Reflecting on the tragedy at 'Dark Knight Rises'

The Century 16 movie theatre is seen where a gunmen attacked movie goers during an early morning screening of the new Batman movie, 'The Dark Knight Rises' July 20, 2012 in Aurora, Colo. According to reports, 12 people have been killed and over 59 injured. Police have the suspect, 24-year-old James Holmes of North Aurora, in custody.

I woke up to the news this morning that dozens of people had been shot by a young man at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Colorado.

Midnight screenings are big, hyped, advertiser-driven events. The premieres have become a way to feed the Hollywood data beast, by showing how interested audiences are to see a movie.

But they're also a product of genuine enthusiasm and an expression of collective joy. Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy has meant a lot to an enormous number of people.

And as someone who writes about movies, and who cares about movie fans, I'm saddened by someone turning that shared enthusiasm into a weapon.

This tragedy happened at one of the few mass cultural events left in this country.

Not only that, the alleged gunman used the audience's suspension of disbelief as cover. He reportedly started shooting during a sequence involving gunfire, leaving the audience slower to react.

We're vulnerable when we go to the movies. We're open to fear, and love, and disgust, and rapture.  We surrender our minds and hearts to someone else's vision of the world.

We don't expect to surrender our bodies, too.

About the author

Alyssa Rosenberg is a culture reporter for ThinkProgress.org. She is a correspondent for TheAtlantic.com and The Loop 21.

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