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Taking a stand at theater

THERE’S NO way to make sense of something as horrible as the recent  slayings in a movie theater in Aurora.

  The shooter charged with killing and injuring so many early Friday at a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” seems as evil and calculating as possible.

  There’s no way most of us can comprehend the hurt and pain felt by so many there. Initially, it seemed that all we could do was send them all our prayers and heartfelt sympathy.

  By Friday afternoon, I realized there was one other thing we could do: not let the shooter win by letting his isolated insanity change the way we live.

  My anger started bubbling up when all the major TV news outlets blanketed the airwaves with nonstop coverage.

  One of the angles many zoomed in on was whether people would or even should stay away from “Dark Knight” showings at their own local theater.

  The theoretical threat, floated like some sort of ethereal bogeyman, was the possibility of copycat shootings.

  Yes, it makes sense to be safe, but it would burn me good to give this wing nut, or any others who grab a gun to hurt people, that kind of power—especially when the media are already giving them the attention they crave.

For me, letting the ever-so-slight possibility of trouble in our own cineplex keep us from enjoying a film we want to see is losing in a big way. It truly would be letting the shooter—I won’t dignify the man charged by using his name—take more away from us.

   Did that mean those of us in a Friday showing of “Dark Knight Rises” didn’t feel  a touch of trepidation when the lights dimmed and the onscreen explosions started? Sure we did.

  And I’d be lying to say I didn’t check the exit doors a few times during the showing, or that others around me didn’t occasionally look up and around to check the aisles, doors or the front of the theater.

  Yes, we were glad theater managers were taking extra efforts to check outside doors and other security measures.

  But most of the theater-goers I chatted with shared my sentiment of not giving in to needless fear.

One noted that  he never considered canceling his long-made plans to see the film on its opening day.  To do otherwise would let the shooter win, he said.

  This isn’t the first time in recent history that we’ve struggled with thoughts about our safety in public outings.

  It was all too real when the sniper shootings were happening around us hereabouts, and when young girls were being taken in the Lisk–Silva abductions.   Then, it was prudent to change behavior to keep our families safe.

   The 9/11 attacks gave us feelings a little more akin to this weekend’s considerations, with many initially nervous about attending large public events.

  But as time passed, we began to recover from the psychic shock of those attacks and realized that staying home was its own sort of surrender.

  Some might think my take on the effects of the “Dark Knight Rises” shootings stems solely from the fact that I’m a movie reviewer.

  That’s true, but I do that because I love films more than any other art form. I’d be there seeing them even if I weren’t writing about them.

  By today, I’ll probably have seen “Dark Knight Rises” three times, and I may get in another visit or two before it’s gone.

   It may seem a silly way to make a point, but it’s something I can do—and it doesn’t hurt that it’s a really good film.

  Apparently, many agree and weren’t deterred by the specter of copycat shootings. The film’s estimated $160 million weekend box office tops the last Batman film and is only slightly below the $175 million some estimated.

  I’m hoping filmgoers who want to see the film but might have shied away so far will see it as fears fade.

  Give the win to personal liberty and the Batman, not some punk in Colorado.

Rob Hedelt:  540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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