Here is one of my favorite quotes (thank you Pinterest):
I can't wrap my brain around this whole "movie massacre." I'm not sure anyone can yet. We haven't been given a ton of information about it, the news channels are just recycling the same thing every hour. What I've seen a lot from commentators and from social networks, however, is that we should focus on the victims and survivors and not on the shooter. Fair enough.
So who are the people who go to midnight viewings of popular movies?
They are the people who are too excited to wait until Friday to see it with everyone else. Nerds. Geeks. My kindred spirits.
The midnight viewing of a movie is a nerd paradise, something we look forward to for weeks, something we buy advanced tickets for like we're going to a rock show. Nerds are the early adapters of pop culture, which is why Comic Con buzz can make or break an upcoming TV show, movie or comic book series.
Nerds like to get there first; they love to experience moments with like-minded friends because they're so excited about a movie, a piece of art, an adaptation, a vision that they can hardly stand it.
At a midnight viewing we love to discuss and debate tiny details and try to pick up on obscure references from the trailers (was that dog in the Superman trailer Krypto? Looks like Clark's new fave show is Deadliest Catch) to the end credits (Marvel has DC totally beat on this aspect). We love to dissect and put it all back together again. Put on our stamp of approval (I love the trend of Brits as American superheros … Christian Bale, Andrew Garfield, Henry Cavill), and file it in our brains as one of the coolest experiences ever.
Or if it's not as cool as we hoped, we have fun anyway. After a disappointing Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull midnight viewing, after a few beers and bewilderment over CGI prairie dogs, me and my friends kept yelling, "Don't you get it? Knowledge was their treasure!"
It's supposed to be a safe place. Sometimes the world isn't so kind to nerds and geeks and people who get uber-excited about things. This is the kind of space that makes us feel totally relaxed and accepted because you're in a room full of other people just as nerdy, geeky and excited as you are. You get together with 10 of your friends, save seats, get sick from eating too much popcorn, pay too much money for a gigantic "small" Icee.
In Christopher Nolan's (director of The Dark Night Rises) statement on the shooting, he says:
I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.
The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.
Yes. A movie theater is an innocent and hopeful place. It's a place to see visions and stories unfold, or a place to see treasured books or comics come to life in front of you. Or a place to watch really expensive special effects, whatever floats your boat. It's a place to take a break from life for a few hours, travel to other worlds.
There are midnight viewings that I am proud of (Star Wars episodes I, II, and III, all of the Lord of the Rings, most of the Harry Potters) and some that I am not so proud of (er, Twilight). I went to these viewings even though I had class or work the next day, got to the theater ridiculously early to get a good seat and sit back and take a break from life for a few hours by watching something that I've been so excited about for weeks, months, maybe even years.
I can't imagine in that moment of excitement, in that moment of experiencing something you see as so special that you're willing to lose sleep over, that you're shot at. Opened fire upon. Killed. It's absolutely horrific and is just an unfathomable violation.
I remember going to a Star Wars midnight viewing and while sitting there for quite a long time waiting for the movie to start, people got up and started mock-fighting each other with plastic light sabers. So innocent. A bunch of grown-ups playing with toys (and some were pretty damn skilled in the Jedi arts). It was great. People get so excited about these things that they dress up like their favorite characters. It's par for the course.
When survivors of the shooting said that they thought the guy armed in riot gear, bursting in from the exit door was part of the show or some kind of publicity stunt, I believe them. I would have thought the same thing.
But in response, movie theaters are instilling no-costume rules or dressing up as anything that might make customers uncomfortable. I'm just not sure that this is the answer.
Banning fake weapons (plastic lightsabers) but not the real ones? Putting an end to the threat of Boba Fett masks? (You can't watch a movie in those things anyway.) What would be wrong with wearing a Han Solo costume to a movie theater? Or someone dousing themselves in glitter for the final Breaking Dawn premiere? When we start stifling our creativity and excitement, what does that do to us?
A few weeks ago I went to a viewing of Magic Mike and saw a few people, whether intentional or not, dressed up like Ronnie and Snookie from Jersey Shore. Do I now get to tell security that this makes me feel uncomfortable and get them kicked out? How do you gauge such a thing?
What makes me feel uncomfortable is that someone can legally turn themselves into some kind of DIY War Machine and open fire on a roomful of people just trying to relax and have fun, innocently watching something they're excited about.
I'm being mildly facetious here, but there's a huge gun debate that's brewing (that I'm not about to get into here) and gun enthusiasts love to talk about their right to bear arms. Okay, that's fine. Well, what about my right to dress up like Wonder Woman?
Or Captain America.
It makes me think of my stepson dressed in his Thor mask and Spiderman cape, holding his figurine that, every few minutes, spouts a command recorded by Chris Hemsworth, running through the house with a gigantic smile on his face. Not a care in the world. He's a little nerd-in-the-making and at just 5 years old is obsessed with The Avengers. I'd never ever want anything to extinguish that excitement or put out that light in his eyes. It's a light that I recognize as a fellow obsessed fan.
I hope we can go back to experiencing these things again, not a care in the world. A gigantic smile on our faces as we watch a great movie in a theater, a shared experience. I hope that midnight viewings keep going strong with no fear and that people will still dress up like Han Solo. I so love seeing him around.
My thoughts are with those who were injured or died just because they were so excited to see a movie, they went to a midnight viewing and were brutally shot. My hope is that the excitement doesn't extinguish. That they can heal and enjoy these things again soon.
My prayers are with you, fellow nerds.