21 July, 2012

What is This World Coming To?

The world awoke yesterday to the shocking news that a random gunman took out his angst on a crowd of movie-goers. My godmother lives in that town. (I assume she's not the kind to go to a midnight release of ANY movie, Batman least of all.) Sadly, my deep, dark, know-it-all cynic wasn't shocked.

Hm...okay, yeah, the thought that it happened? That gave me a "who DOES that?" eyebrow-raise. But when the girl they interviewed said, "He was wearing a gas-mask. He was totally covered up, so you couldn't tell his race or anything," I said, "White, nerd-boy." Sure enough, when the picture and description came on, I had him pegged.
Quiet. Check.
Kept to himself. Check.
Hardly seen in his own neighborhood. Sould like someone who spends too much time online or gaming? Check.

...I am a nerd. I recognize the type. Who else would target Batman, of all things?Am I disturbed? Yes. In the way that I have an icky taste in my mouth for the direction society is going. And it's no better anywhere else.

Central America: Drug cartel violence.
Middle East: Religious persecution and radical violence.
China (and other East Asian countries): Repression of all sorts.
Africa: Guerrila warfare.
Everywhere: Import/export of sex slaves.

Broad generalizations? Sure. But I mean it. As soon as I thought "I'm ready to get out of this uber-violent, screwed-up-in-so-many-ways country," I realized the lack of alternatives. There's trouble everywhere, and it's been that way for a long time.

Decades ago, when our family was returning to the States from Sri Lanka on furlough, all my friends from school were so worried about me coming to the violence of Chicago. And yet, for the 4 previous years, we received endless letters from Stateside friends and family expressing their concern for our well-being in the violent political upheaval of Sri Lanka! There is violence everywhere. No society is better at eradicating it, no religion is better at preaching peace (believe me, they all preach it, but the extremists of any religion breach it).

I guess this kind of thing has the deep shock value of being apparently totally random (or totally personal, if they find that like the Columbine kids this guy was just mad that he had no friends).

Religious attacks are their own kind of stupid, but there is a - MISGUIDED - ideology behind it. Identifying that seems to unify both the attacker and the attacked. But this one guy, James Holmes? ...the heck?

On September 11, 2001.
Was I shocked? Yes.
Did I cry? Yes.
And then some idiot came on TV and asked how it could happen... "How did they get through our security?" and I laughed a bitter, know-it-all laugh. Security? In the States? Hah!

Understand, by 2001 I had traveled around the world multiple times and gone through airport customs routines in all kinds of places, from small airports in India to major international hubs across Asia and Europe, and including the gamut of U.S. airports. Trust me. Before that sunny fall day in 2001, U.S. airport security was...negligible.

That's just to say, I guess I'm a bit jaded. I don't understand what makes an individual do something like that, but it no longer shocks me. It's just news. Even though I have a connection to the town in the form of family.
It's just. News.

Just random people I will never meet, in a community I haven't seen since I was a kid.
Just another random act of incomprehensible violence. Ho-hum.

My routine won't change. The Movie Whore in me won't second-guess going to the movies because of this. ...I'll probably wait for the DVD of this one, but that's just because I don't like the direction Christopher Nolan is taking my favorite superhero, not because there are crazy people on the loose.

What about you? Were you actually surprised? Am I alone here in just sitting and shaking my head in bewilderment about the stupidity of this, but not weeping over the loss of life? Not being surprised it could happen?

I tell you what will not surprise me. What will not surprise me is when we find out that James Holmes, in fact, spent more time online than in real life. That he had more "facebook friends" than real life friends. That his life revolved around himself. We already know he was not a visible presence in his community, so I won't be surprised to find he was not involved in any community organizations.

We need to connect. I love my blog, but have never used it as a substitute for interpersonal interaction. I enjoy facebook, but only as a way to keep up with actual people who I actually know. Get out there, people! Close facebook for a day or two and interact. Walk through your town and actually greet people with a smile. Make someone's day.

Let's show the world that the James Holmes' of this world can't bring us down.


  1. This whole shooting was just sad. It's funny that both Sri Lanka and the states were worried about each others violence. No matter where you go poeple are just ...poeple.

    1. I agree it is sad. Unfortunately I can't judge what kind of violence is better!

  2. I don't think I could agree with you more, because the sentence that stood out the most was "I don't like the direction Christopher Nolan is taking my favourite superhero".

