Editorial: The Aurora Massacre - Mania.com

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Editorial: The Aurora Massacre

Mania speaks to real life monsters and make-believe heroes.

By Rob Vaux     July 20, 2012

This is not about Batman.

When tragedy strikes, we naturally look for answers, and the simpler the answer, the more readily we want to embrace it. A simple answer means a simple solution, which means we need never worry about senseless nightmares like the massacre in Aurora, Colorado ever again. It’s the Republicans. It’s the Democrats. It’s the President. It’s rock music. It’s gun control. It’s a movie about a vigilante who dresses up as a bat. Get rid of “it” and the problem goes away.

We accept those answers because they’re preferable to reality: that this landed among us without rhyme or reason, and that it could do so again at any time.

Pundits have been careful not to blame the killings on the movie being shown, at least so far. They’ve focused on the lives lost, the killer’s insanity, and the horror of an exciting evening out turning into a bloodbath. But even in the initial reports, we’ve sensed the media’s desire to link the two. The gunman (whose name I will not mention in this article) dressed in a mask and a combat vest like Bane. The shots began during a fight scene. The audience thought it was part of the show at first. Fans have expressed similar worries about Batman becoming a scapegoat for these attacks. “Was the killer one of us?” “Did he have comics in his apartment?” “Did he ever dress as the Joker for Halloween?”  All of them circle around the same easy lie: the movie was to blame for all of this. As the news cycle continues and the talking heads posit easy demons for us to vanquish, that whisper will likely grow louder.

This is not about Batman.

The irony, of course, is that the character all those people came to see speaks profoundly to the horrors they endured. Bruce Wayne watched a man with a gun take everything that mattered to him, and dedicated his life to erasing a wound that can never truly heal. His only rule was the one the Aurora killer cheerfully broke for reasons we will never comprehend – no guns, no killing – and the importance of that rule now echoes in our collective repulsion and sadness. Batman is fiction of course, and what happened in Aurora is all too frighteningly real. But he speaks to us because of horrible realities like this, and he endures because deep down at his core, he knows he will never find the answers he’s looking for… answers we’re all now seeking as feverishly and desperately as he.

Christopher Nolan understood that as few other artists have, which is why his trilogy resonated so deeply with us. He tied Batman’s pain to our own, and to the monsters we can become when we do battle with it. His films sometimes troubled people because, as in life, they offered no easy answers. Salon’s Dark Knight Rises review (posted several days ago) referred to it as an “evil masterpiece,” balancing the critics’ admiration for the filmmaking prowess against his anger at its perceived politics… politics fueled by the critic himself more than Nolan or his team.

This is not about Batman.

Nolan no doubt mourns along with the rest of the world – he is a sensitive and deeply compassionate person, which countless readily available interviews make clear.  As a long-standing admirer of his work, I would plead with him not to question his film or why he made it. He made it in an effort to illustrate our own monstrosities. He made it to remind us how easily we can be governed by fear, and how senseless tragedies can goad us into a self-inflicted abyss. But he also made it to show us how we can transcend those horrors: how we can turn dark deeds into righteous purpose and heed the better angels of our nature when things look their worst. Nolan’s films told us in no uncertain terms how tough that path is: long and painful and full of the messy, horrid complexities that life throws at us seemingly at random. But they also told us that the battle is worth it… that in the end, we can rise above the terrifying injuries created by evil men and the inner demons that they gleefully exploit.

This is not about Batman...  or at least, not the way the pundits want it to be. This is about us, about how we react to acts of darkness, and about whether we succumb to horror and despair, or find a way to become better than we were. Better people, better neighbors, better fathers and mothers and sons and daughters. A better country. A better world. And perhaps – if we struggle and fight and find the strength within ourselves the way those make-believe shadows did on the screen that night – a world where such nightmares happen a little less often.

The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Mania go out to the victims of the Aurora massacre. 


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HudsonTaco 7/20/2012 8:30:54 PM

 One of the few times I agree with you 100% Rob, great editorial. 

I was very saddened to read about this tragedy this morning, the children killed makes me sick as a parent. At the same time this has been painfully obvious the media are looking and reporting much too quickly the "facts" of the shooting. One minute it's 15 people then 12, he was dressed as bane or the joker, he entered during an action scene or during a quiet dialogue scene. It's all about ratings and that is also sad. 

