Like so many other people who woke up to the horrible news about the shooting in Aurora, CO Friday morning, I have been trying to put my thoughts together. I don’t pretend to have any deep insights here, but want to get these thoughts out of my head just the same.
Going to the movies has always been my escape, my immediate “go to” whenever I am feeling down or bored or happy. It’s my gut reaction to anything in life – you go to the movies. There is something so visceral for me about sitting in a dark theater, surrounded by strangers who are all there for the same purpose. It’s that momentary creation of a fleeting community that makes the act so special.
Anyone who has waited in line for hours to see a movie at midnight on opening night knows what I’m talking about. You buy your tickets days, even weeks in advance. You plan with your friends. You figure out snacks. The days leading up to that night are heightened because you know you are going to experience something very very special. And as you wait in line, you meet other people who just as excited as you are.
For those of use who do get really excited and invested in movies or television shows, finding these other soul companions is a blessing. When I tell someone that I saw every single Lord of the Rings movie at the opening midnight show, I tend to get a rather strange look in response, a sort of “that’s nice” combined with “I must flee from this person’s presence.” But when I think about seeing The Two Towers, the movie is forever combined with my time waiting in line at the 68th Street Loews: my friends and I got there at 6 pm and took turns in line; we went to dinner in groups; we became friendly with the people behind us and when we found out that they were going to one of their friend’s apartments to watch the new Buffy, the Buffy fan in our group went along with them and had a blast. In New York, you never go to a stranger’s house – but these people weren’t really strangers. Not for that night.
When I stood in line for hours to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I got into a conversation with the people near me. They were dressed up for the occasion – robes, wands, glasses, fake scars – and had even printed up S.P.E.W stickers in protest because the movie was cutting out that plotline. They gave me my very own S.P.E.W sticker which I had stuck on my wallet for several years afterwards.
So to think that someone would decide that this moment when fans who had waited months and months for this film, who had probably talked about the movie to anyone whether the other person cared or not, who had stood in line for hours to get the best seats…that someone who decide to use this moment in such a foul and unthinkable way is beyond me.
At times like this we need to focus on the victims. And here it is too easy to do so. To focus on all the people who only wanted to see Batman but whose lives were so inextricably changed. Or ended. These are people that I can understand. These are people that I could have known. These are people that I could have been. And my heart goes out to their families.
I did go to see The Dark Knight Rises early Saturday morning. I stood in line at 8 am with all the other people who chose to wake up so early on a weekend just to see a movie. No one talked about what had happened in Colorado, but there was a slightly odd feel in the air. We all stood together waiting for the doors to open and when they did, no one pushed, no one shoved. I smiled at the person near me, almost reassuring them that I’m one of the good ones and hoped that their return smile meant the same thing.
And once we were settled and the movie started, we all fell silent and formed that perfect temporary community, in spite of it all.
There’s a lot of theories out there about what happened. So many people trying to make sense of it or trying to figure out how to deal. As with any tragedy – you can’t and you will. But one of the commentaries that spoke most to me was Kevin Smith’s show Spoilers on Hulu. He vocalized so much of what I have been feeling, making me feel less alone in these thoughts.
This is worth watching.