At a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the theatre's exit door is kicked open. In strides a man in helmet, gas mask and goggles, dressed all in black behind a bulletproof vest, carrying rifle, shotgun and more. He stands in front of the screen, throws a gas grenade, and starts shooting, methodically moving up the aisle, firing on both sides.
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Just like a movie.
People in a theatre next door hear gunfire sounds popping, see holes torn in the wall, smoke issuing forth, and think it's special effects, until they see the blood on people standing, stumbling to escape.
In a Denver suburb in Colorado, Columbine country, twelve are dead, many others close, 38 injured; of them several children, youngest three months, the next oldest six.
What are these youngsters doing at a midnight showing of a dark, ultra-violent spectacle of fear, terror, shooting and killing? They're being entertained. It is PG-13, after all. But they are also very impressionable. Scary things are very scary. They're learning.
They're learning as we all are learning, to be traumatized, to live with war, now endless, to live with violence, now routine, glorified and enshrined in the theatre. Early this morning, in this theatre, the line between the dark knights of our fantasy heroes and the dark nights of our souls that began to blur at Columbine is now forever breached in Aurora.
After Heath Ledger's fabulously disturbed performance as the Joker, his tragedy; now this. What is up with the Dark Knight series that attracts - disturbances?
Unfortunate coincidence, most likely. After all, it's just the movies. Yet I can't help but wonder how long our shooter has been watching, experiencing, violence. Ever since he can remember? How many souls can be raised on movie killing before one pops, and starts acting like - well, just like a movie?