On July, 20 2012, I saw the midnight premier of "The Dark Knight Rises." Upon returning home from the screening and before going to bed I turned on the news to see the first stories of what soon became 24/7 coverage of the Aurora theater shooting. Since that time our nation has witnessed other acts of domestic terrorism and a national debate over gun control. However, the Aurora shootings had a personal issue for me that still lingers.
It is an American tradition to see movies as a point of escapism. Movies take the viewer to foreign lands and allow unimaginable characters to come to life. Additional movies let us shelve the pain and difficulties in our world and for a few short hours feel safe and comforted by other's adventures. The Aurora shootings took that chance of escapism away from many people. Yes, this is a topic that has been discussed before but this week it resurfaced locally in Jefferson City.
After viewing national coverage of Iron Man 3 premier "promotion" at the Goodrich Capital 8 Theater I was alerted with that same feeling of violation. There are many sides and details to the story but one statement rings out most. Theater manager Bob Wilkins stated in the ABC 17 news coverage that his job is "to entertain people." Assuming that providing Cosplay "costume play" as an enhancement to the movie experience is something he must facilitate. Personally, as a comic-book fan and Cosplay supporter I agree that Cosplay can be a photo op and a way for fans to show their "fandom."
Unfortunately, full Cosplay with tactical gear and automatic machine guns (regardless of visible orange tips) while walking in and out of theaters cannot be seen as "entertainment." Not after the tragic and public events in Aurora that killed 12 people and injured 70.
There has been note that the events have been taken out of context by sources, and this may be true. Nevertheless, if even one person present during the "promotion" was robbed of being able to escape into the comforts those movies bring, Mr. Wilkins is not fulfilling his real job. That job is to provide a safe and secure venue in which people can enjoy a movie. The job of bringing entertainment is provided on the screen, not by a management-hired actor holding toy guns.