I saw Batman Begins. I enjoyed it. I saw The Dark Knight. I enjoyed it. I had plans to see The Dark Knight Rises, and then there was the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
While I read articles about the tragedy, I ended up reading an old review of the second movie, the one I had seen and enjoyed. The reviewer summarizes the movie thus:
I will attempt to confine my plot spoilers to the opening: the film begins with a heist carried out by men in sinister clown masks. As each clown completes a task, another shoots him point-blank in the head. The scene ends with a clown – The Joker – stuffing a bomb into a wounded bank employee's mouth.
After the murderous clown heist, things slip downhill. A man's face is filleted by a knife, and another's is burned half off. A man's eye is slammed into a pencil. A bomb can be seen crudely stitched inside another man's stomach, which subsequently explodes. A trussed-up man is bound to a chair and set alight atop a pile of banknotes.
As I read that matter-of-fact summation of a movie I had enjoyed, I realized there was something terribly wrong with all of us in general, and with me in particular. I can't stand to read the review, but I can watch the actual movie? I decided to not see the third movie at all.
Recent blockbuster movies normalize the collateral killing of thousands. I don't want to be acclimatized to this. I dislike the idea of what we will allow to happen when we can say, "Oh, it's just like in that movie I enjoyed so much."
Removing PG-13 action movies from my viewing list leaves incredibly few films left for me to watch. And that's okay. I dislike the idea of constant entertainment as a distraction from existential pain. And I don't want my kids growing up with that ingrained in them.
Last week I subbed in a Primary class. We sang "What Do You Do in the Summertime?" The song might as well be describing life on Mars. "Do you fish in a stream / or lazily dream / on the banks as the clouds go by? / Is that what you do? / So do I." The boy next to me said, "No, I play video games." Yes, yes you do. Just like every other under-30 male in the world.
A few months ago at my son's Cub Scout meeting, each boy who came to the front had to tell his favorite hobby. Every single one of them said, "Video games." Including my son, who gets to play Wii for two hours on Saturday morning. He's alive for 168 hours in a week, and the thing he does for 1.19% of that time is his sole identifying characteristic? My wife tried to defend him by saying maybe he was just saying what the other boys said so he'd fit in. As if that's any better. When the weather turned warm we completely removed the Wii from the Saturday rotation. The kids have kind of noticed, but in their hiking, bike riding, and lawn mowing, they haven't had much time to formulate their objections.
Two Saturdays ago we hiked to the top of the highest point in Maryland. (That sounded like a much larger accomplishment before that last word, huh?) The Screamapillar rode in a backpack, completely quiet except for the occasional sigh in my ear as he took in hours in the woods. The way people were meant to live, whether you believe God created Adam (in the woods) or we evolved from lower primates (in the woods). Have we ruined him already, with entire days spent inside, some form of media constantly playing, unnatural colors and flashing lights on all his toys (and so many toys)? Is a Saturday afternoon in a backpack in the woods enough? Or is he going to grow up thinking "What Do You Do in the Summertime?" is as anachronistic as a strop and a full-time job?
It's probably poor form to end this post with a question, but I really don't have any answers.