Just as 9/11 forever changed the way we (and the government) look at airports and airport security, so the theater shooing in Aurora this past week threatens to do the same for our entertainment venues.
Theater owners and associations of theater owners are making public condolences and investigating ways to beef up security in their theaters, but how much of that toothpaste is already out of the tube? Movies have always been a form of escapism - people go to the theater to sit in the dark and dream other people's dreams, and to forget about their own situation for an hour or two. The word "amusement", in fact, comes from the Greek, where the privative "a", (as in "atheist - one who believes there is no God), comes in front of "muse" - to think. Literally "to be amused" is to stop one's thinking.
From the Dark Knight Rises trailers, we see a bridge being destroyed and a football stadium, filled with onlookers, as the field literally disappears from under the feet of the players, but, everyone in the theater knows that ultimately, it's not real. It's a trick of the camera or computer. Computer generated images (CGI) combined with intricately detailed scale models create a world that can be destroyed without anyone ever getting hurt! So the guy with the dead end job (or no job), goes to the theater, and says to himself, "Yeah, I may have it bad, but look! They're trying to kill that poor SOB!"
Fast forward a couple of weeks. You walk into the theater and you see an armed, uniformed guard in the lobby. Feel safer? The Aurora shooter came in the back door. How many guards do you think it would take to adequately guard every movie theater, mall and stadium in the country against that kind of intrusion?
And if you could get enough guys, they aren't working for minimum wage, so that would get added to the cost of your movie ticket, the price of which already has many people balking and seeking out different forms of entertainment.
Answer me honestly, the next time you go to the movies, as you enter the theater, will you be noting where the exits are a little more carefully than before? The first gunshot that explodes on the screen, as the character looks around to see where it came from, how many in the audience will be looking around to see where it came from, too? Anyone ever get up during a movie to go to the concession stand, answer a phone, or hit the head? Which gets more of your attention now: the movie, or weak bladder guy?
Even though the shooting in a Colorado theater was an aberration, and might never happen again, how many people do you think will feel a little uneasy over sitting in a dark room with that many strangers? How many do you think will want to opt for a DVD and a dead bolt on their own front door instead?
Oh, and if I haven't totally soured your next movie going experience yet, one last thought:
If they do hired armed security to patrol inside the theater? The Aurora shooter had a clean criminal record except for one speeding ticket. There's nothing that would have prevented him from getting the job himself.
Save the aisle seat for me!
Cross posted at LCR.