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Movie Theaters As Crime Scenes

The verb “to shoot” is used in the profession of making movies to refer to the recording process. Some have taken the term literally.

Since our world is flawed, its occupants sometimes resort to violence in order to profess or fix a problem. This is how bar brawls, divorce, and even wars happen. Violence (physical or verbal) is a break down in communication, an overflow of emotion, a reactionary response in order to demonstrate the intensity of the feeling one or more parties are experiencing.

For most people, a calming word, counseling, or even simply self-restraint makes us realize throwing an adult-sized Preschool temper-tantrum is not going to achieve the best results. However, occasionally other factors, such as mental instability, act as a catalyst to fuel the fire and stir fellow humans to unthinkable acts — the type where we harm each other.

While this can take a variety of forms, the shootings which have dotted my life’s timeline in the news particularly strike me. I’ve noticed four common stages for these horrendous displays: corporate locations, religious centers, educational facilities, and movie theatres.

The first three can be logically tracked as targets.* A corporation represents political, financial power and often frustrates the general public with certain strategic business decisions. We rant about “the man” and how large companies are manipulative and aggressive with self-interest. To an extreme mind, this could easily devolve.

In regards to a place of worship, it is well known that religion and politics are some of the most devisive of social conversations. Even the most peaceful religion can stir vehement feelings from good citizens. The cause of this is another blog post entirely, but we can all agree this topic naturally stirs saturated emotional response.

Attacks on schools seem to come back to high school and middle school. These formative periods are often full of intense interactions where children jockey for imaginary social positions. This emotional hierarchy can lead to alienating and humiliating experiences for many. Some children are not given the tools or setting to cope with such encounters. This can fester over time and, given the internal chemical imbalance, create violent tendencies which are blamed on the education system.

Movie theaters, however, appear to be a random target. There are groupings of people, but not enough to make it a large target. Certainly security is lower, but that is because they don’t deal with high profile material. Their consumer is everyone and anyone; thus, their demographic is across the board. The movies constantly change and are shown all over the world; not only in that particular theater. There is nothing unique to one movie theater at one particular time.

So what makes it a repeated target for such violence?

It could be argued that it’s simply an easily accessed gathering with the cover of a dark room. However, I believe the reason goes deeper into the subconscious.

Story is in fact the target.

Stories communicate hope. Hope, when brought to the hopeless, can be threatening as it offers the possibility of being another let down. Hope is dangerous and fragile.

Stories represent relation. They’re designed by people for people to communicate and empathetic experience. If a bitter, tortured mind believes it is all alone, this could seem like a lie — an imaginary voice mocking you that you can’t turn off.

Stories demand vulnerability. In order to fully immerse yourself in a movie’s experience, you must believe in it. You enter the world the characters exist in and acknowledge it as real in its own realm. Thus, you promise to share the characters’ joy and pain and let it affect you.

Not only is it frightening for humans to be vulnerable, it’s absolutely terrifying to consent to being changed.

It’s not the political or physical elements of movie theaters that have made them repeated targets, but rather what they represent: a space of sharing ideas and connecting feelings.

Of all the things in this world, a passionate idea is the most threatening.

To a fractured, tormented spirit fearful of love, this is the most dangerous substance in existence.

Even if that cannot be defined in words, subconsciously, the communion of fellow humans with nothing in common coming together over an idea in order to change is the most powerful convention mankind can create.

That above pursuit is shared by corporations, religious centers, and schools.

It’s the pursuit of a better humanity. And evil as a fluid entity consciously wants the possibility of a good world destroyed.

The irony is that the places that they target most are things we will defend and pursue until our last breaths. We will not be intimidated out of connecting with each other over a better future as we pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

*One can argue that such attacks are random and their executers incapable of logic, but that is not necessarily true. These individuals have some level of ordered thought, or they would not have been able to organize the steps necessary for their crimes. However, their logic is deeply disturbed. They are driven by either radical emotion or deranged perception. So while revolting, their thought process is valid — even in only in their own minds.

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Metaphors fascinate me. Chocolate inspires me. Adventures drive me. I work in broadcast, film, graphic design, photography, and writing. If there is media and a story involved, I'm interested. I also enjoy yoga, rock climbing, horses, and any skill I haven't mastered yet.

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