Murder and the Breach of Trust

 

shutterstock_141495676As you’ve likely heard, some monster in Lafayette, Louisiana went into a movie theater last night, murdered two people, and injured eight more before killing himself.

Much has been written — deservedly so, I think — of the sacrilege and perversity of the way Dylann Roof abused the welcome and hospitality offered by the Bible study group in Charleston before he murdered them. That evil is, of course, mere flourish on the crime of taking eight lives — and attempting to adjudicate it is a waste of time — but it’s significant and real nonetheless.

But, as Alyssa Rosenberg writes in today’s Washington Post, what happened last night also involves a huge violation of trust on top of the murder:

When you go to a movie theater, you are deciding to sit for two hours in the dark with dozens, even hundreds of people, you don’t know. Unlike on a plane, or even in a live theater or concert performance, to name other captive experiences that put us in close proximity with strangers, there often aren’t paid staff in the theater with you, watching for disruptions or quietly managing other people’s behavior. Often, if you’re polite, and if you want to give yourself fully over to the experience unfolding on the screen, you’ve turned off your phone, putting another step between yourself and calling for help if it should suddenly prove necessary.

Once the lights go down and the previews (and pre-previews, sadly) come up, we’re giving ourselves over not just to the conditions of the movie theater, but to the story on screen. … Whatever divides us before we take our plushly cushioned stadium seats or our places in community theater chairs worn thin by decades of showings, we’ve been drawn together by the same story. And that story will continue to unite us, at least for a little while, as we spill back into the bright heat of summer daylight, or the cool of the evening, and talk about what we’ve just seen.

This is why I always love going to theaters. I mean, sure, you can lure me in almost anywhere with promises of air-conditioning and popcorn (however overpriced), but it’s that bizarrely focused, communal experience that always gets me. There’s nothing like laughing along with, or holding your breath at the same time as, a roomful of other people there to enjoy themselves for much the same reason as yourself. As great as home theaters can be, they can’t provide that experience.

If you get a chance this weekend, go see a movie (or a live play, if you prefer); I plan to. We can’t let the occasional maniac or villian ruin our fun.

There are 27 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: Much has been written — deservedly so, I think — of the sacrilege and perversity of the way Dylann Roof abused the welcome and hospitality offered by the Bible study group in Charleston before he murdered them. That evil is, of course, mere flourish on the crime of taking eight lives — and attempting to adjudicate it is a waste of time — but it’s significant and real nonetheless.

    What struck me about this was that he realized it.  He said he almost stopped because “everybody was so nice.”  He knew.

    • #1
  2. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    I’m surprised that the federal government hasn’t expanded the TSA’s jurisdiction to include movie theatres.

    • #2
  3. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy:I’m surprised that the federal government hasn’t expanded the TSA’s jurisdiction to include movie theatres.

    If they don’t, the theaters will.

    I think the megaplexes–I think that’s the word for those huge movie theaters that can show several movies simultaneously–are the most vulnerable.

    I thought it myself a few times sitting in them. In the olden days, there was just one or possibly two rooms, and there was a projectionist and management people walking around. I’ve often thought that the new business model was vulnerable. No one from management is in sight.

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: If you get a chance this weekend, go see a movie (or a live play, if you prefer); I plan to. We can’t let the occasional maniac or villian ruin our fun.

    The biggest worry will be the people who will start demanding metal detectors and pat-downs before entering a movie theater. (And how am I supposed to sneak in food that way?)  (EDIT: Ninja’d by Misthio)

    But no . . . I’m not joking. The fearmongers will convince us to turn movie theaters into the equivalent of airplane travel, complete with gloved TSA agents.

    As if the cost of tickets and concessions already didn’t keep me away, such a move will definitely get me improving my home theater set-up.

    • #4
  5. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: If you get a chance this weekend, go see a movie (or a live play, if you prefer); I plan to. We can’t let the occasional maniac or villian ruin our fun.

    Soon as I find me one that isn’t a gun-free zone.

    • #5
  6. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    I remember going to the movies to see “The Dark Knight Rises” shortly after the Colorado shooting.  I think I looked around before the lights went out for anyone who looked suspicious (not that I would know anyway).  And then I got angry.  In addition to the lives directly affected by the shooter, as a collateral matter, he spoiled people’s ability to go out and do something fun for a few hours without having to worry about the problems of the world.  Obviously this is not to diminish the suffering of those who were targeted or their loved ones.  But there is something about it that is like spitting on the whole idea of enjoyment itself.

    • #6
  7. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    I have only been to 2 movies in the past 15 or 20 years, so doubt I’ll ever step foot into a theater again.

    • #7
  8. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    One of my local theaters posts signs “No Open Carry.”

    I’m fine with that.

    • #8
  9. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: There’s nothing like laughing along with, or holding your breath at the same time as, a roomful of other people there to enjoy themselves for much the same reason as yourself. As great as home theaters can be, they can’t provide that experience.

    Huh. This is a big reason why I do NOT go to theaters often.

    I enjoy myself (or not) regardless of what the people around me do. I neither seek their confirmation, nor desire to be swept along by a crowd.

    • #9
  10. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    TG:One of my local theaters posts signs “No Open Carry.”

    I’m fine with that.

    Oh gosh. I always assumed that meant beer.

    • #10
  11. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    iWe:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: There’s nothing like laughing along with, or holding your breath at the same time as, a roomful of other people there to enjoy themselves for much the same reason as yourself. As great as home theaters can be, they can’t provide that experience.

    Huh. This is a big reason why I do NOT go to theaters often.

