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Musings on Batman, shootings, and media

2012 August 9
by smonani

This weekend I finally got to watch Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.  My husband and I had the theater to ourselves at 11am on Sunday.   Less than a month ago, Steve Rust had posted about the shootings at a Batman screening in Aurora.  While I did think of this recent horror, the quiet of a summer Sunday in rural Pennsylvania was beguiling of a world at peace.

This notion of peace was shattered by hearing that while Hollywood mayhem ensued on screen, another type of mayhem was unfolding in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Now we know the name of the man who went on his shooting rampage at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and we know that six people are dead.

In the surge of media attention that yet another senseless massacre has generated, a recent NYTimes’ headline reads, Wisconsin Killer Fed and was Fueled by Hate-driven Music, and a follow-up article similarly points to music as an influence in Wade M. Page’s actions: Hatecore Music is Called White Supremacist Recruiting Tool.

Such headlines say something about media–both about the way it portrays, reports, and tries to make sense of tragedy and on the ways it can/might influence our behaviors.

As most communication scholars and studies articulate, influences via media are anything but straightforward.   There was obviously a lot more than music that made Page commit the hate crime he did.  What those reasons are might or might not be revealed via the various news stories that play out.  But two additional articles caught my eye. These are an A.V. Club review of Batman by Scott Tobias and Matthew Goodwin’s recent Guardian story.

In addition, The L.A. Times quotes and critiques President Obama’s statement: “terrible, tragic events are happening with too much regularity for us not to do some soul-searching to examine additional ways that we can reduce violence.”

As we soul-search, we also grieve.




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