I went to The Dark Knight Rises yesterday afternoon and I thought it was an incredible ending to Christopher Nolan’s brilliant reboot trilogy of my favorite comic book character Batman. While I was watching the movie however, there was still that dark thought that lurked deep in the recesses of my brain. Some wild-eyed and crazed person busting through the emergency exit toting an armada of guns and shooting up theater.
This stemmed from the news I woke up to Friday morning. A massacre in Aurora, Colorado at a late-night screening of The Dark Knight Rises. A deranged man clad in a bulletproof vest and gas mask came in through an emergency exit of the theater showing the movie. He threw canisters of what was believed to be tear gas then began opening fire on an unsuspecting audience. Many in the theater thought it was part the presentation of a movie full of sensationalistic visuals, action, and violence. What started as an escapist spectacle turned very real very fast as the gunman unloaded rounds of ammunition on the crowd. Dozens were fleeing for the narrow exits in a frenzied panic, many weren’t so lucky. At last report his damage totaled in at least 12 dead and 58 wounded according to CNN. A horrific moment in modern American history. The gunman surrendered reportedly peacefully to authorities after the terror.
Now while I don’t fault the initial news coverage of this tragic event, the additional crime was the amount of media coverage poured into the suspect. His age, his life, and worse yet, his name and his face. Later on that night, his name and mugshot were plastered on every major national news station. We’re a country bred out of violence and national media continues to stir the cauldron and making sure that it stays flowing intravenously into our systems. These killers are usually out to make their mark taking out as many people as they can on their proverbial killing floor, sometimes including themselves in the body count. I’m not about to attempt to crack any codes that can enter the mind of a mass killer/serial killer but I’m betting a lot of them are attempting to make an indelible notch in American history. And thanks to the American media sensationalizing this young man he will now indeed go down in infamy, no doubt busting the door wide open for more mentally troubled individuals teetering on the brink. A social outcast, a delinquent wanting to be remembered for something, anything. A terrifying act committed on the unsuspecting populous will do just fine apparently. I just watched Bowling For Columbine for the first time since 2002, less than two days before the events in Aurora transpired. Amongst the subject matter it showed the disparity in American news coverage versus Canadian news coverage. While Canadian newscasts were much more tepid and showed virtually no violence, American news coverage was much more violence-oriented. Even in neighborhoods and cities where crime/violence was dropping, the news coverage of murders and deaths in those same areas were increasing at a staggering amount. It’s a vicious cycle that is destined to go on forever unfortunately. As Americans we crave our violence apparently and the media is more than willing to feed us. Thus feeding the individualistic ideals: To create news on a grand scale, you create death and violence and chaos on a grand scale.
My thought is don’t give these sociopaths the power of historic infamy if they’re already in custody or dead. By giving them a name and a face you’re creating an even bigger problem, influencing a whole new batch of murderous fiends. If they can get their name and face out there, even their alias and their terrorist-like plots out there, there’s no telling what they’re capable of. There’s no telling what lengths they’ll go to to top the last horrendous act just for a piece of that national news coverage. There will be blood on their hands but at least they’ll be slice of Americana! It’s so ridiculous in scope to even think about since the boulder has been rolling down hill for so long. It may even trigger the reaction, “Well of course they’re going to show his face and say his name, they always do that!” Yes they’ve always done that, which helps fuel why it always happens. But what IF going forward they didn’t do it, or what IF they never did it to begin with?