There is a problem with the movies. Not enough that we watch them, no matter the content. No matter. No matter. No matter the ONEWORD deathdyinggenociderapeviolenceindifference. No matter the real of the unreal or the unreal of the real. I get it. I get the movies. I don’t understand the human experience and, therefore, I understand the need for us to create it. View it. As if it were a way to learn being. I get it people. It’s not about this.
Though I felt like I was the only person incapable of watching the rape scene in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Though I covered my eyes and ears like a small child, appalled by the obviously written/planned/performed/ scene. Though I was even more appalled at the 100 other people in the theater watching attentively. Intensively. Intentively. As if watching a simple bird pick its morning worm. Or a tree grow slowly over a hundred years. Though it was unfathomable to me. Though I finished the movie and told myself I’d never watch it again. Though I know people who had a harder time watching the dog die in Marley & Me, than they did this sadistic torture. Though I felt, for lack of a better words, disgusted.
It’s still not about this.
Something says it’s okay. IT’S OKAY! WE ARE AT THE MOVIES. IT’S NOT REAL. LET’S WATCH SOMETHING WE’D NEVER WATCH IN REAL LIFE BECAUSE WE ARE AT THE MOVIES. It’s an escape to better and worse worlds. And it’s all okay.
Almost every eyewitness account of this shooting said they thought “it was part of the show.” A man walks in an emergency exit at midnight with a gas mask and bullet proof vest and people’s first thought is “he is in costume” “he thinks he’s the dark knight” “he is part of the show.” I can’t help but think in another space, one where we are not expected to suspend our disbelief, awarenesses might not have been so inhibited. And this is not an argument of change. Even if people had been more alert they were still trapped inside the dark square with a gunman.
Immediately upon waking, immediately upon news stories, upon all the outrage, I had this sick feeling. Sick because in all my awareness, I had imagined this happening before. In 1997 I saw the movie SCREAM 2. The movie begins in a movie theater. The movie begins with people dressed as killers in the movie theater. Everyone has a weapon. Everyone assumes they are props. And suddenly, people start getting murdered. And everything thinks it’s part of the show because they are in the movie theater. People cheer. People are entertained. People think this is what was supposed to happen. All because they are in a movie theater. All because they have already shed their awareness before entering the dark room. All because it is assumed that everything inside this room is a product of invention and imagining. And here I am making a point about the imagined with something also imagined.
But ever since I saw this, I have thought about it every time I’ve entered a movie theater. I’ve thought about how easily we give ourselves. How in the jumbled up confusion of believing something so hard, we momentarily forget who we are. Where we are. Why we are.
And because we can not trust that someone in this world will not enter our spaces and hurt us. And because we can not seem to control the gun problem in this country. And because no matter how hard we try, pre-meditated acts will always have a leg up on us. All we have is our awareness.
Because when we are at the movies we are at the movies. Because we are vulnerable at the movies. Because we are stripped of our normal defenses at the movies. We are all vessels of awareness. No matter how big or small. The mind is full of trickery. Our levels of awareness are altered depending on our immediate places. The movies feel safe. The movies feel like a second home. We forget this it is a public space. We forget there are no metal detectors or guards or people making sure we are being good. Because why would we need that at the movies?
At the movies we are giving ourselves to the movies. We are looking forward only. We are immersed in film. We are not aware of anything except what the filmmaker wants us to be aware of. We are transformed. We are unthinking in our thinking. It’s not the movies fault. It’s because nothing in this world can be controlled. Because everything is controlled. Our minds are such strong animals. They have us all the time.