Friday July 20 was supposed to be the peak of the blockbuster movie season with the release of Christopher Nolan’s final chapter in The Dark Knight trilogy. Instead of being a momentous night for movie lovers, it became a black day for all the nation. Tragedy occurred when a gun man opened fire at a midnight showing in Aurora, Colorado. The man was dressed like and identified himself as The Joker. This sad turn of events immediately raised a long debated topic of whether or not the movies are to blame for this madman’s actions.
After such heinous events, it is natural in our human nature to want to place blame somewhere and the multi billion dollar a year movie industry makes for a fairly large target. But is it fair to blame them? The one question I immediately asked myself was, “if The Dark Knight had never been made, would this man still have committed such a vicious crime”? My immediate response was, “probably”. No one will ever know for sure.
I was also quickly reminded of a couple of quotes from various movies. The first was a line from the original Scream. Matthew Lillard’s character at the end of the film says, “movies don’t make psychos. Movies make psychos creative”. When looked at it is a sobering thought. Every film maker wants to be able to inspire. Inspire others to be film makers or better people or to get people to take notice and understand things. The trouble is sometimes they can have a negative inspiration as well. Does this place the blame at the foot of the film maker?
This leads me to the second quote I thought of. It comes from Christopher Nolan’s movie that inspired the gunman, The Dark Knight. When attempting to describe a mad criminal to Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine’s character Alfred, inevitably says that the only explication for some people’s horrible actions is, “Some people just wanna watch the world burn”. I take that to mean there’s no explanation and there’s nothing that can stop people from doing some of the things they do and there may be no one to blame.
Film makers do need to know that when making a film of such style that basically promotes the villain as the star, people will be inspired be it in a good way or bad way. Therefore be prepared for the negative to happen at some point and hope that it doesn’t.
Tracy Lett’s, the director of the upcoming,violent epic, Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey, was recently asked about violence in film and it’s relation to incidents like what happened Friday, had this to say, “Anybody who would point the finger at us, as opposed to the ability to buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition, is out of their goddamn mind”. Lett’s raises a bigger political issue that is for more qualified and political people to debate.
The wonder and joy movies bring, has been felt by all at some point. Almost everyone has had a movie strike a strong feeling in them. For those affected by the events of early Friday morning, the movies may never again be the same. The victims are all that need be remembered in this situation. Not the gunman or his inspiration. Movies affect all who love them, so let’s never stop dreaming or story telling and loving movies just because of the rare actions of some who are affected in a negative way.
Warner Bros. recently announced they will donate a “substantial” amount of opening weekends profits to assist the victims and their families. This is a bold move and a classy one. Warner undoubtedly recognizes the influence movies can have and the role they can play on tragic events.
Everyone loves a good story and that’s what a good movie is. We celebrate the joys and excitement they bring with glamourous awards and highly anticipated debuts. We need not forget the good they can do and need not reject the bad as well.
Let me leave you with this thought. The people of Aurora, Colorado went into that theater Friday morning full of excitement and anticipation. They were fully prepared to be entertained. That’s what movies and the movie going experience should be about. Let it never stop being about that.