Midnight Screening Brethren
It was about 30 minutes after I woke up on Friday, after two-hours of sleep, that I heard about the in-f***ing-sanity in Aurora, Colorado. Some crazy dude dons a gasmask and shoots up a midnight screening of Dark Knight Rises, 59 injured, 12 dead. Everyone has to have heard about this by now, 5 days after the fact. Since then I’ve heard a lot of gun control sound bytes, a lot of “what made him do it” questions, a lot of rote “our heart goes out to them” politicking, but only one guy has really been saying what I’ve been feeling: Kevin Smith. He spent the days which followed on his Hulu show Spoilers! and on his podcasts empathizing with the folks in that theater as a fellow film-buff. They were us, man. I was at a 3:30 a.m. screening of the same movie in a different state because I couldn’t wait to see that movie either. I’ve attended 6 midnight (or later) screenings since March this year: Hunger Games, Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-man, and The Dark Knight Rises.
Movie theaters are sacred places for a lot of us. We go there to get excited. We go there to be taken away from ourselves and the world we see everyday. As soon as I learned how to dial a phone I knew two telephone numbers by heart, my home phone number and the number for Lakehurst Movie Theater. Between the ages of 7 and 13, I woke up every Saturday morning, went to the phone in the kitchen, dialed the number, and listened to all the movies and all the times they were playing that weekend. All those possibilities. All those pretty people doing fascinating and adventurous things. The General Cinemas logo made my heart skip a beat before the previews would start and I would know that for at least an hour and a half I could stop worrying about everything and just have a good time. I got movie theater coupons for birthdays and holidays, every single first date I’ve ever been on and at least 90 percent of every other subsequent date in those relationships took place in a movie theater, and every birthday I go to a movie with my wife and parents. I remember every family trip and major life event around what movie I saw in which theater and with whom I saw it. I realize that for some people movie theaters are just a place to pass the time with their giggling friends, but for me they’re the place I went to learn how to dream. They showed me what we can be, what we aspire to, and what we can feel. They still show me all of those things. Since I first sat behind an electric typewriter when I was 12 years old, the movie theater feeling is something I’ve been working to create with words on paper, a video camera, and a group of like-minded dreamers at my side. Movie theaters are responsible not only for many of the events that have shaped my life, but for the person that I am today.
My heart goes out to the people in Aurora not only because they were innocent human beings caught up in the nightmare of one psychotic who felt powerless, but especially because they’re my midnight screening brethren. There’s no logic in what happened. No amount of social change can balance the scales on bullshit like this. But even if reality’s villains decide to take to the movie theaters, you’ll still find me there at every opportunity, because that’s where I’ve always found my heroes. And I wouldn’t want to live without them.