The Dark Knight Weeps

I don't know what to say, but I want to say something.

I was at work yesterday when I nipped quickly onto BBC News and discovered that a gunman had opened fire in a Colorado movie theater during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. It was like being punched in the stomach… later we learned 12 people were dead and dozens more injured.

I sat at my desk and forced myself not to cry as I read the details. Those around me expressed horror too.

Except that this felt different. Why? Two things. The attack took place in a cinema. A cinema, the place of dreams, hopes, wonder and beauty.

Also you know, this was a midnight screening of the new Batman picture. Do you know who goes to a midnight screening of a comic book movie? Geeks. Fandomers. Us, in other words. Friendslist, it was us in that theatre. We all know very well the excitement of a midnight opening. How many of us have done it? Or the queues for Harry Potter midnight openings at bookstores? The jubilation of being first yes, but mostly the quivering excitement of the wait being over. We've been waiting for DKR for years. I'm super-excited and I'm not even in Batman fandom. I'm going to a breakfast screening tomorrow morning.

But those midnight screenings are part of fandom community too. Even in a cinemaful of strangers a person is amongst pals. We're all there because we have to be there now, first, with no more waiting! It's that beautiful feeling of not being the freak in the room, the geek in the room, the oddball in the room because we are all freaks, geeks and oddballs. I don't know exactly who was in that movie theatre, but it was a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises: I can establish some notions. Are we surprised that a blogger was killed? No. Saddened, yes, but not surprised.

This was an assault on us, friends. Whatever the reasons and causes, this was us under fire. I'm not saying that makes us special or any of us able to comment on the event with more authority than anyone else. But if you're wondering why it feels worse than other similar events, that might be why.

*

Movies are my refuge. I love them. They are not a simple escape from the dark bits of life, it's more complex than that, but that world constructed from celluloid and stardust is indescribably important and beautiful to me. The cinema is the cathedral of that world, a place where we fellows in movielove congregate to share the experience.

Christopher Nolan said something similar: "The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me."

That cathedral has been sullied by someone who brought real blood and horror into a place where blood is corn syrup and horror is over by the time the credits roll.

*

I have a great deal to say about the whys/blame/whatever about this, but now isn't the time and my thoughts are not sufficiently processed.

Tomorrow I will go to see The Dark Knight Rises. I will almost certainly not be placed in the same danger as those moviegoers in Aurora, but I will think of them. I'll think of everyone who has been a victim of the violence our society values. I'll think of The Joker and what he represents in our society. I'll remember Heath then. I'll remember every great moment I spent in a cinema: from Che Part One blowing my mind; the joy of The Band Wagon and Cinderella and A Hard Day's Night on a big screen; trying not to try in front of my mum and dad as a child watching The Lion King, laughing myself hoarse during American: The Bill Hicks Story; the sight of Valentino's face 30 feet high during The Son of the Sheik, a thousand such moments and every single time a movie lifted me from the dark pit in which my mind so often found itself.

I will think of those dead and injured as Batman and Bane do battle. And I will try to feel the joy of a new movie experience because that's all I can do. 

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8 Responses to The Dark Knight Weeps

  1. annearchy says:

    Thanks, Clare.

    BTW I loved CHE, Part One, too. Just saw it a couple months ago. Much better than part 2, which kind of dragged.

    • apollarock says:

      Part One is about winning against all odds… Part Two is about losing a lost cause so it was always going to be a bit like that. I’ve read Guevara’s books on the subjects and they are very different in tone.

      I remember seeing them both in the cinema. Part Two is the ONLY TIME I’ve ever seen it where at the end NOBODY moved. Nobody rushed out. Nobody started talking. We all just sat there kind of stunned.

  2. likebunnies says:

    Very beautifully stated. I haven’t said anything about this incident because I know all too well the exhilaration of being there at midnight. Of seeing it first. Of being with your fellow geeks when the movie starts showing and being with people who actually cheer and clap at the good parts and don’t spend their whole time complaining about being dragged to the film by their kids. It’s horrific.

    But still, from my perspective of having a child in high school, school shootings will always terrify me the most. We go to a midnight movie maybe once a year but I send him there every single day. The world can be so horrific.

    • apollarock says:

      There’s something wrong with the world. We’ll probably never be able to stop all Bad Things happening, but we as a society don’t seem much interested in truly working together to minimise them.

      We live in a world, a society, which lauds selfishness, deifies those who would trample on everyone else to climb the greasy pole, a world which values a very narrow group of humans over the others and which praises/values violence in many circumstances, where victims are blamed for the crimes done to them, where mental illness is ignored and/or stigmatised and where a tiny minority of the people have All The Stuff and the rest can go fuck themselves if they’re not too busy being fucked already by the tiny minority.

      To be honest I’m no longer surprised or shocked by things like this, only that they don’t happen more often. Perhaps a testament to humanity’s capacity for suffering AND tolerance.

      This was an attack on us, though… I just got out of seeing The Dark Knight Rises and aside from everything else, it’s incredibly unfair that that audience didn’t get to see to the end. They deserved that, if nothing else.

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