(art by Dean Trippe/@deantrippe)
There’s nothing you can say at a moment like this that will make it better. I’m doing this mostly for my own benefit, so I can try to get on with my day, but if it serves to brighten anyone else’s day, then great, but I make no apologies for what I say because, as I said, this is for me.
To recap, reports came in around 3:00 AM of a shooting in Aurora, CO at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the final part of the Chris Nolan Batman trilogy. Early estimates had as many as 14 dead and 50 injured (current numbers as of this writing are 12 and 38). The suspect is in custody. Among the dead, aspiring sports newscaster, Jesse Ghawi. Nikki Finke, a entertainment columnist who is putting this in the right perspective, seems to think that this will affect the box office receipts of DKR (note the sarcastic italics used in that last sentence). While looking into the reports on Twitter, I came across the hashtag, “#theatershooting,” and found this tweet:
Don’t know what that URL refers to? Let me help you with that…
And this is the kind of knee-jerk reaction* that prompted this post.
Let’s be clear: Comic books, specifically Batman comic books, are not to blame here. Someone took advantage of a situation where his actions would be noticed and he’d be front page news. Bets on how soon before the newspapers start calling him something like, “The Dark Knight.” I wrote on Facebook that this bothers me so much because these actions will reflect on the character more than the killer (as the above tweet sort of indicates). You have to understand why that bugs me. Batman was a big part of my life growing up. As a child of a broken family (dad and mom apart), I idolized my dad and, to compensate for his absence in my life, my childlike mind made the leap that he must be Batman, out fighting crime. So, I, then, must be Robin…something that one kid at my nursery school learned first hand. This would go on for years and after he died, I got a Batman tattoo on my arm, in the exact spot where he got one of me, days after I was born. So, when Batman looks bad, it makes me think people are talking about my father.
There’s no way to make this right, really. I suggested the idea that if assault rifles like the AK-47 weren’t available to the public, maybe there would have been less casualties. Who knows, right? This guy might have brought a grenade in and killed more than 12. He would have found a way to do this no matter what. I’m just beside myself with maybes.
It had to happen in the same state as Columbine, didn’t it?
The ironic thing is that this is the kind of tragedy that created Batman. Senseless crime.
The crazy thing is that this tragedy will probably have the same effect that Heath Ledger’s death did; it’ll probably lead to more people seeing the movie than less.
One of the writers, Rob Bricken, at Topless Robot wrote this: “There’s nothing you or I can do, no way we can make things better, no way to make sense of such madness; but when you see Dark Knight Rises this weekend, please take a moment to think about the people killed for no reason, and the hundreds of lives impacted by one man’s insanity and evil.” He’s right. What’s done is done. Just like Bruce Wayne, we can’t bring those people back. It’s a hard fact to accept because we all feel we have the ability within us to change this. And we can’t. Which leads me into why I wanted to write this in the first place…
Before I saw this tweet from Dean, I wanted to find something to post or say about Batman that was inspiring. It’s hard with Batman because his life is marked by tragedy and how he deals with that. Once, when I was living in Seattle, I was approached by a co-worker who knew I was involved with comics (this predates my actual freelance career, but I was still working on writing my first comic, The Mercury Chronicles). She said she wanted to get her son into comics and he liked Batman…”What’s a good Batman comic to read?” I told her that was a tough question to answer because, ultimately, you relate to Batman so much quicker than Superman, once you realize you’re human and not an alien from another planet. Then, you have to figure, a kid might look at Bruce’s tragedy and then look at his own life and maybe, juuuuuust maybe, wish for his parents to be dead. I didn’t, even though I associated with Robin more than Batman, but who knows? Let’s not try to mind read here. It was just something I thought she should be aware of. I ended up giving them a copy of Batman: War on Crime by Paul Dini and Alex Ross. They loved it. And why shouldn’t they? It’s about a man who, as a boy, experienced a tragedy no one should experience, and through human initiative, endeavors to make the world a better place. For kids, for adults, for everyone. He wants to make sure that no one goes through what he went through.
I think it’s easy to see the darkness in Batman, the character, but if you look a little harder, you’ll see it’s not darkness. It’s hope. Hope is something that can’t exist in darkness. Hope is something that we all have and we all need. Look, it’d be easy to go back and say, “Well, of course this happened in a suburb of Denver,” but look at how that community rallied together after Columbine. Because of hope. The hope that no child would ever have to fear going to school. Maybe they got it right? Maybe they’ve got a long way to go? I think about New York City and September 11, 2001. How for a week, everyone was on eggshells. People were…nice, pleasant and giving. Not typical of New Yorkers, you know? And yeah, that feeling went away pretty soon and was replaced with fear, but eventually, we got back to zero and reset. Everything went back to what passes for normal. Maybe we’re complacent and things like this need to happen in the grand design of things to shake us from apathy.
Know what the worst thing that could happen is? This becomes an issue of gun control (which, I believe it should be) and less about the victims.
Know what the best thing that could happen is? People start to realize that life is short, too short to carry anger and hate and jealousy and all of the ugly things.
Pray for the victims and the families. Work toward a better tomorrow. In the end, that’s the message of Batman. One man can make a difference.
Imagine if we were more than just one?
*EDIT – The Huffington Post might be the first with the headline, “Jessica Ghawi, Batman Shooting Victim, Escaped Eaton Centre Violence.”
EDIT 2 – Here come the jerking knees!
- Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) blames the shooting on “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs.” (A: No)
- An MSNBC Profiler thinks a “dark, Trekkie” was responisble. (A: Not likely)