Posted by: joshjasper | July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

My brother Tom and I saw “The Dark Knight Rises” this past Saturday night.  Throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but think of the mass shooting that took place during the midnight showing of the same movie in Aurora, Colorado.

According to various reports, James Holmes entered the Colorado theater dressed in black and wearing a gas mask, a load-bearing vest and body armor,  including a ballistic helmet, bulletproof leggings, a throat protector, a groin protector and tactical gloves.  The masked gunman threw a smoke canister into the audience and then fired a 12-gauge shotgun, first at the ceiling and then at the audience.  He also fired a semi-automatic rifle with a 100-round drum magazine, which jammed, and he then used a handgun.  To date, 12 people have been killed, and 58 have been wounded.

Shortly after the shooting took place, news outlets around the country reported a variety of different prevention methods being employed.  For example,  the National Association of Theater Owners is in the process of evaluating security recommendations for its members.  Moviegoers wearing long sleeves, jackets, and backpacks were denied access to theaters across the country over night.

Calls for more gun control were heard throughout the nation.  The statistics often shared about gun ownership are staggering.  I recently read that we are considered to be the most heavily armed society in the world, with 90 guns for every 100 citizens.  Take a look at this image that has been circulating Facebook, raking up thousands of likes as of late:

I provide presentations throughout the country that explore the impact media has on our behavior.   There is no doubt that we are inundated with violence found in video games, the music industry, movies, television, and print advertising, to name just a few.  Make no mistake, we are impacted by this exposure and much work must be done to counter this negative influence.

With that said, none of what is mentioned above will EVER come close to effectively reducing, preventing, or even influencing violent acts like that of what took place in Colorado without the examination of the most dominant, obvious variable that is time and time again overlooked, dismissed, and denied.

Until we have a serious conversation about why young boys and men are time and time again committing these heinous crimes, any and all other prevention strategies will be rendered useless.  Imagine if the Columbine shooters, the Virginia Tech gunman, and now the Aurora gunman were all women.  Rest assured, we would focus solely on the gender of these perpetrators.  We would be asking ourselves why women are acting out so violently.  Can you even think of one mass shooting that took place in which the person behind the gun was a woman?  Don’t you find that odd?

Gender is the vital factor that must be explored.  How are we socializing men in our society?  What does it mean to be a real man and how does this flawed definition contribute to violence?  If what we are teaching boys about manhood has only to do with being tough, strong, aggressive, powerful, and emotionless, and then reinforce that gender stereotype in nearly every single movie, sitcom, and video game, how can we not expect to have some boys grow up to be men that are violent?

Look back at the image above.   Of course one “guy” in the crowd could have saved a lot of lives.   We are supposed to be the hero, the guy that stands up and protects others.  Reality is much different though, isn’t it?   Most often we are not the hero, but rather, the villain.


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