Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Problem with Honoring Aurora's Victims by Not Seeing "The Dark Knight Rises"

By now news of the two-day-old Aurora massacre is hard to miss.

The incident, for the sake of the unaware, consisted of one man (who I won’t even dignify by naming here) crashing a Century 16 theater midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and proceeding to gun down the film’s theretofore-eager attendants. The shooting has been called senseless, unfair, and cruel. All are true. Referring to a group of people who were gathered solely by their esteem for imagination and film-embodied hope, no words truly capture the terror or indignation of such a violating act.

The world was prompt in its response to the murders, though, with millions flooding the internet with every conceivable thought and memorial proposition. Many on Facebook expressed their sorrow and outrage. Many others’ Facebook pages donned varying Bat-ribbon avatars and images in moral support for the lost and left in Colorado. In the multitude of prayers and thoughtful concern, the outpoured beneficence is reassuring.

However, there is one particular kind of response that I am encountering increasingly as news of the Aurora massacre rings in ever-new corners of the globe. A troubling amount of people are declaring their solidarity with the victims of the shooting by refusing to go and see The Dark Knight Rises, seeing this as the appropriate avenue to honor them.

There is a flaw in this logic that must be addressed before the premiere weekend is up. Hopefully this can turn a few gears in a better direction.

You see, what the many people choosing to honorably abstain from seeing The Dark Knight Rises seem to misunderstand are the intentions of Aurora’s victims. These were people who chose to come and celebrate the final Batman film in a very successful and impacting series. These were people who loved the series and movies enough to take part in that insomniac ritual of old. If this were just a run-of-the-mill midday screening of the film, then this argument wouldn’t apply, but it wasn’t just some screening; it was the midnight premiere. The noncommittal and skeptical are rarely among a film’s nocturnal congregation. This was a theater of fans and believers – believers in the Dark Knight Trilogy, in Christopher Nolan’s vision, and in the spirit of hope and perseverance undeniably present in the personage of Batman.

If they themselves believed in the film, chose to spend their money to support The Dark Knight Rises as early as possible, how then are we honoring them by abstaining from seeing it?

Let us not think for a moment that an errant gunman would impact any one of them in their view of the film. Do not misapply the outrage due him to the film itself. I don’t believe the victims did, do, or would have. He has done unutterable damage in this violence, beyond the obvious. By even one of the movie’s potential viewers reneging their support, the terrorist has accomplished what all terrorists strive to accomplish: controlling the free will of others, cowing them into forgoing what they otherwise would enjoy.

By pulling our support for The Dark Knight Rises, no matter how honorable our reasons, we are letting that one man’s misanthropy keep us from in fact doing the best thing we could to honor the victims of the Aurora massacre: supporting the movie in its opening weekend. Just like they did.

So, this weekend, if you haven't yet, I encourage you to rise. Rise against terrorism and hatred. Rise against fear and violence. Rise and make one thing absolutely certain:

No amount of darkness or injustice can kill our passion and hope.

We were dreamers before, and we will be dreamers again.

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