This is not a review.
After I saw "The Dark Knight Rises" on Thursday night, that's what I intended to write. A long, spoilerriffic review of the final film of Nolan's epic Batman trilogy.
Then, James Holmes killed 12 people, and called himself the Joker. He dyed his hair and put on riot gear, and killed a six-year-old girl with an assault rifle. He injured 57 others.
Then, yesterday, Christian Bale visited some of the victims of that shooting. He met with seven people still in the hospital in Aurora, CO, met with doctors and police, with some of the first-responders to the tragedy. He went only with his wife, no entourage. He specifically asked the hospital not to call the press. Of course, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, it was out within minutes.
The victims in particular were so happy to see their hero. For them, Bale was not just an actor who has spent the last several years donning a costume and running around expensive sets with explosions going on behind him. For them, he was Batman.
In this day and age, popular entertainment can seeem to be a repository for what is bad and wrong with society: we rail against the violence in television and novies and games, the sex, the exuburent way the makers of these media seem to revel in the darkness they show, and the way the public laps it up. We point to these things and sometimes think, "This is what's wrong with society. We enjoy watching these things. It's entertainment." But, it is more than that. When Holmes shot up a theatre calling himself the Joker, we can choose to cower in fear and blame the violence on a film that glorifies such characters. We can boycott. We can shake our fists and say, "Hollywood is to blame. Movies like The Dark Knight Rises cause these things." But, I disagree. If you saw the film . . . if you have seen any of the films . . . you know what I'm talking about. Batman as a figure is a symbol of order within chaos, of good standing up in the face of evil. Batman, especially Nolan's Batman, Bale's Batman, is more than a man. He can be anyone, any one of us with the courage to do what is right. He is the one who stands when others cower. He is the Dark Knight.
In the wake of such horror, we can be angry and afraid. Or we can rise. We can choose to be heroes to those around us. Remember to make the right decision, even if its hard, even if it's not popular. Sometimes its as simple as giving a dollar to the man on the street so he can get a coffee. Sometimes it's letting someone get in front of you in traffic, or stopping to really listen to our children when they want to tell us something. Sometimes it's a movie star going to visit strangers in the hospital, just to hold their hands, and take a picture, and tell them he's sorry and that they will be all right. They are strong.
Maybe it sounds silly, but we can all have a little bit of Batman in us. We can stand together after this tragedy. We can Rise.