It's all over the news now and the internet. The President has made a special address and showings of The Dark Knight Rises are being cancelled across the country. The talking heads on Fox, CNN, MSNBC and all the rest are foregoing moments of peace and silence in order to find something, anything, to blame. People are scared, angry and in shock about something so senseless and it's hard to just let the answers be something as unexplainable as mental illness, so we're hanging on to every word, waiting to find something other than a 24 year-old man named James E. Holmes to focus our feelings of impotent rage at.
FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt speculates that Holmes was someone with a "dark, Trekkie-like fantasy world" that got the best of him. My extreme left-leaning friends think this is a sign to start banning guns across the board, while my extreme right-leaning friends think if everyone in that packed theater had a concealed weapon, then less lives would have been taken. I've seen conservative Christians blame violence in movies warping our minds and bringing us back to the days where we watched men be torn apart by lions, live and in stereo. I've read about Holmes' parents, reaching out to all the lives their son destroyed, wondering where their little boy went and how this mass murderer took his place. I've even seen the blame land squarely on Twinkies, for clouding our minds with poison that leaves us empty and hollow like a zombie.
Before looking for something to blame, some reason for Holmes' killing spree, I couldn't stop thinking about the victims. They were my people. Film geeks of the highest order, dressed up and excited to be some of the first people in the country to see The Dark Knight Rises. All they wanted from yesterday was to let the lights dim and be transported away into a world where heroes never give up and there's always someone to catch you right before you fall. They went to the safest place on Earth and died there. You see, the theater is my church, films are my gospels and directors are my apostles. Last night, a man desecrated my church (our church) with smoke, violence and bloodshed. And make no mistake, this is going to change how we view movies in public from now on. Whether it be pat downs, metal detectors or just no more midnight screenings: something is going to change. Just like it did after Columbine.
Every time some sick and crazy individual does something horrible that shocks the nation and brings the media together (however briefly) in a shared attack on something, whether it be violent video games, gory movies or controversial music, we come closer to shutting down that church forever. Whenever fear becomes the controller in the decision making process, the heroes get further and further away, and we're left with no one to save you from the fall. All we're left with are the "what if's" and the "we can't"s, any sort of validation for our open-ended fear. For every villain out there, I strongly believe there's a hero, and the more we let the villains make the rules, the more we let our heroes die, disappear and slip away from us. So maybe this time, just this once, we can try a little less hard to find a place to lay all this blame and anger and fear. Maybe this time we can mourn those lost, share in our grief and then look to the sky for signs of heroes.