Jonathan and I are not ones to plan ahead when it comes to what we do on date nights, but last week, like many Americans, we pre-purchased tickets to the Saturday night showing of The Dark Knight Rises. He was more excited than I was—gleefully splurging on IMAX seats and brainstorming babysitter options—but I was also looking forward to our date if not for anything more than some time away from Anna.
I woke up before him on Friday morning so I was the first to read about what took place overnight in Aurora. The news put a pit in my stomach. Mass shootings are always tragic and scary but there was something even more chilling about this one. Maybe it was the fact that I’ve been to Aurora, and have many friends who live in that area. Maybe it’s because the tragedy happened in a movie theatre just like one I’ve been to hundreds of times before and had planned to be at the very next night. Maybe it was because many of the people in that theatre were around my age. Whatever the reason, I found myself glued to the TV and web as we waited for information. On Friday night, I parked myself on the couch to watch the news.
Dateline began reporting information I hadn’t yet heard. Apparently the shooter had dyed his hair red and upon being arrested, told police he was the Joker. Dateline showed a scene from The Dark Knight when Heath Ledger (the Joker) waves a gun around a crowded dinner party. It was a chilling parallel. I decided right then and there, I couldn’t see the latest movie anymore. My reason might sound silly or naive to some, but I’m sure a few of you can relate. The thing is, I just can’t help but believe that reality and fantasy have blurred too much this weekend. We pay good money to watch people act like evil villains, blow up cities and shoot up dinner parties, and then we’re shocked when it happens in real life. We ask, “why would someone do something like this?” when millions and millions of people have paid billions and billions of dollars to watch actors kill people on a big screen.
Of course, I know this is all much more complicated than I’m making it out to be. The answers have to do with everything from gun control laws to entertainment habits to mental health screenings. I will not claim my convictions are anything new or noteworthy. I just know that for me, a pretend movie became a little too real this weekend. That’s why I’m at home watching The Teen Choice Awards and blogging while Jonathan is out watching The Dark Knight Rises.
Clearly I’m still working through some of my entertainment viewing habits.
What about you? Did you see The Dark Knight Rises? Think twice about it? Avoid it like I did, or happily see it on opening day?