I had been looking forward to “The Dark Knight Rises” for months. Of all the comic-books-into-movies I like director/writer Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the DC comic character that first appeared in 1939. The second film of Nolan’s franchise, “The Dark Knight” (2007), is possibly the best sequel ever. It’s mature and deep. I was hoping for another film just as good.
Then I woke yesterday morning to the news of the midnight shooting in a theater showing “The Dark Knight Rises” at a multiplex in Aurora, Colorado. As of this writing 24-year old suspect James Holt is alleged to have shot 71 people; twelve people have died so far.
The film begins in violence, continues in violence, ends in violence. Several scenes feature someone, usually the dark figure Bane (Tom Hardy) and his henchmen, spraying people with semi-automatic guns. And no one bleeds. Not really. People, well, characters, do die but it’s a fantasy video game on a big screen a la’ “Transformers”.
I have so many questions.
To obtain the coveted Motion Picture Association of America’s PG-13 rating movie studios sterilize the violence by removing the consequences: they eliminate blood and most of the pain. This rating technique deepens the disconnect between reality and story in films even further. The MPAA says their content analysis criteria for the ratings are set by what parents want, expect. What is the cumulative influence of violent movies with no consequences on young teens? Comic books and their movies are fantasy, yes. But the heroes are mostly sympathetic, despite their costumes, and we care about what happens to them. But in movies they get hurt, practically die, and get up to walk again and join in the next battle. Are the moral dilemmas and the violent non-sanguine solutions to conflict in this genre of film really so benign?
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