I've been following the Reddit feed and the Twitter hash tags and all the other stuff about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, as I hope you have. I'm particularly distraught by this tragedy because it forces me to reevaluate the attitude I have toward violence depicted in art.
I'm for violence in art. The reason I'm for it is because I think it brings up questions about oppression, the role of violence in our society, how we dole out justice in the form of violence, and even what violence is. I also think there is an entertainment value inherent in violent depictions in art. Violence elicits an emotional response. It causes your heart to race. It is a release and kind of a fantasy like revenge and vigilantism; we can't act on those urges, so it's fun to watch Michael Corleone or Bruce Wayne do it for us. But what do we do when a theater full of people watching a violent film about vigilantism gets massacred?
We don't know this James Holmes's motives are yet, but they'll surely be the kind of rambling crap we always get in cases like these. But here's the thing: no matter what he says, this is the most senseless mass murder in my memory. If you kill a whole school because they bullied you, isolated you, or kicked you out, that's crazy and extreme, but it follows a degree of reason. It's indefensible, but it makes sense in a very haunting and real way. If you're a Christian nut job who murders a bunch of diplomats' kids in Scandanavia, you're a nut job, but your insanity followed reason. If you're a Muslim nut job, and you crash planes into one of the greatest symbols of your enemy's accomplishment, I disagree with your tactis, but it kind of makes sense. But who does James Holmes hate? Moviegoers? Does he hate Christopher Nolan? Comic books? The only thing I can think is that some club that didn't want him was seeing the film together. But barring that, what brand of crazy is this?
Anyway, I'm particularly distressed by the whole thing because I love violent movies and movies in general. I love entertainment in general. And now James Holmes dresses up, pretends to be the Joker, and kills a bunch of people just because they also like to be entertained. Not because they're christian, not because they're Muslim, not because they're capitalist technocrats, just because they like movies.
Also, just FYI, I like guns a lot. I like shooting them at flying targets or just random things like pumpkins and bottles. I would never kill an animal. I'm vegan. But I enjoy guns, and I think that stronger gun control laws are necessary.