I haven't seen the new Batman movie yet and really have very little interest, despite some rave reviews. I read and heard and saw rave reviews of the last Batman, DARK KNIGHT, but was pretty sure I wouldn't dig it, and I didn't. I saw it because my youngest son wanted to, and I wanted him to see it with someone who would have a more critical eye.
I wrote about it in a post back then, seeing some plot points as seeming justifications for the actions of the then administration's (Bush/Cheney) actions and policies. From what I hear about this latest flick, it too seems to have some rightwing over, or under, tones. But as I have said in many posts, not just the one about the last Batman movie, and as my friend the great photographer Robert Zuckerman has said in many comments on this blog more succinctly and better, I believe these kinds of violent movies, even when clearly fantasy, contribute to the level of violence in our world.
Michael Moore made a point recently in his response to the Colorado movie theater massacre that Canadians have a lot of guns and watch pretty much the same movies and video games etc. we do and yet they, like all other industrialized nations, have only a tiny fraction of the gun deaths we have in this country. So it can't all be about gun control and culture. But nonetheless it is clear that the automatic weapons ban could have kept the massacre to fewer dead and wounded, and that our violent films and video games etc. coupled with our violent history and bias toward vigilantism etc. has contributed to a culture of less sensitivity toward brutality.
I mean just look at the way we went from the "Marcus of Queensbury" idea of rules for boxing to all out kicking and strangling etc. in the kind of fighting now more popular among boys and young men on TV. Yes, a boy from a stable home with a good upbringing and positive models for settling disputes through reasonable discussion etc. will most likely not massacre innocent people in a movie theater. And one who has had a psychotic break or some deepseated mental aberration that can lead to inhumane, let alone inhuman, behavior, may become violent without watching merciless brutality on a movie or TV or computer screen. But even in the latter cases, a sick person might opt for a less destructive weapon than automatic rifles and handguns.
Recently a woman was accosted by a mentally sick man on the street in Manhattan and sprayed with Mace and stabbed. She survived the stabbing thanks to a nurse among the passersby helping until an ambulance arrived, and the man was easily caught without harming anyone else. Imagine if rather than Manhattan with its tougher gun laws, he was somewhere where he had access to automatic weapons when that same destructive impulse to harm a stranger came upon him.
I worked in commercials in the 1990s. Not something I had planned to do, and I did my best to avoid doing commercials for products I thought contributed to the culture of violence (and refused to do voiceovers for violent video games which was a big income loss at the time). And one of the things I learned in doing that was how corporations spend billions on research into how to get people to respond the way they want them to through filmed commercials.
No corporation would spend that kind of money unless they got results. So for people to pretend that violence on movie and TV and computer screens doesn't impact people, especially young minds, and sick minds, and yet commercials on the same screens do, is disingenuous at best. I suppose I'll eventually see this flick when it's shown on TV. My youngest has already seen it with a friend and dug it. My take doesn't have as much of an impact as it used to. But he's capable of critical thinking and if and when I see it I'm sure we'll have a lively discussion, as my older boy and I used to about the same thing, only then the violence wasn't even as bad as it is now. (I remember how the first GODFATHER movie and CHINATOWN and THE WILD ONES and other 1970s movies that first introduced a level of realistic violence never before seen on screen upset me at the time, and now they seem so tame!)
So, my take is that if the killer of those theater goers in Colorado had not see DARK KNIGHT and Heath Ledger's impactful performance as the ruthlessly violent Joker and didn't have easy access to automatic weapons, those people in that Colorado theater that night, or at least more of them, would still be alive and unhospitalized.