Movie Fanatic Round Table: How Should Hollywood Respond to Tragedy?

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For the latest edition of the Movie Fanatic Round Table, we convene the best and brightest in Hollywood to discuss how Hollywood has responded to the horrible tragedy at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last Friday.

Movie Fanatic Round Table Pic

Our Movie Fanatic discussion this week is solely centered on the theater shooting in Aurora and the horror there that claimed 12 lives at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. As the nation heads to the movie houses for the first weekend since the tragedy, we wonder:

What should Hollywood’s response to the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado be?

Eric Eisenberg,
Hollywood should respond with sympathy for those involved and perhaps a few donations to those affected without health insurance, but if we’re talking about content change they shouldn’t change a damn thing.

Had James Holmes gone to a football game to murder people, people wouldn’t say that the sport caused the rampage and the same should go in this situation. Violent movies had absolutely nothing to do with Holmes’ behavior -- it was the fact that he obviously had some serious mental issues.

This is the exact same issue that came up after the Columbine shooting and it’s as ridiculous an argument now as it was then.

Ryan Downey,
I was still in my seat, with two of my friends next to me, after a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises when I turned my phone on and saw the news on Twitter as it was breaking.

I am still processing it. I really can't fathom the situation. Oftentimes the mass culture will come out against violence in the movies, in TV, in music, in video games. But I don't think censoring art will do anything to stop random crazy people from carrying out senseless, vicious and cowardly acts. Note that this guy was armed to the teeth and covered in body armor and yet gave up to the cops without a fight. He's a true coward in every sense of the word.

I handle the box office stories for MTV News and I was incredibly queasy thinking about how to incorporate this into that. Nikke Finke was rightly piled on for wondering aloud, so soon, about how this would affect the gross. Ultimately I advocated against running any stories like that and my editors agreed with me.

The studios made a classy and respectful choice when they chose to withhold reporting the usual celebratory numbers over the weekend.

Prior to learning of the tragedy, my friends and I had just sat through the entire Nolan trilogy at one of the "Dark Knight Marathons." There is no blame to be assigned to the people who made or distributed these movies, nor the people who went to see them. Folks asking "why were kids at that movie?" are asking the wrong freaking questions about what happened. I hope we see real change in society from this tragedy, but I don't think that has to be within the movie community.

Roth Cornet,
That's a tough one. Christian Bale has visited the victim's families which feels like an appropriate response.

It's tough because there's nothing anyone can say that makes it better. It's a senseless, horrible tragedy that will continue to echo in the lives of those affected for years to come.

Aside from donating funds to assist the victims (and leaving out the political aspects), extending one's deepest sympathies is all any of us can do.

Gerrad Hall,
Should studios be responsible for the safety of the audiences they lure into theaters? I don't believe so. Are movie theater metal detectors the solution? Ugh, I hope not, but I certainly won't stop going to the movies if that does become the answer.

I think Warner Bros. has handled this in the best possible way -- from the pulling of the Gangster Squad trailer to the cancellation of the Paris premiere, withholding box office numbers to their contribution to charities supporting victims and their families, which I highly admire. I hope more studios follow suit with their generous gesture.

Already, Hollywood is being flooded with complaints about movies being too violent and that the shooter in Aurora, Colorado was inspired by the actions of despicable and insane characters. 

I hope this doesn't become a battle of the Constitution's First Amendment Free Speech Clause -- protecting movies and other entertainment -- against our right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment. But in my humble opinion, movies don't kill, people do.

Joel D. Amos,
How Hollywood should respond is exactly how it did. I was impressed with how the studios banded together and held back box office results until Monday morning. If nothing, this town is all about the ticket sales. To not want to publicize the money-making aspect of their business and letting the nation and citizens of Aurora grieve, studios showed great class.

Warner Bros. could have made an enormous deal out of the fact that The Dark Knight Rises had scored one of the biggest non-3D openings in movie history. Not publicizing that fanfare shows that the studio felt deep remorse and responded as a caring entity, rather than a for-profit corporation. 

Also, completely unconnected to the studio and done on his own accord, Christian Bale’s visit to the hospital to spend time with those injured and families affected by the shooting is pure class. It has nothing to do with Hollywood as a whole -- it merely paints a picture of the wonderful human being that Bale has become.

In terms of content, we’ve had these discussions dozens of times before and the fact remains, Hollywood will not stop producing violent movies until the audiences cease to buy tickets for them. Violence even permeates the trailers aired on networks, such as the youth-centered one that aired with The Dark Knight Rises MTV footage. You could argue that filmmakers are merely holding a mirror up to our larger society, or that the proliferation of guns in our culture is at an all-time hazardous high, but in the end it’s about what one individual with a completely distorted mental presence can do if they set their mind to it.

Be sure to come back next week as our Movie Fanatic Round Table explores some lighter topics, such as: What movie fans can expect to treasure in the future based on what we collectively saw at Comic-Con, what the best TV-show-to-film adaptation in history is... and which performer out there deserves a John Travolta-type comeback.

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