This blog post is not intended to offend anyone. I believe all of our hearts go out to the victims and we stand unified in our belief that public shootings need to stop. Unfortunately, we cannot agree on what needs to be done. Humor sometimes shows the absurdity behind serious social issues which helps us to better understand our beliefs and hopefully, to question our positions and/or possibly adopt another or at least be willing to compromise for society as a whole.
My intent behind this post is to show the unnecessary hardship that has been placed on everyday people who are merely going about their daily activities. Going to the movies was once a very innocent activity that now requires us to think about an analytical safety plan and a tactical exit plan.
This post is a stream of my conscious thought while at the movies.
Last week I snapped this quick pic with the caption: Pit bulls, hand guns and Cajun food…I’m in Louisiana! Emphasis on the exclamation mark. Not that I am a real supporter of any of the things listed in the caption but together it meant I was visiting my son in Louisiana; hence the exclamation mark.
Two hours later two victims and one murderer were dead in a movie theater shooting in Louisiana.
I removed the exclamation mark.
Currently, I am on holiday in sunny Scottsdale on a mommy retreat. I basically got tired of squatting at people’s homes and decided to go where I am most comfortable: a resort community. Therefore, I am spending my days doing what I do best tanning, writing, catching up with friends, and going to see Indies films which I ABSOLUTELY love. I have attended a movie every day since I arrived. So before I left for the theater yesterday I PM’d my oldest son.
In the UAE, there’s no need to worry about someone shooting up the movie theater while we are watching a film. Guns are illegal in the country. Only the police and the shooting ranges have fire arms, and so far (knock on wood), there hasn’t been a problem. The only problem we have in movie theaters in the UAE are talkers, mobile phones, and the eager beaver censorship that will chop any good movie in half. Hence, the Wolf of Wall Street being converted to a short film. Therefore, I am not at all used to profiling movie attendees to see if there might be a “shooter” in the crowd. Or the need, as the announcement suggests before the film begins, to check for the nearest exit. Why else would I need to check for the nearest exit? I just paid to enter. Sadly, these messages seem to have suddenly appeared with the popularity of theater shootings.
My first film post-Louisiana shooting was I’ll See You in My Dreams. A Blythe Danner rom-com about the life of a widowed lady. I attended the matinée which doesn’t seem to be a favorite of the movies shooters. Therefore, deemed safe because not only was it the wrong time of the day but it was also filled with senior citizens with me bringing the average age up considerably. I scanned the room for unsavory characters and found one soccer mom who I thought I knew and who talks a LOT so I avoided her. I then checked for young single white males to see if anyone fit the shooter profile. Only one male, approximately 74 years old, possibly from a cold state which I quickly assessed by his pasty white legs, average build and wearing a USS Navy hat. This could go either way. Nice patriotic, Vietnam War vet grandpa or radical military extremist. He smiled and waved to someone in the crowd. Whew. I categorized him as non-threatening.
My next film was Amy the award-winning documentary on the tragic life and death of Amy Winehouse. I attended the 4:20 show which is getting closer into the evening hours. For profiling purposes, this could be considered either matinee or evening show. Would a shooter choose the movie Amy for a killing spree? I think it is more likely a shooting kind of film in comparison to I’ll See You in My Dreams. F’ing hippie kids. They are the trouble with the country today. Or if the shooter is younger. These kids bullied me. Kind of seems like something a shooter would rationalize. The place was filled with hipsters of various ages. Most were couples with me being the only exception. Everyone was laughing and having fun. This is a tricky one. Are they all fun hipsters or is there a jittery mentally ill person lurking amongst the crowd? Colorado shooter James Holmes looked like a fun 20-something hipster too, until pics began showing the progression of illness in his eyes and then he dyed his hair orange. Unfortunately, we cannot see the illness in someone’s eyes in a dark movie theater.
Jimmy’s Hall was my next film of choice. Jimmy’s sin was to build a dance hall on the rural crossroads of Ireland during the brink of the Civil War. Jimmy’s Hall is a place where young people can come to learn, have fun, argue, grow emotionally and of course, dance. I went to the 9:10 showing — a bewitching hour for shooters. Insert crickets. Hmmmm, apparently nobody likes or hates the Irish because it’s just me in this theater. Alone, with no evidence of a shooter unless they pop out from the curtain. I think I have discovered the secret to not getting shot in a movie theater. Watch Irish period films where the actors have thick Irish accents that nobody can understand especially after having a few pints in a dance hall. Here’s to a long life and a merry one. A quick death and an easy one. A pretty girl and an honest one. A cold pint and another one! — an Irish saying.
Which brings me to my next film.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl seemed like one of those cute Indie films I would like, a little quirky like Moonrise Kingdom. I was also thinking about movie titles, subject, and how much weight they play in whether a shooter chooses one film over the next. Of course, trying to rationalize irrational behavior is a little pointless… right? And statistically, we can go into how much safer we are in a movie theater vs. an airplane or a car. We could rationalize it like that. But after the string of shootings there is something unnerving about being in the dark, in an enclosed theater, amongst a bunch of strangers. It used to not be an issue but now, unfortunately, it is. And due to safety and legal reasons, the theaters are now pointing out this new era requires us know how to exit in case of an emergency.
If we are analyzing titles and shootings, The Dark Knight Rises, Trainwreck, and Mad Max: Fury Road seem to have something in common. Shooters don’t typically rage a bloody war on Disney films, period pieces and Indie films. The diseased mind of the mentally ill seem to stick with the big budget films. That being said, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl seemed a little too prophetic for me. Therefore, I was a little apprehensive about going to movies even though I was attending a yet to be tainted matinee. I know what you are thinking. You are thinking I have an over-active imagination (yes, you are right. I do), I watch too much news, statistically we are safer….yada, yada, yada. All very true. But tell that to the people of Aurora, Colorado.
Anyway, on with the story. I walk into the theater late for the matinee. It’s an Indie film so it doesn’t get a large theater. It is a small little 50 person theater in the very back of the building. I walk in and it is filled to 50% capacity. The crowd is oddly dispersed. There really isn’t a good place for me to sneak in so I grab the furtherest handicap seat at the very back of the theater. Beside me is a 20-something single guy who is glued to his phone. As he flips through his phone screen he gives this wide sweeping movement which takes his bent elbow all the way to an outreached arm. This is really odd. So I keep my eye on him. The previews begin and since this is my fourth film I’ve seen them all so whatever was funny the first and second time is no longer funny the fourth. All of a sudden this guy loses it. He starts busting a gut laughing during the previews at moments that I didn’t even think were funny the first or second time I seen them. Now I am a little alarmed and on edge. Does everyone have to share my sense of humor? No, but this guy is behaving oddly. Not aggressively, but weird. I tell myself one more weird thing from this guy and I am leaving. And then just another minute later, he starts laughing at nothing. I mean literally nothing. We were right in the middle of the dead air between the first preview and the second when he busts out uncontrollably — again. And he isn’t talking to anyone on the phone, not reading a text. Nothing. He is just laughing at nothing.
So I grabbed my popcorn, my soda and my purse, and I left. I walked into the lobby and didn’t say a word to anyone and left through the front door. What was I to do? Stop and complain? What if I would’ve complained and the police got involved etc. The guy obviously wasn’t a shooter because I didn’t hear anything on the news. That wouldn’t have been good for anyone involved — but what if I would’ve been right? How would I feel about my decision today if there had been a shooting?
These are tough decisions and I am very happy I was wrong.
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