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Monday, July 23, 2012

Is It Time To Rethink Violent Entertainment Culture?

Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from the action thriller “The Dark Knight Rises.” (AP/Warner Bros. Pictures, Ron Phillips)

The shootings in Aurora, Colorado have many asking if there is a link between violent movies and gun violence.

Roger Ebert wrote in the New York Times that he doesn’t know if there’s a connection.

James Holmes, who opened fire before the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises,” could not have seen the movie. Like many whose misery is reflected in violence, he may simply have been drawn to a highly publicized event with a big crowd. In cynical terms, he was seeking a publicity tie-in. He was like one of those goofballs waving in the background when a TV reporter does a stand-up at a big story.

But Boston Globe Film critic Ty Burr thinks it may be time for a conversation about violence in entertainment, and the mentality of fans of these films.

Let’s be clear about this: James Holmes is not the poster child for anything but the sickness in his head. Yet it’s difficult, at this point, to fully separate the act of a single deranged man from the all-encompassing mania this series engenders in a surprising number of people. For millions, “The Dark Knight Rises” is just a movie (and, to this critic, a very good one). For a vocal contingent on the fringes, it’s much more — a film that has to be perfect for the world to make any sense at all.

Earlier in the week, the popular movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes suspended user comments for “The Dark Knight Rises” because fans were directing multiple death threats and rape threats at critics who had dared to give the film less than a perfect grade. Reviewers like the Associated Press’s Christy Lemire and movie blogger Marshall Fine were promised physical extinction for daring to not like a movie that those posting the threats hadn’t even seen.


  • Ty Burr, Boston Globe film critic

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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