This post leaves BookWorld, because sometimes the larger world intrudes...
I know it's been several weeks since the Aurora, CO shootings, but sometimes it takes me a while to come up with the right words for certain situations. I'm not vain enough to think that many people care about my opinion on what happened, but as we learned from Rent “The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation.” And in order to attempt to wrap my brain around such a random violent act I've undertaken this act of creation.*
I've gone to the movies twice since it happened, once to see The Dark Knight Rises. I will admit that both times I was hyper-aware of people getting up and leaving the theater, or even just shifting in their seats. Much like when I flew back to New York in October 2001, there was a completely different feeling in the room. An act that we all viewed as normal, or sometimes exciting, had been transformed into something completely alien and vaguely threatening. As we all tried to adjust to the new world created from acts of horrible violence the whole experience took on a more serious and somber tone. It was not something I had ever expected to feel in a movie theatre, the place we all go to escape reality, now suddenly oppressively weighted with it.
And much like flying now comes with a new set of rules, so does going to the movies. Most of the major chains are banning any sort of masks and fake weaponry in theaters, some are even starting bag searches and talks of metal detectors. While I completely understand and support these measures, it does make me a little sad as well.
Some of the happiest times in my adult life have occurred at midnight movie screenings. It always involves a large group of my friends and even family and an even larger groups of total strangers gathering together for a single purpose. Since most midnight screenings involve really geek-centric movies there were always great costumes on display. I once went to a Harry Potter screening where I sat in front of Princess Leia and Indiana Jones, and they were a lot of fun to talk to while we waited excitedly for our movie to start. I almost never engage in small talk with strangers, but somehow all those rules fall away for midnight movie screenings. There's always a sense of camaraderie and shared passions and pure joy at seeing something we've all been waiting for. It's a completely different experience than seeing a movie at any other time during the run – people applaud and cheer, no one texts or talks to their friends – we're all there to be completely transported to a new world. (One of my favorite moments was when an entire theater of Potter fans boo'd a Twilight trailer. Awesome. Then later when that same audience went silent as we watched Severus Snape make the ultimate sacrifice and show us an amazing love story.) I hope that theaters don't decide to take these midnight movies away from us, but, more importantly, I hope people don't stop going to them.
I don't think we should forget what happened in Colorado, but we can't let the actions of one disturbed man ruin one of the few ways we as a community gather together to share in a common interest. And we can't blame the movies, because it's not Christopher Nolan's fault that someone took his art and used it as a backdrop for his violent act. We all need the escape that the movies provide, and we also need the emotional catharsis that art, when done well, can provide for us.
So I will absolutely be there with the rest of my nerdy brethren at the midnight release for Frankenweenie. And The Hobbit. I'll leave behind my Wench-y personality for a few hours and talk to the other fans as we wait in long, cold lines to be transported away to magical worlds full of new and old fictional friends, refusing, as all good heroes do, to let the bad guys win.