Jul 202012

Note: I wrote this before Death Is Bad was up. I originally posted it to my other site, HPMoR:The Podcast. I’ve moved it here, but I’ve left the original post uneditted.


I was woken up this morning by my phone ringing. I ignored the first call, but when it was followed by another call immediately I assumed something was urgently wrong. It was my brother, stationed in New York, calling to ask if I’d “done anything dumb” like go see the Batman midnight premiere. After a “What? No…?” he said that was good and he had to call our other brother.

For a second I considered going back to bed. But when that’s your wake up call you know something bad has happened at a Denver Batman premiere. And since it’s a Batman premiere, you immediately think a crazy man shot, exploded, or otherwise murderized a movie theater.

I think everyone I know is safe. At the very least, everyone I care about deeply is safe.

Some small part of me can almost empathize with the shooter. That’s the shit part of all this, and that’s why I need to vent.

A truly great work of fiction changes the way you see the world. The Dark Knight (2nd movie) was truly great. That’s why there were rumors after Heath Ledger’s passing that his acting as the Joker was partly responsible for his death. Take something that’ll twist your view of humanity and reality for two hours, make yourself the focal point of that twisting, and live it for months. How could someone not be changed by that? All folk psychology. Actually shooting a movie is nothing like living inside it. As Jack Nicholson said, to suggest his death was caused by a role he played is insulting to actors everywhere, and to the memory of Ledger in particular.

But the audience, we can live in a movie for two hours. If someone gets really wrapped up in it, he can live in that world for days, or months. He already has to be a little bit crazy, of course, a bit detached. And that’s why we can relate to the crazy-fuck shooter. We’re all a little bit crazy nowadays, we all live in a world that’s only half real, the other half a constructed façade we make for ourselves and agree to respect. So we imagine what it must be like, to be more than just a bit crazy, to be full-on insane and tear through that façade and be unable to understand why everyone else is still bound by it. There is nothing there!

Now and then, there is a slip. What if someone really WAS the Joker? What if someone brought that chaos into the real world, and showed people what a joke we all live inside of? It wouldn’t take much, would it? Go to a movie theater and bring them into the movie. Make life surreal, make it like the altered reality I’ve been half-living all these months. It shouldn’t be that hard, to make life a movie.

The real question is – Joker outfit, or Bane outfit? At first glance it should be the Joker outfit. After all, this is a Joker emulation. It is exactly the sort of thing he would do. And no one’s seen Bane yet, this may not be Bane’s style. It probably isn’t, actually, he seems more focused than the Joker. So… Joker. But – Joker is sooo two years ago. Bane is now. Bane is what’s happening. When bringing the movies to life you have to bring the current movie that everyone cares about to life. Not the last installment. How sad. Poor little crazy man, living in the past, all hung up on a fad that’s passed. No, it has to be new, it has to be hip. As every revolutionary knows, style is important. So – Bane it is. Black leather and gas mask. Done.

Who knows but Joker would’ve done the same?

Obviously this is horrific, and only an actual insane person would do this. The brother who called me just got back from a year-long tour in Afghanistan. I can’t imagine him going to a midnight showing, out for some fun with his friends in a supposedly safe place, able to finally be at ease… and then have this madman break in and start shooting. Maybe shoot my brother, leave him crippled, or dead. Surviving a year at war only to be killed in a movie theater.

Actually I can imagine it, which is worse. What I can’t imagine is my reaction.

I hate that I can relate. When one steps back for just one second and considers what’s actually happening… the lives destroyed, the way the real world is torn asunder. How could I have empathized even for one minute? But then you step forward again and there it is. It’s intoxicating while you’re in it. Intoxicating is actually a good analogy, it’s just as distorting and harmful. It’s the same way deep religion submerses you in a fantastic altered reality.

I had an almost identical reaction to the Columbine shooting. Although this really can’t compare. This was just waking up and hearing the news. Columbine played out live in front of me, stretching out over hours. I chain-smoked while I watched, and wrote, although I don’t have those notes anymore. I’m sure they were similar. I’m not sure why I chain-smoked through it. I suppose it felt appropriate to have the air swimming with murky whorls of grey, dancing in the sunbeams. One always tries to shape their environment to reflect their mental state, no?

Why is the President commenting on this? Are we all really that close to the line of insanity? Is that why this is such a big story right now? Kids are shot every day in the inner cities, no one comments on that. Maybe it’s just because this is not part of the plan.

I don’t know if my mental state actually reflects what these mad fucks are feeling. Maybe I’m projecting far too much. I think I can say one thing with some confidence though. When they actually went through with these acts, the reality of what happened was nothing at all like how they imagined it would be.

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