Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Say Hello To My Little Friend

  If anybody needs to talk gun control, Tony Montana is one of them. But, in light of recent events, I figured I'd throw my hand in as well. I'm referring specifically to the movie theater shooting  that occurred in Aurora, Colorado at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. While I didn't know any of the victims or their families, this hit me a little too close for three reasons: 1) Aurora's not too far away from where I live; 2) I am a major Batman fan; 3) I love the movies and the movie theater.
    I think what bothered me most about the incident was that it took place in a movie theater. The movie theater to me is like my home away from home. I have seen so many beautiful movies and met so many amazing characters in the movie theater. I've laughed, I've cried, I've been on the edge of my seat. I saw LOTR Two Towers seven times on the big screen. It's my safe haven when I'm having a crappy week or when I'm stressed out; the one place I think to go that will make me feel better is to the movies. All that changed when some guy decided to murder a bunch of people inside a theater.
    As to the guy, I don't think he's crazy the way some people think he is. I don't think he wasn't crazy like he had voices in his head or he was abused as a kid. I think he knew exactly what he was doing and he obviously planned it out pretty thoroughly. In short, I have serious doubts about his insanity plea. It seems to me that he's overacting trying to get people to believe it. However, having said that, there is the possibility that he was "manic" in the sense of being obsessive. Maybe he was so obsessed with the previous movie that he wanted to act it out. That's an explanation, but in my book, it doesn't make him crazy enough to use an insanity defense. Mental illness doesn't always make someone incompetent or ignorant of what they're doing. In this case, I don't think that he ought to be able to use mental illness as a defense even if mental illness is the explanation for his actions.
    The big issues that came out of this event were gun control and movie censorship. Even after something like this, I don't believe censorship is the answer. It's not Hollywood's responsibility to limit their storytelling because of a few idiots or crazy people that take their stories a little too seriously. It's the individual's responsibility. I may not take Independence Day as proof of extraterrestrial life, but that doesn't mean I should ignore that guy over there who does take it as proof. To offer a comparison, we don't ban the Bible when someone says God told him to kill somebody. (Think about it before you think about berating me in the comments for that one.)
    We as a society have become so out of touch with each other that we allow--yes, allow--this type of thing to happen. We all go around thinking: sure, I have a creepy neighbor or a creepy classmate but it's not MY problem. It's somebody else's problem. It's their problem. You know what I have to say to that: wise up. There are just too damn many of us for us to ignore someone who we think might be dangerous or have a problem because we think that, if we ignore them, they'll just go away. I'm not talking about a witch hunt--that would be entirely counterproductive and probably cause more situations like this than there already are. I'm saying that we have to take it upon ourselves to be responsible citizens--responsible for our fellow humanity, no matter how weird, creepy or dangerous we think they are, and try to get them the help they need. Whether it's just saying hello to someone who feels invisible or whether it's telling the landlord that the person in 6B just walked in with a bunch of rope and gasoline, we have to stop thinking that all of the bad things in the world are somebody else's problem. They're not. They're everybody's problem.
    I didn't want to get into the gun control thing too much because I don't have a whole lot of background on the issue to take sides. Yes, guns are dangerous. On the other hand, people who know how to use them in times of crisis can save lives. However, it seems ridiculous to me that someone can buy all the stuff to stage a miniature Armageddon on the internet. People hide behind their computer screens, once again, thinking it's not their problem if they sell the bullet that killed a kid at a movie somewhere six states over. Tell you what, ammunition wholesale guy: it is your effing problem. Maybe 99.99% of the people you sell to use their weapons for recreational use and all their ammunition ends up in a bunch of beer cans in a field somewhere. But that other, albeit, minor percentage of people you sell to who do use their weapons and their ammunition for violence are your problem too. Even if only in a karmic sense.
    I don't have all the answers. I don't know if the government should impose stricter laws on gun sales or background checks or whatever. I don't know if it would make a difference. What I believe is that when it comes to a gray area like guns and gun control, it comes to each individual as to what the right thing to do is. Sell to the suspicious guy in the trench coat or don't. Tell a teacher or a cop or a doctor or whoever about a person's overzealous ambition to be just like Don Corleone, or keep it to yourself (sidenote: no disrespect whatsoever meant to Brando or Coppola, but the don was a bad dude).
    When something like this happens, we have to stop trying to place blame. Oh, it was his parents' fault or it was the movie's fault, or it was the law's fault that it happened. It could be a result of one, all three, or none of them, but even if all those things went along right as they were supposed to, it's still up to each of us to take the initiative and protect our fellow human beings, whether they are the would-be victims or the would-be perpetrators in such a violent scene. I'm not trying to blame anyone for why this happened, or why I now feel like a rat in a cage when I sit down in a movie theater. I'm not saying anyone could have or should have done anything different. But in the future, we can keep in mind the possibility that if we make it our problem, if we offer up a little more care and compassion towards friends and weirdos alike, we can change how things turn out--hopefully for the better.
TDKR was good--you should see it if you haven't done so yet.

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