Christian Bale, aka Batman, showed up in Aurora, Colo., a few days after the mass shootings at the opening of his latest movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The unannounced outing sent the chattering channels into breathless adulation. The “emotional visit,” reported one, “created a sensation.” Another reported that the actor who portrays the Dark Knight “became the white knight.” One shooting victim whom Bale visited in the hospital instantly posted a picture with Bale on Facebook, declaring himself “still in shock” – not from the impact of the killer’s bullets, mind you, but from the magnanimity of the actor’s gesture.
How ill we are.
Bale arrived at the hospital in an ambulance, wearing jeans and a black T-shirt and accompanied by his wife, Sibi Blazic – also in black and wearing huge, dark sunglasses to hide, we’re to assume, her tear-reddened eyes. He had nothing to say publicly, having had his spokesman release on the previous Saturday this statement:
“Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them.”
Including, presumably, the 12 dead, whom he did not mention.
He could and should have had a great deal more to say, but along these lines:
“Words cannot express the shame and regret that I feel at having contributed to a cultural atmosphere in which this horrific event became possible. The gazillion dollars I was paid to make that movie cannot sufficiently ease my conscience, so I intend to donate the money to a fund for the victims and their families and for research into the effect of America’s entertainment culture on our most susceptible citizens. Further, I will work within the industry to move away from the cultural pornography that we provide and undertake broad reform.
“We must stop denying that our films and electronic games celebrating extreme violence, crudity, sadism and unrestrained self-aggrandizement somehow have no effect on the minds and civic souls of our people.
“Apologists for our industry insist that the case for malevolent influence is not proved; that there is no demonstrable cause and effect. Common sense and our sad and growing body of experience tell us otherwise. Our understanding of acceptable activity, and that of our children, is inevitably drawn from our cultural environment.
“But I will need the help of all of you. In a democracy, we cannot simply pass laws aimed at restraining or officially decreeing what may be written or filmed or otherwise created. That would end our freedom as surely as the bullets ended the lives of so many in that theater.
“We do, however, have the freedom and the economic leverage to stop our cultural descent. Just don’t buy the stuff; raise your children not to merely avoid but to abhor depictions of anti-social, violent and discomforting acts.
“But we will be fighting a huge industry that makes billions of dollars nurturing our worst instincts and constantly pushing the boundaries, not in the spirit of artistic exploration but merely out of greed.
“Feeding around the edges of that monolith are the journalistic enablers who glorify artificial celebrity. They will tell you that those like me are special and to be emulated and envied. Today I am telling you that they are wrong.”