post-aurora: that dark night.

I was watching Australia’s news-based panel The Project on Friday evening when the host interrupted broadcasting to announce that 12 people had been killed in a mass-murder in the Aurora Theatres in Colorado during the The Dark Knight Rises   midnight release.

I will not repeat the entire happenings of the tragedy, as you can read my previous news article by clicking here (or probably know all about it anyway), but I felt obliged to follow up the situation now that the world has experienced a mass-murder like no other.

The devastating incident was not the biggest of our time, nowhere near it, but the way in which it took place has had an immense effect on society and even the Box Office. After the announcement and media release was made on Friday night, I don’t believe many people stopped to think, “I wonder what this will mean for the film”, but it is clear that it has caused a wave of distress and unease in movie-goers. I know I’m one of them.

Before you get your feathers ruffled up, and start stressing over the fact that a movie’s success should not be impacted by a disastrous event such as this, it is needless to say that it just simply has had an impact. There is no more to it than people currently being possessed by a certain fear when sitting in a dark cinema, now that 12 people were shot dead and dozens more injured, by a PhD student who stormed into the cinema heavily armed.

I was driving to work this morning when the radio station began a talkback discussion on psychological effects that it has had on people here in Australia. A father told of his experience, where he took his 11-year old son and himself (both had been hanging out to see the film for many months) to see The Dark Knight Rises the night after the attacks.

He had not discussed the tragic event with his son prior to seeing the film, but when they were seated in the cinema, the man noticed his child was constantly looking around theatre in a startled manner. His son continued to do this throughout the entire film, jumping at slight noises and being completely distressed by the heavy fight sequences.

After explaining the situation, the man told the radio hosts that although the attacks had been distressing, he had not expected to go into the cinema and have shootings play a role in ruining the movie experience for him, as he is a major fanatic. Yet when he described how he and his son were forever looking around the seating for dark figures, he realised that the Aurora deaths had impacted him in a way he didn’t think they would.

A Batman tribute image released earlier this week.

Ten minutes later, a single woman called up to describe her experience with the same film on the same night as the father. Seating herself, she was automatically uncomfortable being in a dark cinema, but noticed she wasn’t the only one doing routine glances around the room. What interested me most was the fact that the woman stated that she was not thinking of the narrative or cinematography of the film as it was screening, especially in the action-packed scenes, but was instead wondering if she was currently witnessing the exact moment that the Aurora victims were when they were shot dead.

It has simply come to this: an expanding fear of terrorism in even life’s most minor experiences, such as visiting the local theatre. Engaging in a conversation with fellow employees last night, I brought it to their attention of parts of the U.S. banning Batman costumes, with guns still remaining legal. The right to bear arms is bound by the constitution, and nothing will be done about it…it is something I have to come to terms with, as I raised my hands in utter frustration at the country’s weak attempts to stop violence. My colleagues were just as disgusted on the matter, but one found himself more appalled at the effect it has had on the film and it’s franchise.

From what I have heard, the film is a brilliant piece of work from Nolan, and I do long to see it. But like the locals on the radio this morning, and most likely thousands (if not millions) more, I am hesitant to now sit in a theatre and watch the same film that I know 12 people were watching when they were brutally murdered.

The psychological effects of the Aurora shootings have more than just an effect of those directly involved with the tragedy; the world is now being forced to come to terms with the unsafeness of places they once deemed safe, more than ever before. Neighbours of the mass-murderer told of how they never would have suspected such a “quiet, shy and intelligent” young man to commit such mania.

We’re all paying for it now, of course no more than the victims and families of those involved, but we are all paying for it in our own personal way, whether that just be passing up an opportunity to see our favourite flick at the cinema around the corner from our house. The Batman franchise is paying for it too, and unfortunately, the film will always be linked to the deaths of those victims.

I was browsing Twitter after I heard about the incident to see the reactions and updates on the situation as they were flooding in, when I spotted a collection of tweets from a name I saw was familiar. I had heard it repeated over and over on the news break just before my seating in front of my MacBook, but I couldn’t pin a face to the name.

Jessica Ghawi, shot dead during the Aurora massacres.

Tweet after tweet of a girl called Jessica Ghawi was being retweeted (for those that don’t know Twitter terms, her previous updates were being reposted by others) on my timeline. I then came across her own direct tweets. I had been following this girl before the attacks and wasn’t aware of it. So the shock kicked in immensely when I realised she was the Jessica Ghawi, aspiring sports journalist, from Colorado who was the first to be named as one of those shot dead in the film premiere. She was 24-years old.

This is my point. We have all been affected; whether in minor ways, like the father who didn’t think he was affected at all but couldn’t properly enjoy his favourite film saga afterwards, or like me–losing someone on my Twitter (who I had never had the joy of conversing with, but nevertheless I had been following unconsciously) who was just like myself: an aspiring, young journalist.

We never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

Thoughts and prayers are with the victims, family and friends of the Colorado shootings.

Rest in peace.