I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a film or work of art that in any way glorifies child rape. I’ve never seen any context in which sexually assaulting a child is viewed favorably. Given our overwhelming disapproval of such acts, it makes perfect sense that when they occur we are genuinely outraged and shocked. What is less clear is how we justify that same outrage and shock over senseless acts of violence; acts we constantly glamorize, glorify and celebrate in our everyday lives.
What happened in Aurora, Colorado was an absolute tragedy. A gunman opened fire at a midnight premier of the new movie, The Dark Knight Rises. 70 people were shot and of those, 12 were killed. Certainly our thoughts and prayers extend to the victims and their families first and foremost. After this, we must think critically about this tragedy and ask ourselves some tough questions.
In the first place, we must seriously ask ourselves whether we, as a nation, still have the moral authority to be outraged when there is gun violence. Let me be clear: I’m not speaking of the victims or their families; I’m talking to the rest of us. Can we truly be outraged? We are outraged by the child rapist, for we in no way celebrate his actions nor do we lend them our support. However, over the weekend we all paid to sit and watch a Batman movie loaded with violence from start to finish. We clapped, cheered and celebrated every bloody, violent moment. After celebrating violence, can we be outraged when it manifests in the real world?
My point is not that violent movies and video games cause violence. Neither am I arguing that somehow we are bad people for going to see Batman. What I am suggesting, however, is there is an inconsistency in our thinking. Once again, no one celebrates the child rapist in movies, music or anywhere else. Therefore, it seems completely logical that we should be outraged and shocked when a child is raped. Yet we glorify violence in our music, movies and our choices of entertainment (think MMA etc.). We love it. It is only when that which we glorify pays a personal, human visit that we abhor it.
Perhaps if we treated murder and gun violence the way we treated pedophilia the matter would be less confusing. Under those conditions, it would make sense that we reject acts of violence when they occur. Until that time, yes, it is somewhat perplexing that we constantly enjoy and crave blood but reject it when it comes. Batman, violent video games and sports are not responsible for what happened in Aurora. One lone gunman pulled the trigger. Even so, as a nation we provided the perpetrator with the notion that there was some admirable and redeeming quality to that which he did. When we admire hyper masculinity, violence and gun play, we should ask ourselves when it really happens, “are you not entertained?”