McGinnis: Remembering the victimsWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s no secret that I work at a local movie theater. I was present last Thursday night- slash-Friday morning for our midnight shows of “The Dark Knight Rises.” It was a fun evening. I got to go into theaters and say “Hi” to enthusiastic and joyful fans, ready to see a climax they’d been waiting four years for. It was a great night, and I left full of joy.
Then I, like most of us, woke on Friday to the horrible news out of Aurora, Colo. I watched as the first details started to trickle in. And I waited for the inevitable follow-up where folks would start pointing fingers and assigning blame — way too early for any of it to really be of value.
The primary talking points seem to be divided into two segments. There is the lobby that is saying it’s the movie’s fault. The suspect — who shall go nameless here — apparently claimed he was The Joker to police. Clearly then, Batman in general and “The Dark Knight” in particular are to blame for his crimes.
This is a gross oversimplification. The suspect, if all indications are accurate, is clearly a very disturbed individual — so much so his own mother was reportedly on record as suspecting his guilt. Someone like that certainly does not require a pop culture figure to do horrific things.
This argument also ignores that the basic themes of Batman are in direct opposition to this crime. Batman, the hero and moral compass of the story, has a fervent hatred of guns and passionate desire against the taking of human life. The Joker is depicted as a violent madman, but the hero is always in opposition to him, thwarting him, beating him, refusing to sink to his level.
Then there is the lobby that wants to assign blame to a lack of gun control. This is one of the most feverish debates in our society and one I feel wildly unqualified to participate. I detest guns and have never held one in my life, unless the Nintendo Zapper counts. I wish they didn’t exist. But they do, and we must deal with them. And my own feelings toward them don’t mean that there is no reason a person should be able to own one.
At its core, though, all this debate — whichever side of the issue is being represented — is coming from a good place. Empathy and problem-solving are two of the most basic traits we share as human beings. When something bad happens, there is a part of every one of us that wants to fix it. So we debate and discuss it in an effort to get to the root of the problem.
The sad thing is that life often isn’t that simple. Sometimes there isn’t an easy solution that can be condensed into a quick sound bite or a protest sign. But we always want there to be. So in the wake of tragedy, we latch onto our own cause célèbre and represent it fervently. It makes us feel like we’re accomplishing something, making sense of the tragedy. But often, there isn’t any reason.
And the real sadness comes from the people this early, passionate debate ignores, the very people we should be speaking of so fervently in the days following such an event: the victims.
At this moment, the story should not be so intently set on the madman in Colorado. It should be focused on the people who were killed and many more who were wounded — not to mention all the other people in the theater who will have to live with this event for the rest of their lives. Their suffering should trump all talking points.
By focusing so much on the one who committed this horror, I can’t help but think we minimize the ones he victimized. Eventually, there will be a time and place for such debates. For now, I’d rather keep in mind that real people — not martyrs, not statistics — lost their lives or had theirs changed forever. And my heart, thoughts and words, whatever value they may have, go out to them.
Email Toledo Free Press Star Pop Culture Editor Jeff McGinnis at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.