A Colorado Critic’s Reaction To Today’s Tragic Aurora Shooting
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A Colorado Critic’s Reaction To Today’s Tragic Aurora Shooting

Associate Editor and Colorado citizen Jonathan Lack provides an editorial on today's tragic movie theatre shooting in Aurora, and how we should not give into fear.

As We Got This Covered’s only writer from the state of Colorado, I felt it would be proper to take a moment to share my thoughts on the horrible tragedy that occurred early this morning at an Aurora movie theatre.

I am currently vacationing elsewhere, but when I woke up to read the news and learned what happened, I was deeply saddened, and unsettled to my very core. I live less than an hour away from Aurora; I have close friends and family who live there, and have visited the Century 16 theatre where the shooting occurred on several occasions.

In the United States of America, we read about senseless acts of violence and depravity every single day; we should be deeply disturbed by every story of this nature, but I know for many, including me, the full, devastating impact of such destruction doesn’t always hit home until it happens to one’s neighbors.

Yet the grief I feel today for the latest tragedy to befall my home state is undoubtedly incomparable to what the friends and families of the victims must be experiencing. I know it is an overused phrase, but I mean it when I say that my heart goes out to these people. I can imagine nothing that will ease their suffering, but I am sure that my voice is only one among a nation of fellow mourners, and I hope that outpouring of care and moral support counts for something.

For those who survived the shootings, I cannot possibly fathom the fear you experienced in that auditorium, nor the courage it took to stay strong through one of the most horrific events a person could experience. You, along with those who did not make it, are heroes. I do not use that word lightly.

For everybody else, those like me who read about this event and have spent the day wandering in a sad, disturbed haze, the best piece of advice I can give is to go see a movie.

I know that sounds obvious, coming from an entertainment writer, but that’s why writers like me are covering the story today. The shooter struck at the heart of our industry: The audience. He targeted a group of people who waited in fervent anticipation for hours to see a film. The film itself, no matter how ‘big,’ is irrelevant. What’s important is that the audience thought they were safe undertaking the simplest of enjoyable activities, an activity we are all familiar with, and this villain gunned them down.

I am not assigning motives to this criminal – I doubt he had any beyond mindless slaughter – but I know the effect his actions may have on the public. I know that today, it is only natural to feel apprehensive about returning to the Cineplex, no matter how ‘big’ the film opening may be.

And so I say to you, again, go see a movie this weekend. It is imperative we rise above this act of senseless violence. It is imperative we do not let evil change ourselves and our routines. To do so would be to vindicate this man’s crime, and do wrong by those he struck down.

I have grown up in an era of giving into fear. I was seven when the Columbine shootings occurred, mere miles from my doorstep, and spent the next twelve years watching the public education system grow increasingly paranoid to the point of militancy.

I was nine when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Centers, old enough to remember when it was still exciting to ride in a plane. Those memories now seem like dreams, as America steadily gave into every single inch of the fear, suspicion, and widespread distrust those terrorists wished to instill.

It is my sincerest hope that July 20th, 2012 will not be the next terror landmark in American history. We are faced with two options after what happened in Aurora: We can go back to the movies in a show of solidarity, or we can stay away in fear. We can install metal detectors in cineplexes, put officers at the entrance to every auditorium, and slowly spiral out of control until seeing the new cinematic sensation requires a passport and a pat-down.

Going down the latter route will only vindicate the actions of a madman. Continuing to frequent the movies – with strength, not fear, in our hearts – will show that we are, indeed, better than the criminals who terrorize us.

I do of course know that the issues that led to this act of violence are much more complex than what I have presented here. In my opinion, anyone who is not in favor of a major, widespread crackdown on the sale and ownership of firearms in the United States after today is insane, and completely unfit to be called ‘patriotic.’

But I am not here to discuss politics. This is not a political website. This is an entertainment website, and as an entertainment writer, I feel it is my place to urge readers not to give in to the fear the shooter has instilled. And the fear begins at the movie theatre.

So go see a film. Do so with friends, and family. Mourn for the victims and their families, and keep survivors in your thoughts. Hold Aurora in your hearts, and do not ignore your grief.

But do not give into fear. Never give into fear. Only then do we dishonor the dead.