Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell

The Aurora Effect

The Impact on Pop Culture
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The scene of the theater shooting
CW44_TMPowell_4x3 T.M. Powell
I'm CW44's Media Critic & '44 on the Town' Co-Host. I make...
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If you would have asked me three weeks ago what The Dark Knight Rises domestic take at the box office would be, I would have said at least $550 million. After the 60 percent tumble The Dark Knight Rises felt in the film’s second week at the box office I’m not sure if the film will gross over $400 million here in the states. Strong word of mouth should have allowed The Dark Knight Rises to dominate the end of the summer in the money department. Instead you are seeing the Aurora effect take place in the world of pop culture. Movies are always the first to be blamed when a violent event takes place. Columbine was blamed on The Matrix even though that film had nothing to do with what those two demented teens carried out that day in April. For some reason television can attract viewers and capitalize during these horrible times when movies tend to attract the most social blame.

When that monster re-entered the theater at the Century Aurora 16 Cineplex he not only destroyed the lives of the victims families but unfortunately made his mark in the pop culture world. The loss of life in that theater at midnight never compares to the effect the shooter had on the entertainment world but facts are facts and there was an effect. Movie goers have not only stayed away from The Dark Knight Rises but movies in general. TDKR made $64 Million in it’s second weekend followed by Ice Age: Continental Drift with $13.3 million, and the third big flop of the summer The Watch with $13 million. I understand those games that start with the letter “O” started Friday night but the numbers should have been bigger the rest of the weekend. Whether it is fear or reminders of the tragedy people have decided to stay away from the movies.

Empty theaters are not the only problems for movie studios. Some films are being forced to change sequences in their films in the wake of Aurora. Gangster Squad, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone removed a scene from their trailer depicting a shootout in a movie theater. Turns out that scene was pivotal in the story and now the film will be pushed back for reshoots. Warner Brothers probably made the right call removing the scene but if they would have chose to leave the scene in I wouldn’t have been bothered by it. If Warner Brothers added the scene after the tragic events, I would have had a problem with it, but the scenes for Gangster Squad were filmed months before the shooting. Just think if the shooting would have happened at a bowling alley. The scene would have stayed in the film and the viewers would not have had an uneasy feeling about the now removed scene.

Television is not immune to the Aurora effect either. Cartoon network’s Beware the Batman will now be toned down and the use of weapons will be limited. Cartoons have always been violent. Many times as a child I saw Elmer Fudd shoot Daffy Duck at point blank range in the face. I never turned around and mimicked the actions. If anything I think cartoons are less violent compared to Tom and Jerry electrocuting each other back in the day. Television always seems to be the offender of capitalizing on tragedies before any one else. In the case of television the Aurora effect can be positive – unfortunately.

Made for TV movies show up on basic cable retelling the horrible events in our society. The television franchise Law and Order has made a history of making episodes that were ripped from the headlines.  That means they waited for the terrible event to happen and then the writers inserted the real life story into their shows. In this case we don’t demand for the episode not to air. For the most part, people would tune in for record ratings to see how the real life tragedy was depicted on the small screen. How come movies must change scenes but television can actually garner more attention from capitalizing on the terrible event?

Thankfully trying to capitalize on horrible circumstances doesn’t always work out. Just ask the unfunny Dane Cook. Cook decided to incorporate his negative feeling towards The Dark Knight Rises into a joke about the killing spree. The joke went like this:

“So I heard that the guy came into the theater about 25 minutes into the movie…And I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, but the movie is pretty much a piece of crap. Yea, spoiler alert. I know that if none of that would have happened, pretty sure that somebody in that theater, about 25 minutes in, realizing it was a piece of crap, was probably like ‘ugh (expletive) shoot me.”

Bravo Mr. Cook. Once again you showed how unfunny you are and that you have to make light of the loss of life to grab any kind of attention. Didn’t you learn anything from Gilbert Gottfried’s Twitter feed? Cook tried to be the first risk taker to make light of the shooting and guess what? People rightfully booed him. I’m not the type of guy to walk around with the sky is falling mentality but a joke like Cook’s was told way too soon.

Movies seem to be the whipping-boy now when it comes to violence in our society. People are looking to point fingers and films with violence seem to be the scapegoat. My problem with that mentality is plenty of people saw The Dark Knight Rises opening weekend and it didn’t cause them to go do harm to others. Artists should be allowed to tell their stories the way they intended as long as they are not capitalizing on the tragedy or making light of the situation. Don’t let the acts of one sick individual decide what we should and will be exposed to.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @Cw44CouchPotato and become a fan on Facebook. I’ll be back Thursday with my latest installment of “Box Office Psychic“.

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