The first movie that I ever waited in line to see at midnight was The Phantom Menace. I've done this many time since and, no matter the quality of the movie, I can remember each and every time that I've done this. They're events, shared with friends. This morning, at least 12 people in Colorado who did the same thing for The Dark Knight Rises are dead because a neuroscience PhD candidate named James Holmes decided to kill them for unknown reasons.
I wasn't going to write anything today because I really can't think of anything to say about these events. I am angry and horrified, like anyone would be, but what else can be added other than reckless speculation or foolhardy political posturing? (And there's plenty of that already.) But then I started reading the Twitter feed of one of the victims, an aspiring journalist named Jessica Ghawi. Her last tweet, in all caps, read "MOVIE DOESN'T START FOR 20 MINUTES." This was in response to someone who dared to accuse her, in jest, of not being at the midnight screening. Most of her timeline is nothing but how she can't wait to see The Dark Knight Rises. At one point she lamented, "Never thought I'd have to coerce a guy into seeing the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises with me." This hit me on even another level.
On Tuesday, right before The Dark Knight Rises started, I was sitting next to a fellow movie writer, Will Leitch, and I'll never forget the look on his face when he turned to me and said, "We are so close now." Just pure joy and excitement. I'm sure mine looked the same way. (Also, we are both in our late 30s.) From Ghawi's Twitter feed, I can't help but think she felt the same. To borrow a line from Devin Faraci at Badass Digest, "These people were our kin, part of the larger family of movie lovers." Or as Matt Singer said at Criticwire, "everyone who cares enough about film to go see a movie at midnight on a weekday -- is part of a community of movie lovers." In other words: Jessica Ghawi was one of us. And now her, and at least 11 others are gone. And in the muck of the conversation that's ahead of us, I just wanted to make sure to point that out.
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. You can contact him directly on Twitter.