In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I am surprised by the copy-cat behavior reported in the news. Have you ever heard of this before? Normally this type of copying is only seen in the aftermath of a suicide, therefore the media’s hush hush approach on the subject. After Senator Gabrielle Giffords shooting, I don’t recall hearing about any copy-cating in the media. That doesn’t mean that insensitive threats weren’t probably made in passing, just like the recent reportings of subsequent Batman screenings.
I’m floored by the increasing frequency of inappropriate comments and behavior that mimicks the Aurora massacre. The similarities don’t stop with just threatening to be violent, but those threats are taking place in theaters screening the same movie, over several different states. One man I’ve heard of has even gone so far as to bring a gun to the theater and tell people about it ahead of time. That occurred well after the Aurora shooting took place. Another threatened he “should open fire like the guy in Colorado” simply because the movie didn’t start on time.
What’s happening to our society that people have willingly ridden the coattails of maniacs? What purpose is it serving for them to act out in this way? Any behavior we engage in is driven by purpose with the goal of attaining acceptance/approval, respect, valuation or companionship. All in all, measures of success. I don’t think we can boil this down to the economy this time. Sure, sure, dire straights produce dire results, but the economy has shown signs of improvement and these acts are moreso an indication of deeper pathological issues than socio-economic status.
Christian Bale’s appearance at Aurora area hospitals as himself to demonstrate concern and solidarity was commendable. He did this on his own dime and his own time. Good for him. But here’s something I never expected to say out loud: I am concerned that the studio (Warner Bros.) is overreaching in their response. Go ahead, cringe with astonishment at my insensitivity. I am. But consider this: there is now a precedent. These loony tune characters have just been reinforced. Unwittingly, the powerful studios/actors, etc., have just engaged in operant conditioning; a fancy psychological term that describes behavior modification. It’s how you train your dog and to some extent how you discipline your kids, if you’re doing it right.
Warner Bros. cut a trailer from the Batman movie that shows police firing into the crowd. They also withheld ratings findings, agreeing to postpone the release of numbers until an appropriate amount of time has passed in order to honor the victims. At first blush it does seem like the right thing to do but I ultimately don’t see it that way. I am concerned that the results garnered by the nut jobs that have made the news with their calculating insanity, will actually lead to more insanity - as we are now seeing with the increased copy-cating. They will see their destructive behaviors as a measure of control to get notoriety, even infamy based upon the response of powerful Hollywood players.
Have you noticed that post 9/11 there are still images in contemporary movies that portray buildings falling down under attack? The worst civilian attack in our history and it hasn’t stopped filmmakers from using that style in their action films. Take the Avengers released earlier this year. I felt uncomfortable watching alien airships take down one building after another - in NYC, no less. If that hasn’t stopped because we don’t negotiate with terrorists so they don’t have control over us, why are we changing our behavior now? It will truly be like the release of Arkham Assylum if more reinforcement continues.
By the way, why is it this movie that has sparked all the crazies to come out of the darkness? This is not the first violent movie or even the worst violent movie out there. In fact, Christian Bale has known his 15 minutes of fame for his bad temper and even accusations of violence against his wife and his mother. Perhaps it has to do with the superhero concept involved. Delusional and/or Narcissistic people often attribute larger than life qualities to themselves. That makes me chuckle at myself because I’m writing a book that has a superhero element to it, so I guess that makes me delusional.