    Desensitised much? I think I am. "Another day, another shooting in America". That pretty much sums it up to us in Australia. This was an actual conversation I heard last night before going in the cinema to watch The Dark Knight Rises

    "I almost I didn't want to come today, what if some copy cat nut storms in like that guy from America"
    "Unlikely, that stuff only happens in America."

    Which is not true, massacres happen all the time in other countries (war lords in Africa anyone? Australia's last gun related massacre was in the mid 90s, then you had the guy in Norway last year) but when the world imports your media readily, it would be hard to shake that reputation.

    But what is your beef with the Nolan franchise?

    1. Well, I was recently informed by Brett that "Dark Knight" is actually a Batman knock-off, which makes me feel better about not liking it.

      To me, Batman, as a comic book superhero with comicbook villains, should be portrayed as such. The movie series that began in the 90s with Jack Nicholson as the villain was very comicbook-ey. Excellent. That's the way it's supposed to be. Even Batman Returns - which was the dumbest of that series - kept to the comic-ey format.

      Christopher Nolan (I thought, but maybe it's just the Dark Knight franchise) tries to make everything seem as if it might really be able to happen in real life. That's not the point of a comic book hero.

      Knowing Dark Knight is not the same as Batman annoys me, but makes me more comfortable to skip out on this movie. And maybe sell my DVD of "Dark Knight".

  3. I have to say, this is a brave post.

    I am not necessarily shocked by the shooting, but I am sickened by it. And for me, what makes it so much worse is that the general attitude is ho-hum. When did we stop caring?

    I agree 100% with the last part, we have such disconnect in our society. I don't even know the names of most of my neighbors, and I've lived in this building for several years.

    1. It is sickening. Sadly, the more these things keep happening, I think the more "ho-hum" we will look at them.

      ...until it happens to us.

  4. The lack of shock value is saddening, but I am the same way. It happens often enough that I am not blown away by the stories of school shootings the way I once was.

    The part of the story that stood out to me was a reporter the next day showing lines at the movie theater. "Despite the tragedy that occurred last night, people are still going to see the movie."

    Why wouldn't they?

    Are our lives just supposed to come to a standstill because of this idiot? He was apprehended. The movie theater is no more dangerous of a place than it was a week ago. This was another one of those random acts of violence that unfortunately has become fairly common.

    We will always be at the mercy of the crazies in this world. We are nowhere near as secure as we fool ourselves into thinking.

    If some radical loony wants to strap a bomb to his chest and get on a city bus, what would stop him. NOTHING!

    It could happen in a bank, a city playground, a sports stadium, anywhere. We just have to decide of we are going to live in fear or enjoy our lives. The crazies aren't going away.

    1. ...and it does happen anywhere.

      I have to set aside "feeling" about things that don't actually personally effect me, otherwise I'd be a basket case.

  5. The thing that is sad to me is that people are shot on a daily basis in many cities, yet the only killings the media cares about are the multiple murders. The higher the body count, the more gruesome they get, then we want to hear about it. What about the people who die every day? This is why we are desensitized, as well. Death only matters if it's a good story.

    1. Kianwi, THAT is a Very Good Point. It's a mass media world, and the big stories get the bigger media.

      I'm glad you brought that up.

  6. I'm the same, I just see it as news. This case made me sit up and take notice, but mostly I just hear about it and think 'ok, so that happened.'

    You could always come to Australia. Our biggest crime is jaywalking.

    1. Sweet! I could sing The Philosopher's Song from Monty Python...that's supposed to take place in Australia. Or I could join a protest for ocean water quality with Surfrider International.

      ...or just go to Tasmania and look up the Devil...
      So many choices.

  7. Obviously the gaming didn't help his mental condition. In those instances, I believe they feed on that type of lifestyle. My son is a gamer, but doesn't have a mental condition. He is quite happy.

    He did go see the movie, but didn't like how it ended. I probably won't be seeing it. I never cared for Batman.

    1. I have a nephew who is not supposed to watch shows or movies with violence, because his behavior becomes more aggressive afterward. He's 12, very smart, and very active. And absorbs Ev-ery-Thing.

      I still haven't seen it. Might not, now that I know Dark Knight is a totally different franchise from Batman.


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