Pauline Kael, I'm glad you missed this.
What perhaps hurts most is the familiarity and innocence of this crime scene. You pick what movie (and Batman is a movie, not a film) you want to see, angst about the ticket purchase online or in line, give yourself enough time to get there, maybe hide the beer in the backpack, buy the popcorn and slide into your seat. Turn off your phone. Tolerate the endless previews. And you let go. You don't look right or left, you stop thinking about what happened today, what was good, what was bad,what you have to do tomorrow and you just switch over to 'incoming'.
Just tell me a story.
Especially in America on a Friday night in the middle of July.
And whatever identity you enter with into the dark, welcome coolness of the movie theater disappears; you simply become a member of the audience. This is why we go to the movies. For that anonymity and that safety. It's the one place parents of teenagers everywhere let go of the worry for at least a few hours because you know where they are and nothing bad will happen. And that's why this horrific assault on the people gathered in Theater #9 in the Century 16 complex in Aurora, Colorado is so painful and a violation of epic proportions.
We sink into those spongy, salty seats with sticky floors to get away, turn off and tune in. Our guards down, we thrill to the chases, the explosions, the punches and narrow escapes, the love, the lust, the morality plays and the lessons learned, the good guys always win and the bad guys get it in the end. The guns and the blood aren't real but we pretend with all our hearts it is. That's the fun and the guilelessness of sitting there in the dark -- give me all you got, I trust you, I'm yours.
That's why we agonize over the long moments when these true innocents -- moviegoers, for God's sake -- realized something terrible was really happening.
That fragile handing over of our guard, our ownership of our day, our judgment and our critical thinking as we sit back and open ourselves to the theater, the screen, the message and the artistry has been violated. That gorgeous trust of I'm coming to sit here while you show me something great has been sundered.
The safety of the movies is over for now. That real violence, craziness, evil and weaponry entered a sweet suburban summer movie early Friday morning is the ultimate reversal of right and wrong. And crushing.