Sunday, July 22, 2012

Movie Massacre

I was saddened to hear a few days ago about the shooting in the theatre in Colorado. It happened during the midnight screening of the new Batman movie. There are several detailed articles including survivor accounts on CNN Fox etc... The man that released tear gas and opened fire on the audience killed at least 12 people and wounded dozens more. Shortly after the incident the police caught him and he identified himself as the Joker.

This really made me think about media violence and how this killer emulated himself after the villain of the last Batman movie. Heath Ledger did an amazing job as the joker and conveyed the darkness and 3-dimensional psyche of the character. Most people thought it was just great acting and left it at that but the power behind the portrayal of the joker had a profound affect on this killer.

He mimicked the violence he saw on TV and identified himself as the fictional villain. This really hit  me because even though we talked about it, I didn't know how powerful media violence could be on an adult mind.

(pictures from


  1. The top photo is from the New York Times.

  2. "I didn't know how powerful media violence could be on an adult mind." Great point. In class we have talked about how adults have a responsibility to think for themselves and avoid manipulation by forms of mass media. Clearly James Holmes didn't see Heath Ledger playing the Joker in his own childhood. So what sparked this act of violence? The guy is smart, but clearly disturbed. He was a doctoral student before quitting in June. The only conclusion I can draw about the case is that this man would not have failed to find some other way to cultivate and nourish his obvious psychological tendencies toward destruction if The Dark Knight Trilogy had never existed. Does media create the killer or does the killer create the media?

  3. As much as I would love to have something that I could blame James Holmes' actions on, I really don't see how you can definitively say that his exposure to violence in the media caused the shooting. While certain scenes and ideas from violent movies may have inspired the way that he went about the shooting, I don't think it instigated the shooting itself. Plenty of people see violent things in movies, video games, and the news each day, yet they don't all go around killing innocent people at random. Only James Holmes decided to enter a movie theater, dressed as a villain, and shoot people at random. I strongly believe that the media cannot be blamed here. The motivation behind this attack came from something more than just watching violence on TV. Whether it's a mental disorder or the way he was raised, I don't know, but in this situation I can't place all of the blame on the media.

  4. I feel compelled to respond to this since I did look at predispositions for my presentation on sex in the media. James Holmes is sick. A normal person doesn't watch the Batman movies, say he is the Joker and open fire in a theater unless there's something there that makes him identify with the Joker. It's all about predisposition. I think the issue here is not that the movie made him do it but that the media coverage on his actions could spark other predisposed individuals to act on their urges. Media coverage must be carefully framed when it comes to something like this, which we talked about in class. Too little information and the story isn't properly covered, and too much information and you risk having copycat killers mimic his actions. It's such a sad event, but to blame the violence in the movies for one individual's clearly disturbed actions just evokes fear thinking that any violent program could cause someone to kill. If that were the case, there would be a lot more killers out there. Hopefully this will be the only incident in response to the Batman movies and in response to James Holmes' actions. The world is a scary place, but don't forget there was some heroism that came out of this story, too.