Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

My Brief Statement on the Colorado Tragedy and Violence in Movies

Posted by CinemaPsycho on July 27, 2012

I haven’t really wanted to make a comment on this, mainly because I don’t feel it’s my place and because anything I could say would seem trivial at this point. Obviously it’s a horrible tragedy, and like millions of others I feel deep sorrow for the victims and their families. I truly wish this hadn’t happened at all, much less in a movie theater, a place I consider sacred. There are no words to express one’s feelings towards such an event, and I dare not even try. This blog is certainly not intended to discuss real-world matters such as this, and there’s nothing I can say about the shooting itself that hasn’t already been said many times over. Right now I would give anything for James Holmes not to have done what he did. He was clearly a severely disturbed person who needed help and never received it, and for that I also feel sorrow. Again, words fail me.

But what truly offends me, almost as much as the terrible event itself, is that the so-called “debate” over violence in film has erupted once again because of James Holmes’ actions. Even though it’s been widely reported that Holmes was obsessed with the Batman and Joker characters, not with violence in films. Christopher Nolan’s PG-13 Batman films are not even particularly violent by today’s standards, so to point the finger at them just seems ludicrous to me. To all the people that are currently blaming The Dark Knight Rises for what Holmes did in Colorado, keep this simple fact in mind:


The idea that Holmes was motivated by this movie, other Batman movies, or any other movies, is simply not true. He was motivated by his own mental illness. As someone who has struggled with mental illness myself in the past, I can tell you that someone who suffers from OCD or other psychological maladies can get fixated on anything. It almost doesn’t matter what it is. It could be another person, it could be a band or a politician or a fire plug. The obsession is the problem, not the object itself. When a mentally ill person stalks an actor, no one blames the actor and says he or she should stop acting because they are influencing the disturbed. When someone shoots up a mall with an Uzi, no one blames the mall for existing and the victims for shopping there. The victims were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Period. The survivors and the victims’ families aren’t blaming the movie – why should anyone else?

If you really want to understand people like James Holmes, my advice would be to watch Taxi Driver. Whether it was intended to be or not, Martin Scorsese’s film is the ultimate portrayal of the untreated mentally ill mind. Travis Bickle clearly suffers from obsessive, violent thoughts long before the term “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” was coined. No film I’ve ever seen has done a better job of exploring that mindset. In my case, I was aware and capable enough to recognize that I needed help, and I got it. James Holmes did not, and tragedy ensued. That’s the bottom line. It’s not something you can explain in rational terms. It’s not an experience you can make people understand. It’s an illness that needs to be treated with medication and therapy, and terrible things can happen if it’s not. That’s not to say that James Holmes is not to blame for what he has done – it’s simply to explain that whatever set him off is irrelevant. If Batman didn’t set him off, something else would have.

Here’s the thing, folks: millions upon millions of people around the world watch movies, including those that contain depictions of violence. Very, very few of those people ever commit real acts of violence. Does anyone honestly believe that censoring films will lead to the eradication of real-world violence? That’s extremely naive at best. Violent people do violent things; that’s the way it has been since the beginning of time. If you choose to blame Hollywood, Christopher Nolan, Warner Brothers or DC Comics for this tragedy, maybe it’s you who should consider why you need a scapegoat so badly.

Movies reflect the society in which they are made: if you want to reduce violence, maybe you should start with society rather than a mirror image of it. When the world changes, so will the movies. And it would probably help if mentally ill people didn’t have access to fucking assault rifles. James Holmes is the killer here, not the movies. Remember that.

And to all the conservatives complaining about “liberal Hollywood” and violence in films, does this mean you all plan to avoid The Expendables 2 next month? Put your money where your mouth is, or shut the fuck up. Really.

2 Responses to “My Brief Statement on the Colorado Tragedy and Violence in Movies”

  1. linn said

    well that is getting the point across—–some movies are very helpful in understanding what is going on–ever think that dark esoteric forces are abound and the killer got caught—spiritually— in the dark circle and got snapped up inside—LOOK AT THE BULGE OF HIS EYES— he is not alone?????–no movie does this— the colorado killer was not protected and grounded in CHRIST AND GOD and if you are dealing in the dark path—ground yourself first and learn to stay protected.—quit blaming books and movies—its deeper than that>>>>>learn and study the paranormal and esoteric paths the people in the 1800’s took—many wrote of the dangers of the uninitiated…..and careless.–like the movie ””Inciduous”’ >> — some of the knowledge is true and the directors took it from real life happenings and you can definitely learn from it.

  2. CinemaPsycho said

    Wow, this is really not the response I was expecting…

    While I respect your beliefs, I really don’t think religion has anything to do with this case. I don’t think we know anything about Holmes’ religious background or lack thereof. Many well-known murderers and serial killers were raised in religious households. And being religious doesn’t keep people from suffering from mental illnesses.

    No disrespect to you, but the most hateful and ignorant people I know also call themselves Christians. For all we know, being force-fed religious dogma during childhood may have contributed to Holmes’ insanity.

    Again, I’d like to reiterate that people suffering from mental illnesses need to receive professional help. Apparently it was reported today that Holmes actually sought the help of a psychiatrist at one point. Apparently the system failed him.

    So let’s not make this about religion or politics or anything else that has nothing to do with anything. I think it’s more accurate to say that Holmes had no connections to the real world, something he desperately needed. Anyone who would blame a Batman movie for that is naive and short-sighted.

    I just wonder when people are going to start blaming Bob Kane for creating Batman and the Joker in the first place.

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