Published on June 11th, 2013 | by Ernie0
Going to the Movies
Going to the movies is something I’ve enjoyed since I was a young boy. I remember seeing the original Batman (Michael Keaton & Jack Nicholson), Ghostbusters II, La Bamba, and even Gremlins in a movie theater. For me, there is something so enticing about sitting in a dark room in front of a large screen with overly buttered popcorn and a drink so large it could double as a bathtub for small pets. As I’ve grown older, I have made it a point to see certain movies at midnight showings as well. Over the last few years, I’ve seen The Simpsons Movie, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises at late night premieres.
I mention The Dark Knight Rises because it was just about a year ago that 12 people died and five times as many were injured during a senseless act of violence in Aurora, CO at a late night showing of the movie.
Why is this relevant? Well, let me back up for a minute.
My wife is a survivor. She’s certainly not old enough to be a Holocaust survivor, nor is she a former member of Destiny’s Child. She was in New York City on 9/11/01 and again during the blackouts just two short years later. No, she wasn’t downtown when the towers came down – she was working in an office at Rockefeller Plaza and watched the second plane fly into the towers. She experienced firsthand the panic that came over the city on those days and how difficult it was to get home to her family on those evenings.
Fast forward to a few weekends ago. The weather was cold and rainy so we decided that we would take the kids to the movies. It had been a while since we had seen a movie as a family and my son had been begging to see Iron Man 3.
We got to the theater for an early evening showing and sat near the front. We were early enough that the lights were barely dim and trailers were rolling when I looked over at my wife. Instead of enjoying the coming attractions, I found her steadily scanning the theater with a look of concern. As the movie started to roll, she grew fixated on one individual that happened to sit next to me (our kids sat between us). It would appear as though this individual came into the movie by himself and simply sat in an empty seat.
What my wife had running through her mind was that he was there to proceed with some sort of random act of violence that would put us in harm’s way.
The movie started and my daughter had to go to the bathroom and that’s when I knew we wouldn’t be watching this movie as a family. My phone quickly rang a few moments later and I answered it (yes, I was that guy in the movie this time). My wife on the other end stating that our daughter wasn’t feeling well and that we had to leave.
I knew this was a veiled excuse for her to get us out of what she perceived as a potentially dangerous situation. My suspicions were confirmed on the drive home when she explained that she just can’t take an enclosed crowd like the one in the theater for fear that violence that could erupt. I told her that I understood, but we can’t live in fear of what the next act of violence would be.
My son didn’t understand why we had to leave – we hid behind the excuse of my daughter not feeling well (though she ended up feeling fine by the time we got home). So I had to take him back the following day to see the movie (fortunately, we got vouchers since from the theater stating we didn’t stay for even 15 minutes of the movie before we left).
What I found the next day is that while my wife and daughter weren’t with us, I was the one scanning the theater for any potential threats. I even went as far as making a mental note of the emergency exit from the theater and formulating a plan if something should happen. Now I’ve always been one to scan rooms or keep an eye on people while at a mall so as to try to be ahead of any potentially harmful situation, but this one was all new to me. Going to the movies used to be a way to escape into the filmmaker’s point of view or be care-free for a few hours. And while nothing overly exciting happened in the theater (or in the movie for that matter), I realized I would start formulating plans for my family when we’re out in public places. At least a plan so that everyone knows where to find each other in the event we get separated. But now I’m even considering not attending any late night showings for summer blockbuster premiers. I might only take my family to animated kids movies or films directed completely at kids.
The only thing I know for sure is that going to movies in an attempt to find an escape and enjoy man-made art and effects on screen no longer exists. The excitement has been taken away, replaced with stress and concern. It’s about as exciting as sitting in my living room, just with a much bigger TV.