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'The Dark Knight Rises' shooting: When shared enthusiasm becomes a weapon

By on July 20, 2012

Alyssa Rosenberg reflects on the shooting in Colorado:

Mostly what I feel is this: Midnight screenings are big, hyped, advertiser-driven events that have become a source of new information to feed the Hollywood data beast, but indicating how motivated audiences are to see a movie. But they’re also a product of genuine enthusiasm and an expression of collective joy. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has meant a lot to an enormous number of filmgoers. And as someone who writes about movies, and who cares about the big, flawed thing we call fandom, I’m saddened by someone turning that shared enthusiasm into a weapon. And even if this tragedy hadn’t happened at the premiere of one of a dwindling number of genuinely mass cultural events, I hate the idea of using an audience’s suspension of disbelief, their openness to and absorption in the spectacle unfolding before them, as cover—the gunman reportedly started shooting during a sequence involving gunfire, meaning the audience was slower to react. We are vulnerable when we go to the movies, open to fear, and love, and disgust, and rapture, surrendering our brains and hearts to someone else’s vision of the world. We don’t expect to surrender our bodies, too.

The Tampa Bay Times‘ Eric Deggans, who I bumped into at the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, “hope(s) we find a way to pay tribute to the victims and condemn their murderer without turning away from the film he used to turn our pop culture celebration against us. Because doing otherwise would just give him more power over us all.”

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