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Brown: Violent comic books not to blame

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© Drawn to Comics © Drawn to Comics
GLENDALE, AZ (CBS5) -

Ken Brown, of Drawn to Comics in Glendale and CBS 5 News blogger on comics and pop culture shares his insights on a gunman who killed 12 people during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in a Denver suburb.

This morning, I woke up to go get my car emissioned, dreading waiting in the line. With my 1991 Caprice without AC, I quickly was brought back to reality to how insignificant a concern I had. After picking up my cell phone, I noticed that I had two unusually early morning calls - one from a close friend and another from my mom. I quickly called both of them back and got voicemail both times, so I jumped on my smartphone and started searching news sources to see what the early morning calls may have been about. I quickly found the news about the devastating shooting in Aurora, CO, at the midnight premier of what was billed to be the "blockbuster movie event of the summer," Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises

My heart, first of all, immediately sunk and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of the innocent (victims) and their families who lost their lives while trying to enjoy a night at the biggest movie night of the year. Many people are trying to put an explanation to why or how this has happened. Was it influenced by a one-page scene from the 1986 Dark Knight Returns graphic novel by Frank Miller? The story of a conflicted young man, who was being influenced by his pastor that rock 'n' roll music by Zeplin was the work of the devil and who was recently fired from his job due to the response of one of the customers not taking kindly to his evangelization, and who after reflecting on his stresses decided to walk into a porn movie theatre and open fire into the crowd, killing three people. Ironically, the fictional news commentary blamed the shooters actions on the influence of Batman. I believe that Frank Miller was implying that society is always looking for someone or something to blame for tragic events such as the one he used for his story, but in perspective, it was the culprit himself who had emotional instability and acted upon his own inability to cope with his personal stresses rationally.

This page from this story is drawing many similarities to what happened so recently in Aurora, CO. Are comic books to blame for this situation?  I strongly say "no." This comic came out over 26 years ago, two years before shooter James Holmes was even born. Yes, he may have read the "Dark Knight Returns" which has that one-page similar scene and yes, he did dress and act similar to how the movie villain, Bane operates in the "Dark Knight Rises" but there are so many other people that have done similar things and much worse that have never picked up a comic book to read in their life. This situation is of a man who has clearly gone crazy, who may have been a Batman fan. This does not make every person who reads comics at risk to go and buy guns, tear gas bombs and movie tickets to go see how they can make their favorite comic book stories come to life. The bottom line is that there is going to be unstable people out there that will lose touch with reality and do something extreme like this on a rare occasion. Thank God these events happen so seldom in reality and when they do they are a tragedy that every rational person sees as wrong and horrible. As long as we realize that this person is a sick person and that the only thing needed is to get him removed from the masses, and more so the help he needs to cure him of whatever mental illness that made him want to see the world burn in front of his very eyes.

So please, if you have kids who are reading violent comics or playing violent video games, instead of banning them from playing them or requiring them to throw them all away, do something much more proactive and talk to them about this situation. Ask them what they think about it. Ask them how it has impacted them. Ask them what they would have done in that situation. Teach them how to stay safe, most of all be sure to teach them yourself why what happened there is so wrong and how it is not "the norm" for a person to act like that. As terrible as this situation is, it is a good time to talk to and learn to teach people about how to think things through rationally and make good decisions in stressful situations to help keep situations like the one in Aurora to be an anomaly not the norm.

Ken Brown

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