February 26, 2018

Let’s Demand Better at the Movies

By Julie Samrick


At least 12 people now senselessly lie dead and scores of others are wounded in the aftermath of the Colorado theatre shooting at the premiere of the latest Batman movie. Some say the lesson we should glean is to treasure every moment with our loved ones because this fragile life is fleeting.  Debates have, once again, surfaced about gun control.  Some wonder whether the gunman, 24-year-old James Holmes, is clinically insane or just plain evil.


We can all agree that warnings were missed.  Holmes’s neighbors almost immediately spoke out about his troubled demeanor and his mother reportedly believed right away that the shooter was her son.


What is striking is that details are emerging that Holmes dressed like the villain of the Batman superhero franchise, The Joker, dying his hair like the character and even calling himself “The Joker” before calculating the worst American massacre since Columbine. As a packed theatre of people of all ages embarked on their midnight movie adventure, Holmes opened the theatre’s street exit door for a quick escape, but not before he unleashed chemical weapons and then gunned down as many people as he could.


Sure we can hire police to patrol movie theatres from now on.  We can install security measures and create more debacles like the nuisance airport travel has become since 9/11.  Yes, I am certain those things will all be done. Someday we can tell our kids’ kids what movie theatres “used to be like” before metal detectors and armed guards.


Yet the bigger crisis, which will not be remedied by these temporary band-aids, is to figure out why younger and younger children feel so lonely and desperate today.  It was recently reported that antibiotics for children are down, but they are being prescribed more chemicals for mood disorders like ADHD than ever before.  A 7-year-old recently hung himself with his karate belt and a 9-year-old Detroit boy jumped to his death just this week. The headline was that no ambulance could come to collect the boy’s body due to the city’s drastic budget woes. The headline in my mind kept screaming, 9 years old?!


When kids feel isolated and/or lonely, they often grow up to be angry.  Boys, especially, learn to hold their isolation, loneliness and anger in, until they reach a boiling point.


While some kids seek acceptance by turning to drugs or gangs, many others just want to get lost at the movies.  The problem is that the garbage that’s infiltrated our airwaves, television, and movie screens today isn’t helping these kids get through their troubles- they’re making it worse. 


Sure we’re all responsible for our own actions, and I am by no means justifying the Colorado shooter’s actions, but take one look at the media today and it’s easy to see why some bad guys are encouraged to make terrible choices. Villains aren’t beaten, but glorified, today.  MTV doesn’t show the best singers anymore, but those who are the most vulgar.  People with no talent whatsoever catapult to fame every day. For those lonely, angry young people out there, try to find a movie or a show that will uplift them.  And especially for boys, where are the strong, positive leading male role on television or in the movies these days, especially movie Dads?  They’re few and far between.   


I’d already been feeling down about the summer movies of 2012, especially the ones targeted towards kids, even before the Colorado massacre.  I can’t remember the last really positive review of a PG-13, PG or G rated movie I’ve written (By the way, PG-13 is a relatively new, clever rating for producers to squeeze in more questionable material under the guise that it’s still kid friendly).  As a society we have grown so accustomed to more sex, violence, and moral degradation in movies that we’ve grown numb to it.  Hours before the tragedy on Thursday night some other moms were asking what I thought about the new Katy Perry movie.  While they didn’t disagree about my points that Perry’s outfits, for one, were completely inappropriate for little elementary school aged girls to be seeing, multiple times these good mothers shrugged their shoulders in resignation and said, “There’s just no getting away from what kids are exposed to today- it’s everywhere.” 


So it’s beat ‘em or join ‘em?  Let’s beat ‘em and start by mending just one slice of society by shielding our kids from questionable movies.  Then the movie industry will have to join us when it’s clear we demand better.


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  1. Great post, Julie. As always you hit the mark with strong logic and that long-lost cousin, commonsense.
    Parents better start listening and changing habits. Work with the kids, not just now and then, but spend the kind of quality time you would with your most cherished possession. It’s pretty simple, really. And I guess one other thing: we’d all better try and work together on changing the direction in this country.

    Keep up the good work, Julie! You’re a gem.

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