Using Fear to Prey on the Fearful

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. 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.”

Christopher Nolan released this statement earlier yesterday about the “Aurora Theater Shooting,” a phrase that will come to describe the events that unfolded at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado – and will ultimately ruin anything with the words “Aurora” and “Batman” in the same breath. In a neighborhood we grew up in, in a movie theater we have frequented since we were getting rides from our parents to sneak into movies they would not approve of, our city’s safety and well-being were violated by a gunman who shot 71 people, killing 12, in a pre-meditated act of cruelty in Theater 9.

That night, the Hush Comics (Adrian, Panama, Evan, Sara, Robert, Alyssa, and myself) family were excitedly awaiting the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. We had decided on the Arapahoe Crossings Chinese Mann theater, choosing it over Century 16 because Fandango would not allow me to buy tickets for Century. The reality is that we were very close to going to that theater and it is a happenstance that we didn’t go that I am very grateful for. Unfortunately, we all had friends in the theater and many of them will be scarred for life, physically and emotionally.

People inside and outside of Aurora always joke that Century 16 is and always has been the “ghetto” theater. Living in a heavily populated black community, those jokes are always thrown around. We said it when my parents had their catalytic converter stolen from under their 4Runner in broad daylight a few years back. We definitely said it eight years ago when I, a scrawny 16 year-old at the time, was stabbed and robbed of my car after a midnight showing of Alien vs. Predator by a group of desperate kids. But this. This was much worse. This hit so close to home. I think what makes me feel the sickest about it is that it wasn’t just a group of desperate kids, nor a rise of testosterone. This was a planned attack on a movie theater full of young people. This coward walked into a dark room, trapped and killed defenseless members of our community while wearing full ballistics armor. A 24 year-old PhD neuroscientist, James Holmes goaded police officers with his master plans as if he were Jonathan Crane. Oh, and by the way, asshole, the Joker has green hair.

To add insult to injury, the response I get from everybody is, “well yeah, it’s Aurora.” This kind of thing should never happen in Aurora. Or anywhere. When I went places today, it was business as usual. No empathetic looks, no common courtesy; it’s like the whole world has been numbed to tragic violence. There needs to be more to this than Facebook statuses and news coverage. There must be real substance in our reaction as a society, not just a gilded excuse to push gun control and political agendas.

In time, our wounds will heal. Just as New York City has, Aurora will become hardened from the scars left. After I was robbed, when my sense of security was violated, my parents forbid me to go back. Understandable from their point of view, but I needed to face my demons. If I allowed my demons to keep me from feeling safe in my own hometown, how much longer would I go on running from things that scare me? It was very similar to taking the same route home from school as a kid, even if it means the school bully was waiting for me every day. To sum it up, I will not allow anybody to make me feel weak, and I implore the city of Aurora to stand behind this landmark theater, instead of allowing it to wither into a frightening reminder of that night.

I am pretty sure now that, although a superior movie, The Dark Knight Rises will not outsell The Avengers. I can only predict that somebody will trick the ignorant into believing that Batman somehow caused this massacre (much like the way he is accused of causing the sociopaths of Gotham to exist in the comics). I also would like to point out that, at the time of writing, I have not seen any Marvel social media that has raised any awareness of the situation, losing my money and support for quite a while. DC Comics and Warner Bros., however, have been very understanding in the matter, canceling shows, supporting blood drives, as well as showing an overwhelming amount of support from writers, artists and publishers through various social media outlets. What we should take this as is a wake-up call. We have been fooling ourselves, thinking that we can disappear into a digital world, in effect disconnecting ourselves from our community with this bullshit “not my problem” mentality and expect those in power to take care of us.

I will take it one step further to infer that from the ashes those bullets laid at our feet to say that we need a Batman to rise from the pit of despair we find ourselves in. We cannot let Aurora become Gotham City. To give in to the fear is to stop believing in Batman.

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