Friday, July 20, 2012

In the Wake of Tragedy...

It's likely the teaser trailer for Man of Steel ran in that Aurora, CO theatre moments before James Eagan Holmes walked into the auditorium and started shooting. I had been luke-warm on this Superman reboot, but something about that teaser really hit me in the heart, and I think it comes down to the voice over by Russell Crowe as Jor-El:

"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time you will help them accomplish wonders".

It's silly, I know, but that's what I think about the most. What these characters are supposed to be to us, how they are supposed to inspire us to make ourselves better, to help each other, to shepherd our world closer and closer to the kind of bright, noble place it could be. If we'd only stop being so selfish. If we'd accept our failings, stop looking for excuses, and WORK to make the world better.

Superman, Batman, Tarzan, etc, etc, the list can go on forever, represent not reality, but an ideal. Perhaps an ideal that can never be achieved, but certainly an ideal that can be reached for. If a bystander pulls someone from a burning car, and says "it's what Superman would do," is that any less powerful, or real than if they said "it's what a fireman would do"? Is that inspiration to be scoffed at? Is it to be belittled?

I say it is to be revered. Superman doesn't have to be "real" to inspire, he need only be a symbol of what could be. These stories, these characters, these myths are our legacy of morality, hope and basic goodness. To have this horrible loss of life tied to them pains me.

Which, of course, doesn't even touch the pain of the victims and their families. I mean no disrespect my what I've written, only that this tragic event stirs in my soul the understanding of how far we are from where we could be.  My deepest thoughts and best wishes to each and every one of those touched by this horror.

It pains me that people will blame the film for this rampage. It's inevitable. It's the nature of where we are now, as a society. Scrambling to find easy answers, to assign blame, to look anywhere but at ourselves and our own culpability.

Millions of people saw The Dark Knight Rises last night. Most probably just had a kick-ass time, some may have been reduced to tears, and truly felt Christopher Nolan's deep understanding of exactly what I'm talking about above. Almost all of them didn't have the urge to kill anyone, except maybe the idiot in the front row who just couldn't stop checking Facebook on his damn phone. ONE guy, James Eagan Holmes, felt an urge he could not control. It was an urge that erupted in that auditorium because there were lots of unsuspecting people in a confined space, not because of the movie. A movie which, when you get down to brass tacks, he didn't even see, walking in some 15 minutes after the film began and immediately firing.

That action is about James Eagan Holmes, not the movie.

And it certainly isn't about Batman, who's legacy, who's meaning, would've been to provide an inspiration to Holmes in his darkest moments, and help him see a way to carry himself through his despair. To see that he could prevail over demons, within or without, and reach for the better part of himself. The part of all of us that he, and all our heroes, real or fictional, represent.

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