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.