Dear Mr. Hurt:
You recently penned an open letter addressed to director Christopher Nolan, actor Sean Penn, and Warner Brothers Pictures. While I am not associated with, nor do I speak for, any of the intended recipients, I feel compelled to take advantage of the nature of an open letter and write my own open response.
Saying the shooting was “carried out almost precisely from the scripts” of Christopher Nolan’s films is wildly inaccurate and would indicate that you yourself have never seen any of the movies in question. Having seen all of Nolan’s films, I can confidently state that not a single one contains a scene that has any parallels whatsoever with the shooting. As a matter of fact, though I can’t claim to have seen every movie ever made, I have seen a great deal of them, and I’m drawing a blank when trying to think of a movie that features a shootout in a theater. The closest in my mind is the apprehension of Lee Harvey Oswald at a theater in JFK, which was a historical event (though one does wonder what movies Oswald saw that inspired him to assassinate John Kennedy).
You attack Nolan for sharing his thoughts on the Aurora, Colorado shooting, and his belief that “the mere words of the English language […] are simply not up to the task of describing them,” which I believe to be a mischaracterization of the intent of his statement. I imagine his intent was to show support and solidarity for the victims of the tragedy; to let them know that, while no words can correctly describe or diminish the depth of their suffering, those associated with the film share their grief and are keeping them in their thoughts and prayers. While this may seem like a meaningless gesture to you, I believe some level of comfort is bestowed upon the victims, knowing that high-profile celebrities – people we often view as larger-than-life entities – have also been touched by this terrible event.
You also mention statements issued by “half-rate actors,” presumably referring to members of the Dark Knight Rises cast who released statements in response to the shooting. While the quality of an actor’s work can be rather subjective, I think it worth mentioning that the top-billed members of the Dark Knight Rises cast have 15 Academy Award nominations and 5 wins between them.
Though I’m no fan of Sean Penn, I’m puzzled by his inclusion in your letter. Yes, the trailer for his film Gangster Squad, which includes a scene of a shootout in a movie theater, appeared before screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, it’s a stretch to say it depicts “orgiastic bloodshed,” considering there isn’t a single on-screen appearance of blood throughout the entire trailer. And while I would agree there are similarities between the scene in question and the actual events that occurred in Colorado, I would argue there are just as many differences; to my knowledge, the suspect is neither a member of the Mafia, nor is he a gangster living in 1949, and is not alleged to have used a Tommy Gun in the shooting.
You criticize these individuals by saying that they are the “inspiration” and the “architects” of the Colorado massacre. This is patently absurd. Christopher Nolan and Sean Penn’s films can no more be accused of inspiring the shooting than the Pirates of the Caribbean films can be accused of inciting Somali pirates. If movies were a common and direct basis for real-life events, Knocked Up, The Terminator, and Ghostbusters would be responsible for rashes of unplanned pregnancies, shootings at police stations, and startups of businesses focusing on paranormal investigations and eliminations, respectively. But you take it a step further, saying that Nolan and Penn have “inspired mass murder” and that they combine to form “the Osama bin Laden of this travesty.” It is not only insane but borderline offensive to compare the acts of a single alleged shooter – James Holmes, whom you do not mention a single time in your entire letter – to the leader of a group of international terrorists responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 Americans.
Four times in your article you mention that one of the victims was a 6-year-old girl. While tragic, I fail to see how the ages of any of the victims are the concern of your addressees. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film ratings are designed to notify potential moviegoers of the content that can be expected when seeing a particular film. The Dark Knight Rises received a PG-13 rating, which indicates that parents are “strongly cautioned” that “some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.” For this film, the MPAA cited “intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language” as reasoning for the rating.
It is not my desire to point fingers or assign blame, but if you’re concerned about why a child of that age was present at the midnight release of a movie featuring the content mentioned above, I would first question the girl’s parents.
In closing, you refer to The Dark Knight Rises as a “snuff film,” indicating that you don’t understand the definition of the snuff film, nor the fact that the existence of a genuine snuff film has never been confirmed.
Overall, I find it incredibly ironic that the Dark Knight film trilogy should be singled out and subjected to blame for a mass murder. After all, Batman has only one rule: no killing.
Everyone has the right to their own opinion, Mr. Hurt. I just wish that yours was rooted more in facts than in broad mischaracterizations, misappropriated blame, and hyperbole.