Some consider good and evil two sides of the same coin, one cannot exist without the other. In the wake of last week’s gruesome Batman shootings in Aurora, Colorado one must take a good look at what would drive someone to commit such a horrific act.
The fact that shooter James Holmes chose The Dark Knight Rises as the film for his spree speaks volumes. The film, after all, is about an ordinary man standing up against impossible odds and becoming a hero. But it is also about villians. Holmes’ actions, like telling victims to “stand up” before shooting them at close range, show the signs of someone that identified with the violence common throughout the films.
More than any other Batman franchise the Christopher Nolan films centered on villains that are not only psychologically unbalanced but also extremely capable of manipulating those around them. Take the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, a criminal psychologist by day and a criminal mastermind by night he preys on the fears of others in order to achieve power. The Joker in The Dark Knight considered himself to be an agent of chaos yet seemed to have planned out all of his attacks well in advance.
Holmes, who was studying for a PhD in neuroscience, seems to fit the composite of each of these villains. This is no way an attempt to undermine the seriousness of the event or the tragedy, just the opposite. Throughout each of Nolan’s films the idea that anyone can be a hero is repeated over and over again. But with more heroes seems to come more villains.
The conversation at the end of Batman Begins sums it up best. “We start carrying semi automatics, they buy automatics, we start wearing Kevlar, they buy armor piercing rounds, and you’re wearing a mask and jumping off rooftops,” explains Jim Gordon. The point is a valid one. In our attempt to help, do we in fact do more harm than good? How much is a hero a prisoner of his own devices?
Anyone with a passing interest in superhero mythology knows those questions well, but this is real life and those victims were real people. So the question we have to ask now is, what can be done?
Do we increase security? According to an article posted by Associated Press News firearm sales have been surging since the shooting. “What they’re saying is: They want to have a chance. They want to have the ability to protect themselves and their families if they are in a situation like what happened in the movie theater,” Dick Rutan, owner of Gunners Den in Arvada, Colo. told the Associated Press on Wednesday. While a gun can equal protection it also increases the chance of an accident if it were to get into the wrong hands or accidently went off, causing more death.
People need to step up to injustice and those willing to commit such atrocities, that much is clear. But they must also find a peaceful means of doing so. Batman, as dark as he is, never actually kills or uses guns. In fact that is one of his defining characteristics- guns killed his parents and he has vowed to never touch one since. Perhaps we should let him be the example he is meant to be, guns never accomplish anything. It has certainly been the topic of debate since the tragedy occurred, as has the discussion of violence in film/television, with supporters and opponents on both sides. Many familiar faces in the industry have voiced their opinions through social media in the passing days but one silent voice has been perhaps the loudest- that of actor Christian Bale who visited Colorado of his own volitaion to pay his respects to those who have perished. In as statement released by Bale, he said, “Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”
Those that have seen The Dark Knight Rises know that anyone can be a hero. The shootings in Colorado proved that, as many sacrificed their lives to save others. Despite all the tragedy and violence in the world that very act, one of pure selflessness proved that there is hope in the world.
The world is full of heroes and villains and while there are no easy answers to these questions, we hope that you will take the time to think about them and come to your own conclusion. To support the victims of the tragedy, please visit GivingFirst.org.