Entertainment Violence — When Is It Too Early For Business As Usual‏?

We may never know why the alleged lone gunman ambushed the movie theater showing the latest Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” (“TDKR”) in Aurora, Colorado, last Friday morning shooting 70 people and killing 12 of them.  That shooting spree is now the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.

This blog is not about the Second Amendment.  I’ve already voiced my opinion about that in previous blogs.

The bottom line is that regardless of whatever laws we have in place in America, bad people or people suffering from mental illnesses can get weapons and go on shooting or murderous rampages that turn into tragedies like the one in Aurora, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and the list goes on.

Last Friday, while families were still trying to find out if their loved ones were safe, at area hospitals, or if they were one of the victims, speculation began over what prompted the alleged mass murderer, James Holmes, to gun down so many people.

Some media outlets correlated the shootings with the 1986 “The Dark Knight Rises” comic book.  There will be other theories of how the world of entertainment, whether it’s violence in the songs we hear, the movies or television shows we watch, or the books that we read, played a role.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, some movies were delayed several months because of story lines involving terrorist plots or bombs on planes and some movies were edited to remove the World Trade Center, acts that referenced terrorism, or planes flying near buildings.

We’re already feeling the effects from the Aurora, Colorado, shootings.  Some movie promos for “TDKR” have been pulled from television in some cities, and Warner Bros. asked that the trailer to “Gangster Squad” (due in theaters September 7, 2012) be dropped before “TDKR” because there is a scene of a mass shooting of a movie theater audience with automatic weapons.

I fully understand the decision about dropping the previews to “Gangster Squad” or, at least, editing that scene from the trailer.  But, how soon is too soon to write or sing songs about acts of gun violence, showing people being gunned down in movies or on television shows, or even writing books that detail that aggression?

While I don’t know the answer to that question, I know what I feel in my heart.  I honestly know that the families of those that were killed or injured and those that escaped the madness physically unhurt have more on their minds right now that what is happening in the world of entertainment.  They are dealing with shock, sadness, and fear.

I can’t imagine that the movie companies decision to withhold box office results Sunday “out of respect” for the families really gave them that much solace.  I don’t think knowing whether “TDKR” broke any box office records this weekend is on their mind.

When my mother died on November 7, 1990, the last thing I thought about was the advanced sneak preview of “Home Alone” that upcoming weekend and its box office release the next weekend.  As funny as the movie looked prior to my mother’s death, it didn’t matter to me afterwards and I didn’t see until it was released on video the following year.

I can’t tell you anything else that happened the week after Miss ABBA, my golden retriever, died this past February.

Please don’t take what I’m writing out of context.  I feel for the families in Colorado although I didn’t know them.  I can’t imagine the pain they’re feeling knowing that their loved ones were out for a night of fun and excitement and now some of them will never know how the Batman trilogy ended and their families are planning funerals and praying that their hospitalized loved ones will recover.

However, I don’t think that we should begin editing every thing that is being released in the next few months.  As I said before, the families of those injured and killed could probably care less about music, movies, books, and concerts at this time or for a long to time to come.

I’m writing this because the first thing in the entertainment world that came to mind was Madonna’s “MDNA Tour” that is currently playing in Europe.  It makes its North American debut in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 28, 2012.

In the “Transgression” segment of the concert, guns play a very integral part in the third and fourth songs in the show, “Revolver” and “Gang Bang”.  This show was developed well before the Colorado shootings and it debuted in Tel Aviv, Israel, on May 31, 2012.

Sunday night, on its homepage, msn.com had a headline to grab your attention, “Singer brings guns on stage for show” and then it asked in the story, “Was Madonna edgy or just plain insensitive?”  Remember, this exact show has been going on for months.  This wasn’t something that she did the night after the Colorado shootings in Scotland to garner attention.

In England, Mothers Against Guns told the Daily Record, “Madonna and her dancers using replica guns was always in bad taste but given what happened in Colorado it is even worse.  She should know better.”

While this could apply to any genre of entertainment, I’ll focus on Madonna since the tour is coming to United States and it will be in Denver, Colorado, on October 18, 2012, less than three months after the Aurora movie massacre.

So, while the “MDNA Tour” will have been visited 33 cities across Asia and Europe before its late August North American debut, should it be altered in the United States?

For those of you unfamiliar with the song “Gang Bang”, from the deluxe edition of Madonna’s latest album, “MDNA”, here’s a sample of the lyrics, “And Then I Discovered It Couldn’t Get Worse/You Were Building My Coffin/You Were Driving My Hearse/Bang Bang (Shot You Dead)/Bang Bang (In the Head)/Bang Bang, Shot You Dead/Shot My Lover In the Head/Bang Bang, Shot You Dead/Now I Have No Regret”.

It’s a very violent song, but definitely a stand out on the “MDNA” album.  In concert, the onstage dramatization is even more visual.

I can separate reality from entertainment.  I know when I see “Dexter” kill bad guys on the Showtime series that it’s not real and that I cannot go out and do the same thing.  I know when Madonna sings about killing an ex-lover and dramatizes it live on stage on tour that it’s not reality.  However, some people can’t do that.  Luckily, for us, that is a much smaller number.

I don’t want Madonna to drop “Gang Bang” her from highly choreographed show when it comes to North America.  I want to see the tour as it was developed and orchestrated despite the tragedy in Colorado.

But, even with that being said, I’m really torn about the Denver concert in October.  Hardcore Madonna fans that bought tickets already know about the gun play and the depicted violence.  Some of them, maybe a large number of them, may feel uneasy about it now.  Will three months be enough time for people to heal?  I’m not sure, but I’m thinking, no.

Should that show just be cancelled?  Should “Revolver” and “Gang Bang” be dropped from that one concert?  Or, should Madonna perform those songs in Denver and then likely be accused of being “insensitive”?

What are your thoughts?

Anthony

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