My wife and I saw the new Batman film this weekend. We’re not blockbuster fans but occasionally enjoy a bit of escapism. An escape from reality, of course, is what the moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado were looking forward to last Friday midnight before a gunman suddenly began firing into the audience. The reported initial reaction of some of the filmgoers was chillingly revealing – they thought the shots were part of the show. That hope immediately vanished, but it served as a mad metaphor for a society that increasingly has trouble distinguishing where fantasy ends and real life begins. For people in Aurora last week, escapism meant fleeing a movie, not attending one.
America, shocked as it was by the carnage, didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic to search for causes or lessons, let alone metaphors. So the ensuing discussions, in the mainstream media, at least, were mild compared to those that followed disasters from Hurricane Katrina onward.