I have nothing profound to say anymore about these barbaric acts. The above is self-evident and hardly original. But it is madness to continue in this rut and a little self-policing is in order.
I’m not sure there is an easy link between movies and gun violence. I think the link is between the violence and the publicity. Those like James Holmes, who feel the need to arm themselves, may also feel a deep, inchoate insecurity and a need for validation. Whenever a tragedy like this takes place, it is assigned catchphrases and theme music, and the same fragmentary TV footage of the shooter is cycled again and again. Somewhere in the night, among those watching, will be another angry, aggrieved loner who is uncoiling toward action. The cinematic prototype is Travis Bickle of “Taxi Driver.” I don’t know if James Holmes cared deeply about Batman. I suspect he cared deeply about seeing himself on the news.
As with all the other “causes” of the mayhem we can list, the shooter’s desire for infamy is somewhere in the mix, always given a weight appropriate to one’s world view and politics. But isn’t it the one thing within all of our powers to affect?
Unfortunately, in order to alter the media dynamic and deny the next James Holmes the pleasure of seeing himself plastered all over the news, the culture itself would have to change. The nature of cable news makes it imperative that they devote all of their resources to satisfy the voracious appetite of the public for information about the killer and his victims. A similar drive for readers motivates newspapers, news sites, and blogs to give blanket coverage to the event.
So this little essay is as useless as anything else being written about the massacre. There are no solutions, no insights into the whys and wherefores of how we turn the horrific into the banal. We are, all of us, trapped in a temporal loop, condemned to repeat the immediate past the next time our lives are jolted by the barbaric act of a nut with a gun.