Glad to hear they aren't pulling the movie from theaters as I plan on seeing it Sunday. 

My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/20/2012 8:55:21 PM

I've said it before and on many forums  but it's messed up on how these people that blame forms of media for violence seem to forget that the Christianity and certain other religions have inspired more death and violence and craziness than any form of media ever.  And it's funny - not ha, ha - that nobody ever mentions this when people try to lay the blame on movies, music, and such. It's time we start blaming the individuals and live with the fact that there are just messed up and evil people on Earth and sometimes it's for no reason at all.

MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 7/20/2012 8:57:07 PM

Hudson - it's not necessarily about ratings - it's about what witnesses they talked to. In chaos like that you are likely to get hundreds of different stories or versions of events.

Hookedonavengers2012 7/20/2012 9:30:12 PM

 Very well said! I totally agree!

wish 7/20/2012 9:39:38 PM

It's too easy for disturbed people to aquire deadly weapons.  This makes me hate guns too!  That was my first initial reaction, my anger was directed right at the guns, guns guns guns.  No guns=no shootings.  The only thing I hate more than guns is knowing that we will never ever be rid of them.  Even in Canada this feels like it's close to home, that's because we've all been anticipating the release of a movie and we can all embrace the love and hate for it here together online, we span the globe but we chat on a daily basis.  These were our people, no matter where you are from.  It's just overwhelmingly sad.  We need to keep a better eye on eachother, try to recognize when someone is in pain or suffering to the point where they do something terrible to themselves or others.  I refuse to believe someone could do something like this without someone else thinking something was strange or noticing different behaviour, I'm sure it'll even come out during the aftermath of interviews and stories, people claiming to know that something was coming or that they knew he was disturbed, and so once again ignorance is possibly a factor.  The value of human life seems to be on the decline, what the hell do we do about that?!?!?  It's hard not to lash out in anger when discussing this, it's just hard to imaging that it's even real.

Hookedonavengers2012 7/20/2012 9:44:19 PM

 Mr.Jaw....I think trying to blame anyone but the evil person is wrong...Just as it is wrong to add religion as something to look at as a root moral cause at this time also is wrong.

I believe in personal responsibility and unfortuneatly that is a quality that has all but disapeared in todays world.

He is evil and maybe this is his way of setting up for an insanity plea...nobody knows. But Its his fault and only his, its not his church members fault, nor if he was even remotely a comic fan his fellow fans of whatever he chose to like.

It is a purely evil act that he shares only with other purely evil individuals....that is what the final say will be. Not a by product of any organization but just evil.

Call or hold your kids tightly!


GothicStorm 7/20/2012 9:49:45 PM

 @MrJawbreaking- I agree about the whole witness thing. 

We won't know exactly when and why all this happened until the dust settles. It's the media's job to report the news and I will not fault the media for reporting an inacurate "number" of victims. IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW MANY VICTIMS WERE KILLED. 1 or 100... Even 1 victim is one too many.
As a parent, it's my job to keep my children safe and see they are raised to become decent and intelligent human beings. In order to do so, though, sometimes you have to allow them to make their own decisions. But, no parent should have to EVER decide if their kids should go to a movie theater. Growing up, the theater was always the safe place to go. If they have to beef up security at theaters across the nation (or world) then so be it... But, not even the highest amount of security can stop all the craziness this world has to offer. Evil will always be around...and in the last place we expect. 
Hookedonavengers2012 7/20/2012 9:50:28 PM

 Very well said! I totally agree!

GothicStorm 7/20/2012 9:55:07 PM

 I agree completely, Hooked. 

HudsonTaco 7/20/2012 9:56:25 PM

 Mr.Jaw - my problem is that they report these things as fact and need to wait to get a clearer picture of what happened instead of being the first to report breaking news that isn't true. I was talking to my friend about this this evening and he had heard completely different "facts" about the shooting then I had heard and we both got this stuff from Internet and tv sources. It's all a bit ridiculous. As a non religious person I have to wonder how people can be convinced thar some higher power would let something so senseless occur.

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