This past Friday, a gunman burst into a midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises and shot and killed over a dozen people, wounding close to sixty. As much as rational thinking tells me to separate the incident from the movie showing that night, I can’t. Before the massacre, advanced reviews described the film as grim and mentally punishing. Why would I want to spend my hard earned money on violent, bad vibes superhero movie, especially one with the stink of tragedy to it?
Like many others, I was swept up by The Dark Knight, the previous chapter of Nolan’s reboot. Heath Ledger’s Joker transcended villain clichés to suggest something closer to a god of destruction, a Shiva born out of the American subconscious. So luminous was the performance that people like James Holmes get obsessed with it, the charismatic nihilism of it.
Ten years ago I was adamant that American movies weren’t dark enough. And while I still enjoy dark and violent movies and books, something about the new Batman sequel repels me. The events of this past weekend felt like the snake catching up with its tail, a horrific conflation of our society’s obsessions with violence, escapism, celebrity, guns and hype. I’m sure many very talented people worked incredibly hard to make The Dark Knight Rises, and that it’s a powerful and well-made film. I for one, though, will be leafing through the listings looking for a purer distraction, preferably something full of singing animals.