity in favor of a more secure movie-going experience.

I hope that those idiotic fans out there that were threatening critics who deigned to pan THE DARK KNIGHT RISES are feeling 10 inches tall this morning. The movie didn’t deserve that notoriety. And how tragic that it now has the Aurora, Colorado albatross around its neck too. I hope these events don’t detour people from going to the Cineplexes. But what I do hope even more is that we start to find solutions to this incredibly angry and violent country we’re living in. We can start by trying any of these six solutions.


  1. Very well said. And what an immeasurable human tragedy.

    It is also terribly sad that a movie blog focusing on the art of film must address such issues.

    But perhaps it is indeed about time so many of your points must be said. I'm thinking most about security, and the midnight premieres that I have often attended. The staffing levels are extremely minimal and security seems almost non-existent. One could almost wander in and out of the theater during the show unnoticed at that very late hour. Chilling, in light of the tragedy yesterday. I'll think twice before attending another show that late and putting myself in such a vulnerable position again.

    And I definitely don't blame Batman for that.

  2. Thanks for posting, Fan! As always. Yes, those midnight showings can get a bit dicey. Sometimes they don't clean up the dirtied theaters until the crew is in the next morning either. Another, albeit smaller reason, they're a bad idea. I think the midnight screenings may go away due to the Aurora tragedy. And I hope that we can agree, whether we're on the left or right politically, that semi-automatic weapons and automatic weapons are not needed in the populace. Especially given the tragedy that just saw them so horribly abused.

  3. Yes, the semi/automatic weapon issue bears another change too. If anyone can explain to me a legitimate reason for owning such implements, I'd love to hear it. From what I've seen of people who do own them, the mere thrill of handling and firing such a weapon of potential mass destruction is not reason enough.

  4. I don't disagree that there should be some sanity in the gun laws and that the NRA should be confronted (again) and that our politicians should have backbones. I also wish there was something that could be done to reduce violence in our society. The daily Chicago Tribune front page has the previous night's tote of how many shootings and killings like it was a baseball box score ... but, none of this would have mattered. This tragedy was going to happen regardless.

    The killer prepared for weeks and carried out his plan with ruthless efficiency.
    Having additional, minimally trained, minimum wage security would not have prevented the killer that night. He would have planned for them and overcome the obstacle.
    Stricter gun laws would not have prevented this tragedy, as he would have found other ways to kill ... don't forget he had his house rigged with explosives. If he had been a suicide bomber. He would have killed hundreds.
    Not having midnight showings prevented this, as he could just as easily have shown up the next day.