There are better things that I’d rather be arguing about. That’s the sentiment I feel every single time some random jerk with a gun flies off the handle starts shooting people while shouting comic book quotes. Every time, it seems like emphasis is placed on what could have been done to prevent a tragedy. Should we limit guns? Are comics and video games too violent? What about movies and TV shows? What happened to the good old days where no one used guns except for the hunting of deer, only during approved government established hunting times? What is our government going to do to stop this from happening again?
The intent of this article is not to trivialize the recent events in Aurora, Colorado. My prayers and deepest condolences go out to all of the victims and their families. My point is to talk about the violence we see in movies and comics and games each year, in a desperate bid for us to start placing the blame for these horrors on the individuals that cause them, and not on the usual scapegoats.
Let’s talk about comics first, shall we? I’m a big fan of those. Actually, before real world events intervened, my original post for this week was going to be of Michael Allred’s Madman. My point with comics is this: they have always glorified violence. Even back in the golden (or is it the silver?) age of comics, when stories were peppered with liberal helpings of “jeepers” and “golly gosh,” comics have always depicted gigantic, massive, life ending catastrophes. Sure, back in those days these events were largely thwarted by the hero-du-jour, but in order to keep those old books exciting and entertaining, every so often someone is going to have to get mortally wounded, irradiated, or shot.
If you go back far enough, the violence has always been there as entertainment. The Three Stooges operated entirely through a brutal brand of slapstick that was unheard of for their time. And the further back you go, the more brutal the entertainment got, until you’re at the doorstep of gladiator combat and stonings.
That’s the sad fact of it. Violence has been entertaining the masses for hundreds of years. In the case of comics, well, their readers grew up and comics had to grow up with them. Before long, the violence was getting horrifically detailed, and those pure, upstanding heroes were showing weakness, doubt, and anger themselves. People wanted heroes that they can relate to, after all. Everyone has at least one major hangup. Everyone has at least one weakness. People stopped wanting an unrelatable, golden boy Superman, so DC did the only logical thing they could: they killed him off in a huge fight with a space monster, and then brought him back with 90s hair.
But that’s really it. Comics are a niche audience. I don’t read the massively syndicated comics much myself, though that’s due to other reasons that really have no point in this article. More people now watch movies, TV and play games than those who religiously follow comics. The current state of comics exist because that’s what society started to expect from them. DC and Marvel reboot their universes so often you’d think it was a broken Nintendo cartridge. Most of these reboots solely exist so they can try new things with characters and undo unpopular decisions. After all, if no one is buying comics, then there wouldn’t be any reason to print them now would there?
Video games and TV aren’t off the hook here, either, but they have fallen under the same umbrella. If a game like, oh say Call of Duty offends everyone, why are people not instead playing just Sesame Street’s ever popular Once Upon a Monster and Animal Crossing? The answer, of course is that the violence makes games exciting. Whereas children’s games may have once been enough, we’ve grown up and our tastes have too. There’s no going back now.
So, what could have been done to prevent the Aurora shootings? Not… a heck of a lot. People are crazy. Not everyone who plays video games, reads comics and watches R rated movies are going to become a mass murderer. But every now and then, someone will. And after the tragedy has occurred, they will invariably try to find something else to pin it on, be it either the devil, Grand Theft Auto, or the Joker. But when it comes down to it, none of those things are to blame. Aurora was the result of one man who went completely off the deep end. He should be the recipient of all the blame and the pointed fingers. If you can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, odds are there is something wrong.
Should we put more restrictions on guns, or increase security at movie theaters? Hell, why don’t we just put a psych evaluation station on each street corner? No, those are issues for the politicians to work out. In my own personal opinion, though, if someone gets it in their head to do something incredibly horrible, and there are no guns to work with, they will find another way. What’s next? Do we ban knives? Household chemicals? Replace all metal pipes with shatter prone plastic?
Keep the blame on those who are responsible, and lets move efforts away from finger pointing to getting help to the families of the victims, and toward programs for those disturbed minds who are hovering on the edge can tap into before things get really bad. We have better things to be arguing about.