I saw The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. I absolutely loved it. I thought it was the perfect ending to undoubtedly the best superhero franchise ever (so far). However, I’m still processing it, so this isn’t a proper review. I’ll have to see it again before I can truly write about the movie itself. This, on the contrary, is my confrontation of the unavoidable.
I haven’t read anything about the shootings in Aurora in any pop culture trades yet; I’ve only read the news, no commentaries. I suppose many of the major publications and websites are holding off on commentaries out of respect for the dead. After all, how can you even try to make sense of this? You can’t. So I’m not going to try. But I feel as if I should write something about it.
I’ve followed much of the news surrounding Penn State and Joe Paterno. It’s a tragedy, there’s no doubt about that. There was this thing called Penn State football, and we can argue again and again about the significance of that thing, but regardless of our conclusion, people cared a lot about it, people would have sworn by it, and now it’s changed forever, not to mention the changes to the legacy of a man people once thought of as sainted. Penn State football will never be the same. We all know that doesn’t really matter; only the real people changed forever by the actions of Jerry Sandusky- only they really matter. But it feels like football really matters sometimes, doesn’t it? Just like it felt like The Dark Knight Rises really mattered as I was watching it and as I processed its significance after it was over.
I listened to “Walking in Memphis” on the way home from dropping off my fiancée. I don’t really know what that song means (really, I’m not even sure Marc Cohn knew what he meant, since the chorus asked if he even feels the way he feels, and I don’t know what that means), but it feels great when I listen to it. It feels like a dream, actually; it feels significant. But when it’s over, I know it’s not even that great of a song, because when it’s over, it’s just that- it’s over. The best pieces of culture don’t feel over when they finish. Great football games never feel over. Great songs continue to play in your head. Great movies keep pulling at your heart. The Dark Knight Rises was like that; I loved the ending they gave Bruce Wayne and Batman. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I’m watching E.T. right now, and it’s one of those movies too. The best kind that stays with you; E.T. is one of the very best, because as I’m watching it I’m noticing how much a part of my childhood it was, and how it appears to have grown up with me. I love this movie, like I loved The Dark Knight Rises, and like I love football, and like I love great songs, like “Born to Run” or “I Saw Her Standing There.”
But the truth is, I’ll never be able to think about The Dark Knight Rises without thinking about the deaths of those people in Aurora. I’ll never be able to think about college football without thinking about the kids whose very souls were forever damaged by a man that should have never been allowed on campus. I will still love the last Batman movie, and I’ll still love football. But there’s a mortality to them that can’t be denied. Football points to bigger things, and Batman stands for more significant ideas (heroism in the face of the sin of the world as well as his own sin, for example), but in the end, they don’t really matter. The crimes associated with them, they will always matter. They are eternal. And I’ll never be able to make sense of them.