The country is sad today. What should have been an exciting day for all fans of comic books and the movies based on them is now marked by the kind of weariness that can only come from the enactment of a national tragedy.
Like with the last nationally significant article I wrote, about the January 18th internet blackout, there isn’t really much left to say about the event itself: An individual, allegedly 24 year old University of Colorado student James Holmes, entered a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” dressed in ballistics gear and opened fire, killing 12 and leaving 59 injured. Upon being apprehended, the suspect allegedly made claim that he was inspired by the films, making the claim that he himself was in fact The Joker.
All day my personal Facebook wall has been alight with news of the shooting with friends and acquaintances all bringing attention to the tragedy, and for a while, I struggled over whether or not I too was going to have something to say about it. I committed something pretty disappointing myself the moment I heard about the crime. I got on the threads of several of my friends and I made the statement “What is wrong with people in Colorado?” I was trying to indicate there has to be some civil unrest, or some element of the law in the state, like their current stance on gun control, (which is incidentally, stricter than it is in our home state of Texas) that was to blame for this tragedy.
The response to my comments however, were negative, and rightfully so. I respectfully agree with every response given to a statement like that, but the strange thing about it is, I agreed with all the statements made against me. Of course, this is an isolated incident, and the actions of a whole state cannot be blamed. I know that stereotyping a group doesn’t work to create a solution. I realize that raising flags like gun control won’t undo what’s already been done. I forgot that for a moment, though. I, like a lot of people are mentally working to make sense of the whole unfortunate circumstance.
So, after spending the entire morning lowering my personal reputation on Facebook, I remembered a similar incident earlier in my life: 9/11 happened when I was in my first semester of Community College, and while I was drawing a still life in one of our classes, another instructor I didn’t know, took our class aside and told us all to design posters expressing our feelings about the tragedy. Now, since I was just barely beginning art class, I didn’t think I had the skill or ability to make a real statement. Her only response was “Sometimes you have to stop being a student, and start being an artist."
I drew what turned out to be a graphite bleeding heart filled with fissures like a fault line with the planet Earth as its left ventricle on a piece of oddly torn butcher paper. It seemed corny to me then…It still does to me now, but nonetheless I learned a lesson: when something that happens that effects us all, we should all try to do what we can to make things better, even if it’s something as insignificant as giving away a day of art class.
So that’s why I finally made up my mind to write this, but more important than my decision is the message I want to send everyone:
Speculation, comments, discussions and debates on Facebook serve their own purpose, but when a tragedy like this happens it should make everyone want to get up and make everyone create something.
It doesn’t matter if it’s private or public, small or big…It just has to make a statement. Some artists are already doing this by creating fan-art and symbols like the Bat-Ribbon logo that have been appearing on Facebook. But there should be more. If you’re a cosplayer, a photographer, a gamer, a videographer, or a musician…If you make 3D models or plush dolls or even internet memes, you should put your feelings about the event in whatever form best suits you. If you can raise money for charity with what you do, by all means do so, but it’s not a requirement.
Some people are debating whether it’s appropriate that images of Batman should appear in these works: I say absolutely. After all, Batman is the ultimate symbol against the senseless and wanton perpetration of criminal acts like this. If this individual considers himself to be the Joker, then everyone who considers this to be wrong is, by all means, Batman.
What’s more important than the content of any of these works, however, is the message it sends: we do not approve of these sorts of actions. We do not want our community and our way of life beaten down by the act of one misguided individual who was inspired to commit murder and atrocity in a realm where we usually are inspired to uphold justice and what is right.
Just remember this quote from Batman: Absolution. “We impose meaning on the chaos of our lives. We create form, morality, order. It's a choice we have to make every second of every minute of every day.”