Friday, July 20, 2012
Reflections on "The Dark Knight Rises" Incident
Editor's Note: We at PopTometry have no illusions of grandeur about what we do. While we take great enjoyment from writing about the fluffy bits about pop culture, fully they will remain. And while much of the movie-going public will be enjoying the latest Batman film this weekend, many will be doing so with a cloud of anxiety given the tragic events in Colorado where a madman with a gun took 12 innocent lives and injured many more at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." We've planned a round-table review of the film for a later date, but given the circumstances, we would be extremely obtuse, and incredibly foolish to not acknowledge what has taken place.
By Dave Beauchene
I didn't bother to look up what tragedy people were referring to, more and more, on Facebook this morning; I was too much enjoying making my wry little sarcasms about the movie I'd just seen: The Dark Knight Rises. Like take this one:
So, The Dark Knight Rises; not... "Bad" as much as it was ... "not quite as good as an average cheese sandwich". Beneath that bar, though, TOTAL tour de force.
Then, not two posts into things, I saw one reference too many to the Colorado issue, and I searched it, and I read about it. I'm not posting any more jokes. The obvious insight here is that my narrow perspective – all pent up about movies – was broadened by something tragic. It's just the opposite though. I wasn't remotely upset about not liking the movie very much. You learn, as you get older, truly, to laugh more and more. When the show goes downhill, you learn to transition how you enjoy it. You learn to make a feast out of mild disappointment, just as you once reserved exclusively for grandest appreciation. Because one thing you also learn as you get older is, you gotta eat. It's not worth it to spend so much time starving in between.
No, I didn't like The Dark Knight Rises very much. Too much of it felt created, situated and deliberately functionalized. Not enough took over and swelled with life and the unpredictability that Heath Ledger's Joker brought the previous flick. That's one thing I thought a few times over: God, tragedy has some long arms. If that guy was in this movie, it might have had just enough kick. I miss that actor, genuinely, as an audience member.
A few years back, my philosophy professor pointed out, in class, that how I experienced was through movies (I connected them, like an idiot, to everything we read and studied in class) and while I agreed, I didn't know what that meant exactly. Now I do, as I find I experience through film not a fraction of what I once did. Everyone takes a tiny handful of personal experiences from all the movies they watch; I just made a habit out of it. I got most of mine there, probably. It's suitable you could wind up actually missing an actor you'd never known, in that case.
But this was the movie we got, and as soon as I grasped that it wasn't going to hit Dark Knight heights, it was, at least, enjoyable. I laughed, a couple times, at things that were not intended to be funny. I watched as all the pieces came together, and thought: ah well. And then I went outside, and said, passing the people waiting with high anticipation for their show, that it was amazing how Carrot Top came into play in the third act, and laughed and laughed with my wife about what they must have made of that remark.
See. I didn't like the movie much, but it was undeniably a part of a happy, casual slice of my life. And then I read about the Colorado event, and now it doesn't feel like that anymore.
What the fuck does it feel like? Ya know what, I'm tired of trying to figure that out, frankly. Not just here, with anything like this, that inevitably rears its head every so often, invariably undermining life at ease and happiness. People always seem to want to learn a lesson from it, not necessarily because there is one, but because you can't escape it, perspective wise; it takes over. It's a lot easier to look at the point of view you can't shed as barring enlightenment not priory available, but I don't think it ever does that. I don't think this connects with the underpinnings of the film series, and I don't think anyone should try and make that connection. It's just a fucking movie.
And if anything that's one of our problems right now. We're all learning to experience, to relate, to become one with our media in a way that, just this past weekend produced a degree of ugliness on Rottentomatoes.com not prior exhibited. The comments on critics giving The Dark Knight Rises poor reviews were hateful and mortally threatening, to the point comments were, for the first time ever on the site, disabled. It's completely conceivable that Nolan's Batman movies might inspire that kind of allegiance. They depict a degree of serious narrative and creative rigor, a grandeur of scale rarely afforded such accessible, widely beloved material. There's a lot to set up home inside and live in. Saying the creator's conclusion to this series lacked, truly becomes an attack on people personally.
I'm not crazy about a lot of Nolan's work, myself, but the man has never seemed pretentious to me. He applies his endless rigor and elaborate construction as someone striving to make the best movie they can, not flatter themselves. I'm sure he's heard about the incident. I'm sure he's fucking heart broken. Why does this shit wind up connected with his movies? They can't hold it. They don't want it. They don't need it. They deal in serious subject matter, but as a way to deal with it, not a way to imply command over it. That's the thing. When something like this happens, like what happened last night, it's so hard. It's so wrong. It's so bad. It's why, when we can get far enough from it, we create things, share things with each other, in person or in cinemas worldwide. We try to get somewhere, together, and often it goes off half-cocked. And that's OK, even if it's worth a few jokes.
But when it's here, it stops everything else. We don't want it to, not because we want our fun to stop, but because we don't want the dark to win (we really took that on after 9/11, and it's admirable in lots of ways) but the tough part is there's no way around it, however you choose to respond. Tragedy effects, because it's tragedy. I started talking to my friend over the phone this morning about the movie, before I heard what happened. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation, before I had to say I'd call back later. I don't want to talk about it now. I want to go back to being cheerily disappointed by a movie that, even as it disappointed, was such a really, really cool thing in the grand scheme. I don't like the movie any more than I did, but I realize more than ever how great it was to decide I didn't like it, in the kind absence of things that give you no choice.