MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

A Shooting In Our Church

I got out of the house today. Hung out with some friends who didn’t really talk about the shootings in the Colorado theater. I laughed. I told stories. I heard stories.

But coming home, I was hit again by the wave of sadness coming from these events. You see, for me, it’s not just another of the rage mass murders that are occurring with shockingly increased frequent in this country. It is not as personal for me as it is for anyone who was there, anyone within 50 miles, anyone who has survived a living nightmare like this one, or even anyone who was in a movie theater watching The Dark Knight Rises last night and takes “it could have been me” strongly to heart. I can only see the light reflected off of their very personal pain and fear.

But as an individual who works – however peripherally you see journalists as being – in the movie business, this is someone coming into our chosen church and killing people who were not only sharing the communal experience that is so much a part of so many of our lives. It was a massacre of some of the most enthusiastic members of the movie loving community.

The only difference between this mass killing and someone opening fire inside the Academy Theater or a screening room full of critics is the boldfaced names and news angle.

The movies are certainly not the new home of rage killers. Schools and fast food restaurants seem to lead the pack. But the frequency of these events seems to be increasing. This is the second effort at a rage killing this year, though thankfully the other one – a week ago in Tuscaloosa, AL – ended up taking no lives. There were three last year… 4, 6, and 8 dead… killers in their 20s, 30s, and 40s… no ethnic consistency. There were none in 2010, but 4 in 2009, taking 34 lives.

Those claiming there is nothing political to discuss here are, simply, wrong. But this entry is not about politics.

Every one of these events is like a punch to the solar plexus. But the recovery time, in a busy world with things to do and places to be, distanced from the events, has gotten quicker, even as the frequency of such events has increased. We, as a group, have gotten a little more used to these reports… a little more calloused.

But like the plane that crashed into a building just 4 blocks away from where I type, this event, somehow, feels closer to home. When I recall big personal losses in my life, my sense memory is of numbness… not being able to really listen, really think of other things too clearly, and not really caring. Hundreds of people are feeling that today because of this incident. I feel a level of it as I sit here, safe in front of my computer, screening tonight, interviews tomorrow, but agitated and sad… more than I usually do at these times.

And I feel no patience for business as usual. Not for the innocent byproducts of the daily work schedule, whether new reviews or cute podcasts. And certainly not for those trying to capitalize on this for their own aggrandizement. I don’t want to try to figure out what this will mean to the weekend gross or to pick at the efforts of the exhibitors, distributors, or journalists to process this horror show. I don’t want to moderate comments or worry about who is going to think what of this entry. I don’t want to use this sadness as a launching pad to get into intellectual debates.

I kinda just want to go to the movies… and all that it means.

Be Sociable, Share!

20 Responses to “A Shooting In Our Church”

  1. Keoki says:

    I feel the same way, Thanks Dave.

  2. bulldog68 says:

    I saw Dark Knight on Wednesday night at an advanced screening. Now while I live Canada, very far away from this tragic incident, for some reason I feel compelled to see it again this weekend. Just to make a personal statement that I will not be intimidated into not wanting to go to a theater.

  3. JKill says:

    A shooting in our church is the same way I thought of it, too. My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

  4. Fitzgerald says:

    Beautifully said, David.

  5. christian says:

    Very nice.

  6. etguild2 says:

    Well said Dave.

  7. JS Partisan says:

    Damn right. Nobody fucks with a movie theater, it’s sacred ground, and this has enraged mas as much as it has numbed me.

  8. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Amen, Dave.

  9. Patryk says:

    Eloquent and precise. Thanks for expressing what so many of us feel.

  10. Beate says:

    Thanks for this comment to which I was directed by a Twitter link.
    When I saw the headline, my first thought was: “What, another shooting?” – then I surprisedly realized that your ‘church’ are the movies, and then, that, without having grasped it that way, for the last few years it has been mine, too, with the movies I saw being the only ‘events’ that have really touched me for the last few years, with ‘Hollywood’, in the widest sense, while constantly looked down upon, being the one place coming up with truly inspiring, creative approaches, while politics is the usual bore. (My main reason for joining Twitter was to somehow connect to there).
    Sure, high-brow critics look down on all the superhero stuff, but while the decorations surely are not realistic, the bottom issue is: What is the appropriate way to live in this world? Wasn’t Batman’s basic motive to do something about the type of world in which his parents were gunned down when leaving a show for a few minutes?
    I’ve never been a comics fan, but although ‘Smallville’ may be naive – and far too beautiful to watch to be realistic – it touched me like few other things and caused me to come out of hiding.
    Sorry for not saying more on the shootings – but what else is there to say? (As a European, I felt similarly shocked about the Norway shootings last year, with Norway being as close to a peaceful and socially responsible country as humanly possible; and the Winnenden shootings because it was nearby and I have a teenage son).
    I just want to quote one Twitter entry I really liked:
    “Can I just say that I’m so grateful for all the people who have reason to go ballistic but don’t…instead keep peace & do positive things.” (by Rodene Ronquillo)

  11. berg says:

    I saw the film wed in imax, and all I want to talk about is the shot in the first 30-minutes where (in imax mind) you see the fuselage of the plane falling below the stunt performers hanging in the air, that and the introspective mid-section that takes place in a prison that could only exist in a Tarsem film

  12. brack says:

    I guess I need a new hobby if going to the movies is like going to church. But then again I find church in general boring.

  13. christian says:

    Like the cine-transcendence of 2001 is “boring.”

  14. brack says:

    I don’t even know what that means, but I’m okay with that.

  15. Don R. Lewis says:

    I’m with you berg. I’ve never been so excited to talk about a film only to have literally negative desire to even think about it 20 minutes later. Nicely written piece, Dave.

  16. Stephen Holt says:

    Beautifully put, David. Thank you.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    This is so well written, I’m going to steal from it. Well, OK, not steal, but link to it.

  18. Randy Brooks says:

    I love movies, hate his actions but invite you to go to a real church. You’ll soon see that real people are in a real church. In a movie, as has been said, nothing is real. You have actors, and the actions in Colorado had real consequences for those involved. You trivialized this disaster.

  19. Paul D/Stella says:

    The people attending the movie are real.

  20. David O'Beirne says:

    Very well said, Dave

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon