Keep Calm and Carry On: Movie Theaters Are Still Sacred

Boiling Point

By this point you couldn’t have avoided it: something terrible happened in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. A masked gunman burst into a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises and fired into the crowd, killing twelve and wounding scores more.

As this is the internet and the modern era of thinking (that is, think less, say more), the webisphere was immediately abuzz with a flourish of articles, tweets, and Facebook posts running the gamut from respectable (condolences to families) to unnecessary (political rhetoric) to stupid (generally, again, politics) and, worst of all, to fear mongering.

It is not enough to report on anything these days, whether it’s box office or a tragic event. No, these things must be milked and trussed up and trotted out, clad in hyperbolic statements and paraded around to get hits. Everything must first be related to the self and then shown to the world. If people still aren’t reading, then scare them. Go too far. Don’t think, react. Well, that’s bullshit.

One of the first pieces to really irk me took this massively horrible event on a grand scale and somehow still managed to blow it out of proportion. Make no mistake – this is a huge event, huge for everyone involved. The aftershocks will be felt for sometime. How could someone ever blow that out of proportion? By writing an article called “You Will Never Feel Safe in a Movie Theater Again.” This piece ran over at MovieLine.com and was published around 17 hours after the event. The whole story had not yet emerged but here we were – movie going is changed forever, because of this one thing.

That is not true and it’s horse shit fear mongering to say so. Luckily there were many sane minds about the event too. While I don’t often agree with the folks at Badass Digest, they wrote what is basically the exact opposite headline: “Go See a Movie in a Theater This Weekend.”

The thing about random, unpredictable, and rare events is that they are random, unpredictable, and rare. Much like how the occasional shark attack scares a few people out of the water momentarily, the shark, like lightning, most likely will not strike again. Things like this are not continuances of patterns, they are generally one-off events. Movie theaters are not now suddenly death traps across the USA. Gunmen are not roaming the hallways. What happened in Colorado is horrible and the person who did it is despicable, but the likelihood of it happening elsewhere is slim. Granted, some times copycat crimes are committed – so be vigilant. Great. But do not live your life in fear.

Your odds of being harmed in a movie theater are astronomically low. Far more likely would be a car accident en route to the theater or slipping on ice in front of it. I can’t fathom how someone could possibly tell you that you’ll never feel safe in a movie theater again. That’s tantamount to saying you should just stay away, because the magic is gone. No.

Not to crib too much from a George Bush speech, but you can’t let assholes win. You can’t let them take things from you. You need to be back in the theater. You need to go back in the water.

While in the immediate aftermath of such an event it is easy to have a kneejerk reaction that has people shouting expletives about this and that and theater companies deciding what their response needs to be, this is wrong. The right response is a sane and level headed one. A researched one. If this event launches a gun control debate, make it an informed one – and keep it off of your movie website.

Within hours, theaters were making the decision to ban CosPlay, the popular habit of attending movies on opening weekend dressed as a character from the film world. This makes some sense in the immediate aftermath, but it is important to remember that of the millions of people who went to see The Dark Knight Rises, only one of them was a murderous son of a bitch. Everyone else just wanted to enjoy a movie. We can’t take away from that enjoyment and ban people from attending in costume or else the shitturd who did this will continue to take from us long after the event.

Likewise, the question immediately came up “What about midnight movies? ” Again, bullshit. This is not a reasoned response. Costumes and midnight movies did not contribute to this – a singular person did this. When someone wants to do bad, they will do bad. It doesn’t matter if it is midnight or noon. Midnight movies will continue to be safe and we must continue to go to them.

From the individual to the corporation to the government, we must all keep calm. We must not have a sudden reaction to “fix” a problem that is over – the perpetrator is in custody. This is not an endemic. This isolated incident is over. No matter what we do now, it will not turn back the tables of time. No matter what we do now, we will never stop a madman from inflicting harm if that’s what he wants to do.

What we can do is keep calm and carry on. We can’t let an incident like this change us for the worse, to strip away our fantasy land of the movies. Going to the movies is safe. We don’t need a dress code, a restricted period of time access, or metal detectors at every door. The world will always have a level of danger, but as long as there is a level headedness about the world, and we as individuals can see through the hyperbolic bullshit, we’ll know that the danger is almost always quiet. There is the occasional and horrifying moment of violence, but when it quiets again, the movie theater is dark, safe, welcoming.

Go forth and be as vigilant as you need, my friends. Do not let a madman or an author scare you out of the movie theater. Much like the ocean, while nasty things exist, you’ll likely continue to enjoy the waters your entire life without incident. Do not live in fear. Do not give in to hysteria. Keep calm and see a movie.

But this is boiling point. Something has to get me mad, right? The asshole who shot up a movie theater. He got me past my boiling point. Anyone who tries to tell you to fear movie theaters gets me past my boiling point. Anyone who tries to use fear and a hysteria to lessen our enjoyment of the world gets me past my boiling point. So yeah, I’m angry about a lot. But more than that, I’m keeping calm. I’m heading to the movies. I’ll continue to enjoy my escape to the fantasy world and you should too. Don’t let the assholes win, ever.

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Robert Fure is many things: horror expert, ruggedly handsome man of the world, witty prose composer, and writer of his own biography page. Beneath the bravado is a scared little boy, ready to grow into an awesome man and make lies about a scared little boy inside of him. Wait a minute...

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