Colorado theater patron sues Warner Bros. for film violence
A patron of the Colorado theater where James Holmes carried out his horrible shooting rampage has retained lawyers and announced his intention to sue the movie theater, Holmes’ doctors… and Warner Brothers studios, because their movies are too violent.
The prospective plaintiff, Torrence Brown Jr., was not actually injured during the incident, but one of his friends was killed, and according to TMZ he “claims to now suffer from extreme trauma.”
Brown would bring suit against the theater for failing to monitor the emergency door Holmes used to launch his attack. It is thought that the killer propped the door open, went to his car to get his weapons, and then returned to the theater through the emergency door. The door evidently did not sound an alarm or trigger any response from theater staff when it was opened.
Holmes’ doctors would be put in the dock for failing to adequately monitor his medication and mental state. This aspect of the suit might gain some force after the discovery of a notebook mailed by Holmes to a University of Colorado psychiatrist, in which he provided details of a planned massacre, including stick-figure drawings. This package was not delivered to the doctor, for reasons not yet clear, and lay in the campus mailroom until it was discovered on Monday morning, during a sweep triggered by an unrelated package incorrectly believed to have been sent by Holmes.
But suing Warner Brothers, which just happens to have by far the deepest pockets of anyone involved? According to TMZ, “[Brown’s lawyer, Donald Karpel] says Dark Knight Rises was particularly violent and Holmes mimicked some of the action. The attorney says theater goers were helpless because they thought the shooter was part of the movie. Karpel tells TMZ, ’Somebody has to be responsible for the rampant violence that is shown today.’”
Yes, preferably somebody with a ton of money, who has a keen interest in offering a quick settlement because they’re worried about bad publicity.
Beyond its opportunism, this aspect of the suit is another example of the hall of mirrors we find ourselves wandering through, once we’ve decided to blame everyone except a criminal for his actions. The Dark Knight Rises was not a particularly grisly movie. It had plenty of violence, to be sure, but it’s not some sort of quantum leap forward in brutality. Actually, it made a point of downplaying bloodshed and keeping the most gruesome events off-screen – to the point where a character taken down with an extremely powerful weapon, at very close range, leaves not a drop of blood.
Nor does The Dark Knight Rises trivialize violence, or treat it as hip and cool. If anything, it’s the only superhero movie to date that makes a big deal about the physical and emotional costs of crime-fighting. I doubt many viewers would find themselves eager to jump into Batman’s shoes after watching this film. And you really don’t want to jump into Catwoman’s shoes. They make it tough to walk.
Civilization is all about denying thugs and lunatics a veto over the thoughts and deeds of innocent people. I’m not ready to let murderous psychopaths decide what I can write about, what movies I can go to see, or which of my Constitutional rights should be honored.
On a much higher note, Batman himself, actor Christian Bale, made a visit to survivors of the shooting rampage in Colorado on Tuesday. He didn’t seek any publicity, asked for no assistance from Warner Brothers, and thanked medical staff and first responders for their efforts, in addition to spending time with the victims. The assistant vice president of surgical services at another hospital, who was attending a luncheon at The Medical Center of Aurora when Bale arrived, said “He did this out of his heart, and you could really tell. It was so sincere. It was just, ‘thank you.’”
Now that’s a fine way to answer evil.