    I enjoy myself (or not) regardless of what the people around me do. I neither seek their confirmation, nor desire to be swept along by a crowd.

    Huh. The book is slightly dated, but may I recommend A Year at the Movies, by MST3K’s Kevin Murphy if you want to read a very cool book about movie-going as a communal experience.

    • #11
  12. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    It might mean beer in Wisconsin, Drew.  :)

    • #12
  13. user_989419 Inactive
    user_989419
    @ProbableCause

    I enjoy the communal experience, except for these movie stereotypes.

    • #13
  14. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    If we get to the point of metal detectors, it’ll be because the theater chains and insurance companies make a deal, not because of federal bullying. Israel has these measures in place. I don’t want to see us have to do the same, but if it happens it’s not evidence that we’re turning into a police state.

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    TG:One of my local theaters posts signs “No Open Carry.”

    I’m fine with that.

    See, now, I’ve always preferred open carry to concealed carry.

    If people are packing heat, I’d prefer to know about it.

    ;-)

    • #15
  16. TG Thatcher
    TG
    @TG

    That’s a perfectly reasonable stance, Misthio.  If you lived here, and you felt strongly enough about it, you could choose whether or not to patronize that movie theater, or find one with no position on the issue, or find one that declares itself a gun-free zone.  The market will sort it out.

    • #16
  17. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Going to a movie just isn’t the same since every local theater changed ownership and they all now serve Pepsi instead of Coke.  And no Dr. Pepper, either!  Plus I can make better popcorn at home.

    • #17
  18. iWc Coolidge
    iWc
    @iWe

    Randy Weivoda:Plus I can make better popcorn at home.

    Much better.

    • #18
  19. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Gary McVey: Israel has these measures in place. I don’t want to see us have to do the same…

    Nobody does, but it might come to that, especially if Islamic attacks ever start focusing on such soft targets as movie theaters, malls, and schools.

    • #19
  20. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @KermitHoffpauir

    I’ve never lived there but it is my home.  Both of my parents are from Laffy.  My mother’s family founded the city, originally named Vermillionville.  My grandfather put the cross on top of St. John’s Cathedral as a 16 year old carpenter apprentice (he was the lightest man on the jobsite and easiest to hoist up).

    You will not find a friendlier place in the U.S. nor will you find more restaurants per capita (not counting fast food) than Lafayette.  There is also seemingly a genetic makeup to the natives that makes them successful entrepeneurs even with a high school education.

    • #20
  21. user_2505 Contributor
    user_2505
    @GaryMcVey

    Kermit, thanks for the personal insight.

    • #21
  22. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Laws cannot prevent something from happening. The laws of physics cannot prevent something happening. My middle brother (not Brian) has quite a few hours as a private pilot. He would call my mom and dad and describe his latest flight and then say: “I cheated death again.” Mom hated that phrase. On my time on the street as a police officer I saw death come for those who didn’t deserve death and I saw it come for those that did. My phrase was: “Fate is the hunter.” Offhand and somewhat cynical. I just do not know of any other way to describe it, much less how to explain it. All I can offer is my condolences and I’ll listen in silence as they describe and mourn their lost loved ones. If they ask me why I have no answer.

    • #22
  23. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Saw Jurassic World this evening: Bryce Dallas Howard has to do everything Chris Pratt does, just in heels (not sure about the backwards thing).

    • #23
  24. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Doug Watt:Laws cannot prevent something from happening. The laws of physics cannot prevent something happening. My middle brother (not Brian) has quite a few hours as a private pilot. He would call my mom and dad and describe his latest flight and then say: “I cheated death again.” Mom hated that phrase. On my time on the street as a police officer I saw death come for those who didn’t deserve death and I saw it come for those that did. My phrase was: “Fate is the hunter.” Offhand and somewhat cynical. I just do not know of any other way to describe it, much less how to explain it. All I can offer is my condolences and I’ll listen in silence as they describe and mourn their lost loved ones. If they ask me why I have no answer.

    United States Marine E. B. Sledge described his unit’s status battling the Japanese from island to island across the Pacific as “fugitives from the law of averages.”

    • #24
  25. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: If you get a chance this weekend, go see a movie (or a live play, if you prefer); I plan to. We can’t let the occasional maniac or villian ruin our fun.

    Soon as I find me one that isn’t a gun-free zone.

    It’s called concealed carry for a reason.

    • #25
  26. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:Saw Jurassic World this evening: Bryce Dallas Howard has to do everything Chris Pratt does, just in heels (not sure about the backwards thing).

    Coulda been a good movie. Instead we get people doing irrational things simply to make the movie go. Even there, it seems that no one really knew where they wanted the movie to go. Disappointing.

    • #26
  27. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Ball Diamond Ball:

    Doug Watt:Laws cannot prevent something from happening. The laws of physics cannot prevent something happening. My middle brother (not Brian) has quite a few hours as a private pilot. He would call my mom and dad and describe his latest flight and then say: “I cheated death again.” Mom hated that phrase. On my time on the street as a police officer I saw death come for those who didn’t deserve death and I saw it come for those that did. My phrase was: “Fate is the hunter.” Offhand and somewhat cynical. I just do not know of any other way to describe it, much less how to explain it. All I can offer is my condolences and I’ll listen in silence as they describe and mourn their lost loved ones. If they ask me why I have no answer.

    United States Marine E. B. Sledge described his unit’s status battling the Japanese from island to island across the Pacific as “fugitives from the law of averages.”

    This.

    • #27

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.