How responsible is cinema in making people violent?
It was a horrific night at Denver, suburb of Aurora, Colorado last week when a terrifying tragedy unfolded during the screening of the new Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises”. A masked gunman, who entered the theatre without attracting attention, opened fire on the patrons, killing a dozen people. The incident ignites the debate that movies shape the mood of the people, and most of the time it has terrible consequences.
Before we move ahead, we have to know what makes cinema different from TV in the first place. Aren’t both supposed to provide entertainment, one in the comfort of your room and the other in a theatre? There are lots of differences, the most important one being that of concentration. While watching TV you tend to get distracted by the other people in the house, friends who call upon you at odd hours as well as calls on your mobile phones, which are a norm these days. On the other hand, in a theatre, you can’t use your mobile phones due to jammers (and sometimes due to film-watching etiquettes), your best friend is the person sitting besides you and your entire concentration is one the big screen in front of you, which makes you cry, feel happy or agitated as well. That’s how the two mediums are too different.
That’s exactly how I think the mind of the shooter reacted to the story of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ where Gotham City is under attack by outsiders and Batman is aided by the locales who help him by taking up arms. Would the attack have been avoided had the movie been a romantic comedy instead of action-packed thriller? Yes it could have been, but sadly, wasn’t.
This is not the first time that America has been at the centre of the gun control controversy, but the rest of the world is no different as well. Watching a movie in a theatre in Pakistan is a pastime yet it changes the mood of the viewers’ big time. Recently, on my way back from a show of Men In Black 3 – the comedy flick featuring Will Smith – I was in such a good mood that I forgot to return my 3D glasses at the exit of the theatre. Similarly, after watching The Avengers in 3D, I ate heartily as well as if there was no tomorrow … since a good action-packed thriller makes some people hungry, especially if the movie has The Hulk in it.
Watching a movie in the cinema doesn’t need to change, what needs to be looked at is the reaction of those in the theatre. Some visit the cinema to forget about their failure to succeed in the office, some want to escape the fast-pace life of the real world while there are many who actually feel soothed after 3 hours at a theatre. The movies do change the perception of a person, it is up to the person to choose the right movies, instead of going in and watching any movie. The right movie is likely to make you a better person, whereas a bad choice can have serious repercussions.