The unfortunately named “Dark Knight shooting” is unfair on just about every level.
To clarify, this is a shocking and tragic incident, and no one is worse off than those who were killed or injured, and their families. No one can imagine their pain, and no one should forget that pain trumps any kind of anger or irritation felt by anyone else.
But there are other issues at play here, and things that need to be said.
Gun violence and the laws that dictate firearm control will be at the forefront of a heated discussion, again.
But people need to be aware of the unfair association that will plague this movie — and maybe the Batman character — for years to come.
By committing this atrocity during one of the biggest film openings in years and insofar that the story centres on violence, gunman James Holmes has created a link that will probably never break.
Holmes dressed up in black riot gear, flung gas canisters into a theatre and opened fire on innocent people. On top of that, he allegedly identified himself to police as the Joker. “He looked like an assassin ready to go to war,” said Jordan Crofter, one moviegoer who escaped from the rampage.
To top it off, Holmes went so far as to booby-trap his apartment with explosives. It’s ridiculous, and seems like something that only could have happened in fiction.
There will be an inevitable rush to blame the movie or the characters for what happened. But nothing can really explain why people commit mass murder. Certainly not something so specific as this.
Fiction doesn’t create someone like James Holmes. It’s the other way around. Writers draw on what they see and hear every day to create. Often, that’s twisted and dark, as that’s human nature. People like Holmes influence fictional characters through their actions more than the other way around.
But because of what happened, some moviegoers will think twice about seeing the film. Parents might not let their kids go — or reconsider letting them read Batman comics at all.
Just like Marilyn Manson with the Columbine shootings or Ozzy’s Suicide Solution debacle before it, people will make that association. They’ll say he was driven there by what he saw in earlier Batman films, or that the comics twisted him.
And because of that, the film is marred by tragedy. Less people will go — some out of fear, some superstition, and others because Warner now can’t market the film in an aggressive way.
That is unfair.
A black cloud now hangs above a character that’s been loved by millions of people for decades. That’s unfair to the character, its creators, and everyone that worked so hard on this film.
This should have been a triumph. Instead, it’s a complete tragedy.
And to those who would blame the film or comics for driving Holmes to this point — check the source material. Batman wouldn’t condone this kind of senseless violence, and that’s really the heart of the character. That isn’t a callous observation, as this is a character borne of gun violence. Yet he only protects the innocent. He won’t take a life.
So place the blame where it belongs: on one sick, twisted person. Not on a character.