opinion | ty burr
July 21, 2012
Don’t blame the movie.
Don’t blame director Christopher Nolan or star Christian Bale.
Right on. Keeping for my kids when they are old enough to understand.
I don't know if, as this story unfolds, a political aspect to it will come to the fore. The mad Norwegian gunman, Anders Behring Breivik, had an explicit political motive in his murderous actions as did Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City. There is a violent craziness oozing out of some of the websites that are influenced by the far Right in this country. The fears stoked by the Koch brothers, presumably so that they can maintain their vast economic power, can spin out of control. The National Rifle Association sees it as in their interest to spread fear, making money out of their own political manipulations. We are lead to believe that we will all feel safe if most of the people in Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts are armed. Nancy Reagan talked about her tiny little gun and Charlton Heston strutted his manliness leading even George H.W. Bush to defend ASSAULT WEAPONS for...hunting? I think that the argument could be made that merely wanting to own an assault weapon (for peaceful purposes) should raise concerns about the stability of the person desiring one. Why not hand grenades for home defense? And what of the politicians who fearfully fail to take reasonable actions to severely restrict the availability of guns? You can bet the house that these people will shift into high gear to protect their political and economic interests after, perhaps, laying low for a few days. Mr. Burr is right. We need to have a deeper, better, conversation on this.
Congratulations on an exceptional, impassioned and powerful examination of one angle on the tragedy. As someone who has had an entire life of not relating to the movie world, it was impossible for me to relate to the impact of that piece of it. But your description rings true on every level. It does remind me of the constant refrain heard from the movie/television industry, in which they constantly claim that their products have nothing to do with any problems in the world. But those same people then turn around and sell the notion that the medium can be used to teach people how to do virtually anything in the world. The industry only wants to take credit for positive behaviors, and pretend that any negative behaviors have nothing to do with them.
Just to add something else to the "picture"...I was talking to a co-worker, also a 20 something year old....and while everyone might be thinking to how someone like this can happen, and the reasons....he brought up his perspective to a generation: about 25% unemployment, many of his well educated friends working do-nothing jobs just to pay for their high-price college tuition, growing up with a staggering economy.....and lets face it, some are angry, while others are desparate with no hope of it getting better. Certainly not where my head was at 24....I'm 48 years old.
Thank you for this insightful, impassioned and illuminating perspective. All that fantasy (often in the place of direct relationship), plus the use of the mask of a screen name in comment venues like this one, behind which we have the liberty to create a secretly violent speech identity, and you have an anaerobic environment in which to breed social psychosis. Then add free access to guns, especially automatics and semi-automatic. Next thing you know, you're breeding mayhem.
One is sad, mad or bad. Sad refers to affective disorders, e.g.: depression. Mad refers to thought disorders, e.g.: psychosis. Bad refers to antisocial disorders, e.g.: sociopathy. This guy fits into one or more of these categories. The reflections on this piece show how culture informs the way mental illnesses or antisocial/criminal behaviors express themselves. But let's not read too much into the role that movies, music, etc. play in the manifestation of mental disorders or unlawful behavior. Millions are going to watch this movie and they won't start shooting folks once they leave the theatre. Why? Because they aren't sad, mad or bad. So let's not universalize a very singular episode in the life of a particular individual. And above all, let directors like Nolan push the envelope in the exploration of the world of fantasied reality.
"Millions are going to watch this movie and they won't start shooting folks once they leave the theatre. Why? Because they aren't sad, mad or bad. So let's not universalize a very singular episode in the life of a particular individual." This is the standard, tired mantra of the movie/television/entertainment industry, and the one that is trotted out first when something like this happens. Burr's piece can be heard as a call to reexamine that line of thinking. Sure, this is about one individual. But to totally eliminate any consideration of the context is a mistake going in the opposite direction.
This comment has been removed.
We don't live in a vacuum. We live in cultural contexts that we create and that create us. Through the powerful process of socialization, we internalize the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. In that sense, we are all on the same boat. This guy is an outlier. He's mentally sick or he's a bad person. If he is the former, he responded to internal -not external- stimuli. If he is the latter, he should go to prison for the rest of his life. There's no treatment for sociopathy. Thousands of people have already exposed to the same stimulus (the movie) across the country and haven't reacted as he did. Blaming a cultural product is naive and simplistic. At best, it's just part of the equation. But at the end of the day, behavior happens at an individual level, even in the case of group phenomena. Bottom line? Blame the individual, not culture or deft creators of cultural products. Nolan: Keep them coming.
Best writing/analysis I've seen in the Globe since David Shribman left. Saving it for my family too.
System-you need to chill out. Do whatever it is that you do to find your happy place. You're going to pop a vessel or something. Live to troll another day.
Burr is exploiting no one. Only you are using this tragedy as an excuse to slam liberals. How do you sleep?
Horse hockey. There's not a comment on here exploiting the tragedy except yours.
Great article, very well put. There is so much available now - technology provides unlimited access to ever more sophisticated and realistic imagery and information. How does one choose what to filter, and for whom? Raising four kids as technology exploded (they are 18, 20, 23, 25) has been a bewildering experience for me. I know all of them have surely been enriched by what is available, but also certainly in some ways harmed, and their innocence lost at a much earlier age that I would have liked, despite my attempted restrictions. How much is too much, and for whom? How can we protect those who cannot separate fantasy from reality, or who have psychoses that may be fueled by this type of entertainment? As the violence quotient spirals ever upwards in our news, novels, entertainment, games, etc., it seems to become a self-feeding monster against which we have no defense.
Excellent column. Will be interesting to see if politicians touch this lightning rod. The left gets so much of its' money from the Hollywood/Entertainment industry I doubt they'll go near it.