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I find myself conflicted over the way I should report the news about last night's senseless act of violence at the Aurora theater in Denver, Colorado. There is the fact that the shooting at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises is newsworthy, if that word can be used to cover the murder of 12 innocent people and the injuries to nearly three dozen more.
And there is the financial impact that will likely be felt. Inserting the discussion of money into the coverage of this story may feel tasteless, but make no mistake about it: this shooting has the potential to cause ripples that could cost the film industry hundreds of millions of dollars, and by repercussion, cause hundreds of people to lose their jobs. The fallout can be severe, and the immediate reactions by the movie's parent studio, Warner Bros., President Obama and director Christopher Nolan are required, even as families prepare to bury loved ones.
If you're reading this story right now it's likely that you are a deeper movie fan than the average person. I know that I am. I think the horror and revulsion that I'm currently feeling about this act of violence comes partially because of the senseless of it but also because of it striking people who share a passion that I have. I could have been one of them in that midnight screening. It could have been members of my family sitting there waiting for The Dark Knight Rises to start.
I'm angry. I'm sad. I'm scared. And I shouldn't have to feel that way about a movie. No one should.
In his response today to the Aurora tragedy, The Dark Knight Rises director said this:
"I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.
"The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.
"Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
And that's close to how I feel. Nothing that I can say, no words can do something to bring comfort to those people whose lives have been shattered. The parents who are now worried about their kids going to see the new Batman movie are going to feel an icy tentacle in the pit of their stomach. The people at Warner Bros. who have to now make crucial decisions about what material to cut from Dark Knight Rises trailers and marketing materials are having to stomach their own sense of revulsion. The people that made this film now have a depth of emotional turmoil that they shouldn't have to deal with.
Someone walked into a movie theater at a midnight showing of a highly anticipated movie and showed the world how unsafe that place could be. What we're now feeling is the uncomfortable aftermath of it, of knowing that an emotional place of enjoyment, passion and imagination can be fouled by evil. We are not untouchable, and The Dark Knight Rises shooting makes us just as uncomfortable about our world as working in a high skyscraper after September 11, 2001.
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