Why today’s society has a roll in the Aurora shooting…and it has nothing to do with gun control

I read a fantastic article in the Globe this morning by film critic Ty Burr about the Aurora shootings. You can find the article HERE, but I would also like to contribute my own 2 cents.

First off, my heart goes out to every single person who has been affected by this tragedy and all those who have lost loved ones and friends. This was an awful tragedy, but what sickens me even more is how it has been dealt with the in the 36 hours since.

I hate the broadcast news media anyway with their glorification of all things terrible and wrong with this world. (Not that the pointless human-interest stories that somehow get classified under “news” are much better.) They prey on incidents like this. They throw victims on the camera just hours after they went through the worst experience of their lives and watch the advertising money pour in as they air coverage of the tragedy for hours and hours straight. It sickens me.

And now all anyone cares about, as is always the case anytime anything happens in the months leading up to a presidential election, is how it deals with politics.

Who cares???

Mothers have lost their children. Wives their husbands. Friends their unbiological brothers and sisters.

But no, let’s talk about gun control. Ridiculous. Of course neither candidate is going to broach this topic with the election less than 4 months away. They aren’t stupid. So let’s stop calling them out for not taking any action regarding gun control. How much of a fight were you putting up for gun control issues on Thursday at 9pm? That’s what I thought. No one could have predicted this tragedy. And certainly no one could have prevented it. This man was obviously seriously messed up and all the gun control laws in the world would not have stopped him. People can still find guns. And people can still kill without guns.

And anyway, have you every applied to get a gun permit? It isn’t an easy process! Unless you’re going to prohibit anyone but law enforcement officers and the military from carrying guns, you aren’t going to make much of an impact on the number of gun-related deaths every year.

It’s often the people who do the stupidest things who are some of the smartest people out there. They will find another way to execute their plan. Just read about what this lunatic did to his apartment! Someone who put that level of planning into an act of violence such as this would not be perturbed by a stricter gun law.

Let’s keep going with this blame game.

How about the violence in the movie itself?

Seems logical enough.

But really. This wasn’t some kid who went to see this movie with his friends and was so inspired by the violence and killing on screen that he decided to pull out the rifle he happened to be carrying in the back of his pants and start blowing up the place. This was a methodically planned out event that just happened to take place at the midnight showing of a violent movie.

Yes, I know there are connections. And that article does a great job of showing why this man might have chosen this venue, but the movie is not to be blamed. Christopher Nolan did not lead James Holmes to kill 12 people and injure over 50 others.

Perhaps it was the society we live in that led to this tragic occurrence.  Perhaps Holmes got so wrapped up in the fantasy that today’s society and media have created. Whether it be in high-grossing trilogies on the silver screen, a video game about mass murder in the xbox of young boys and men (and girls) all across the country, or an app that tells you what Kim Kardashian walked out of her mansion wearing today. Fantasy is everywhere. And as Ty Burr states, it is very easy for Americans today to just hide in this fantasy and never come out.

When’s the last time you walked out into a busy, public place and didn’t see at least half the people staring down at their iPhones or Blackberrys?

We are addicted to these tiny screens because “The screens tell us that we matter, each and every one of us. To look away from the screens is to confront a world that says, in most cases, no, you really don’t.”

“Our entertainment culture’s dreams of power are a drug that keeps us rapt in a cloud of promises: that we can win and that winning is everything; that we’ll be seen and heard for who we are if we’re thin enough or strong enough or have the coolest toys or the biggest guns. The fantasies lie, because the people who make the fantasies know we’re desperate to be lied to and willing to pay for it. And every so often, when we’re sold a fantasy that is so well made, that seems to tap so deeply into our very real sense of imminent catastrophe, and that seems so self-aware about the fantasy itself, certain people respond to it as if it’s the Truth.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this as well. I bawl my eyes out at certain episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Lost no matter how many times I watch them, because it feels like I’m best friends with George O’Malley and Charlie Pace. And don’t even get me started on when the last Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out (I’m talking about the third one here). I was so upset that the saga was over and I would never know what happened to my beloved Jack, Will and Elizabeth. It was bad.

We all need to wake up. Step away from the screens for a few hours. That Facebook message from one of your thousands of friends will still be there tomorrow. You can catch up on the newest episode of American Idol the next day (or better yet, just stop watching it altogether because we all know it has long outstayed its welcome). Set down the video game controller for the evening and go out with some friends. I spent last night eating some fro yo and walking along the Charles with friends, no screens involved, and it was a super fun night!

We don’t need these screens. Stop letting them control us. Don’t let yourself get caught up in this fantasy.

James Holmes got caught up in this fantasy and ended the lives of 12 innocent human beings because of it.

Stop hiding behind your screens (cell phones, televisions or otherwise) and face reality. If everyone did this, maybe lunatics like James Holmes wouldn’t get so caught up in a superhero movie that he does the unthinkable.

Now close your computer and go outside and meet up with some friends!

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