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Real violence and violence in art ( or theater) have always been connected. Starting with the play, Macbeth, in 1849 which led to the deaths of 20 people in clashes with police, to the murder of Abraham during the stage show “Our American Cousin,” to the massacre in a Colorado theater, violence in real life has clear connections to violent stage acting.
Often we think of real crimes, such as the killing in the Aurora, Colorado theater as senseless and unexplainable madness. But they aren’t. James E. Holmes, who killed twelve and wounded dozens of others in a crowded theater “allegedly said ‘I am the Joker” before opening fire, and an employee at the jail where he was arraigned told a reporter, ‘He thinks he’s acting in a movie.’ Real life had become drama. His rampage was theatrical in every sense.”
The irony is that some the mantra of absolute separation between art violence and real violence. Acting is not real they argue, therefore, there is no viable connection between violence on the stage and violence on the street. Only a few hours after the shooting, Indiewire proclaimed: ‘Don’t blame the movie,’ as if an army of cultural warriors was poised over the hill, ready to charge Warner Brothers.
To blame Shakespeare, Warner Brothers or the film creators, actors and directors doesn’t seem politically correct. The fact is they do not want to accept responsibility for motivating violence by their artificial play-acting on screen or on stage. And most people don’t want to blame them either, even partially. After all, if they did, buying a movie ticket would implicate them too.
“But just because there’s no [direct] responsibility doesn’t mean there’s no connection.” We cannot escape it. James E. Holmes did his evil deed “on the power of drama.” He shattered the notion that imitation violence isn’t connected to real violence by identifying himself with the movie’s artificial evil character and using the theater stage itself as his killing platform.
“We are living in the midst of an ‘epidemic of crime,’ at which thoughtful, God-fearing men everywhere stand aghast. The corruption that prevails, it is beyond the power of the human pen to describe. Every day brings fresh revelations of political strife, bribery, and fraud. Every day brings its heart-sickening record of violence and lawlessness, of indifference to human suffering, of brutal, fiendish destruction of human life. Every day testifies to the increase of insanity, murder, and suicide. Who can doubt that satanic agencies are at work among men with increasing activity to distract and corrupt the mind, and defile and destroy the body?” Ministry of Healing, pp. 142, 143
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.” Luke 17:26