The last Batman movie that I watched from the opening sequence to the closing credits was Batman starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. It opened in theaters around the July 4th holiday, and we actually went that opening day. Up to that point, my Batman experience was confined to the Ka-Pow! and Bam! flashes on the TV screen whenever Adam West put the hurt on Cesar Romero as the Joker or Burgess Meredith as the Penguin. Violent? Yes, but highly stylized. I didn’t know what to expect from a Batman movie in 1989, but I wanted to be there.
I have seen the subsequent Batman movies in bits and pieces but never in a singular seating and never in the proper scene order. If there was one word I could use to describe the Batman snippets that I have seen, it would be – brooding. Today’s Batman is dark, mysterious and otherworldly. The Batman of my youth was smart, silly, and philanthropic. Hard to believe they are the same character. Either Batman has changed or times have changed. Probably both, and dramatically at that.
After I read about the horrific shooting in Colorado on this morning’s Internet, I remembered the silly Batman and the heart-thumping music that accompanied his every action. I remembered the classic fight scenes, the cheap henchmen costumes, and the red Bat phone in Commissioner Gordon’s office, safely protected by a glass cake lid as if it were a Bundt cake waiting to be served after Sunday services. It was all so innocent, even though Batman and Robin were occasionally lowered into tubs of acid or pools of man-eating crocodiles. It was cool, not scary, and certainly not realistic. In Colorado last night, the danger was real and the scenes scary. Not cool.
Sadly, tragedies like this become not opportunities to learn lessons that may protect us in the future. That may happen later. The immediate aftermath of this or any other senseless tragedy becomes an opportunity to reinforce previously held political opinions. Like the Batman from my TV youth, perhaps we should slow down and think this one through like it’s a riddle from the Omnipotent Riddler. Let’s run it through the Bat Analyzer.
A friend posted the story soon afterwards and decried the lack of effective gun control in our nation. I haven’t seen the counter-posting yet, but the rebuttal is sure to be that this tragedy can be equally used to make the case for more guns and more concealed weapons permits. I can hear the argument, “how many lives could have been spared had a theater-goer been armed and taken the monster down with one bullet?” We might let the blood dry before engaging in those gun law debates.
A reporter on ABC News linked the shooter to the Tea Party, without so much as a shred of evidence or confirmation. That could be one of the shoddiest pieces of journalism I have seen in the past…day? The 24 hour news cycle can shoulder some blame, but who hires and employs a reporter who reports information sourced only by reading Twitter posts and lonely basement bloggers? That reporter gives fuel to those who trust no one except the ones they trust on the basis of shared political outlooks. ABC, fire that guy for one reason – he’s a lousy reporter because he clearly doesn’t know or care what ‘news’ is.
I do not want to take too much focus away from the tragedy; however, one part of the reports did shift my attention from the main event. A three month old and a 6 year old were among the injured. Please explain to me the benefit of bringing a 3 month old and a 6 year old to a midnight movie filled with loud explosions, seat-shaking music, and drunken fans. A 6 year old shouldn’t see the TV edited version of this movie let alone the midnight showing in a dark crowded theater. It is not the parent’s fault that the children were shot. It is their fault that they deemed a midnight showing of Dark Knight Rising to be an appropriate choice for a small child.
That outrage will have to wait. Today, we mourn the dead and the loss of one more layer of innocence in our culture. Today, it is no one’s fault except the deranged shooter. Let keep our anger squarely in his direction and our prayers with the victims and their loved ones.