Hollywood Violence Gets Real in Colorado Shooting

Interview

Friday, July 27, 2012

People stand in the parking lot outside the Century 16 movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage on July 20 in Aurora, Colorado People stand in the parking lot outside the Century 16 movie theater where 12 people were killed in a shooting rampage on July 20 in Aurora, Colorado (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Adam Gopnik has written frequently — too frequently, he laments — about the gun rampages that convulse America. Following the recent attack at a Colorado movie theater showing The Dark Knight Rises, Gopnik wrote in The New Yorker, “The killings will go on; the cell phones in the pockets of dead children will continue to ring; and now parents can be a little frightened every time their kids go to a midnight screening of a movie designed to show them what stylized fun violence can be.” 

Gopnik’s own 17-year-old son was at another of those midnight screenings. He tells Kurt Andersen that he’s had a long, ongoing conversation with his son about the effects of violence in pop culture, but it’s open-ended. “The problem, I always think, when we talk about these things is that we want causality. And culture doesn’t give us causality,” Gopnik says. “But there’s connectivity without causality. ... The connectivity of a culture is a deep thing.”

Gopnik, who lived in Europe for many years, says cultures express “crazy” in different ways. It seems to him that mass murder more often has a political dimension there — as in Oslo a year ago — whereas in the US, “we tend to have fantasies of self-expression through the annihilation of others,” Gopnik says.

Hollywood can open great vistas of imagination for us, but for Gopnik the cost of movie violence has gotten too high. “Is it incumbent on us always to pretend that we just love watching scenes of massacre and mass destruction?” Gopnik asks, citing how the horrors of 9/11 seemed eerily similar to the destruction in big-budget disaster movies. “It’s only when [disaster] actually happens that you realize what its actual content is. For me, at least, that kind schizophrenic divorce between the actual content and the imagined content of our lives becomes uglier and uglier as I get older.”

    Music Playlist
  1. North Atlantic
    Artist: Hilary Hahn, Hauschka
    Album: Silfra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Insides
    Artist: Jon Hopkins
    Album: Insides
    Label: Domino
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

Adam Gopnik

Produced by:

Julia Barton

Comments [4]

corben

@ robert from NYC

yes indeed.....

Jul. 29 2012 04:17 PM
Robert from NYC

Gopnik, and others who seem to draw a blank as to reasons for the sickening number of mass shootings in the US, should consider this.
The reason for almost all shootings in the US are in fact political --- even if not overtly expressed or even aknowledged as such by the perpetrsators themselves.
Capitalism is a system of winners and of losers. The 'party line'--that with which all citizens are indoctrinated with, is that if you do all the right things -- then you too will be among the winners. Capitalism -- this wonderous impartial system, is supposed to reward hard work and playing by the rules.
If only that were so. But that is just one of the falsehoods of Capitalism.
The system breaks down on so many levels at the individual level, that it leaves masses of people unable to cope with it.
When one reaches the bottom through no fault of his own, incredible rage potentially surfaces. This was not supposed to happen.
This, along with the insanity of the gun culture and laws, manifests itself in the (political) outbursts of violence against the society that has misled them. Hence the sickening frequency of unexplained outburts of gun violence.

Jul. 29 2012 11:42 AM
David from Studio 360

Lisa, Pejk Malinovski not only said his name really great, but he was a great radio producer. He's working on a lot of independent sound-related art projects and documentaries. I believe he's back in Denmark now, where he's from; he tried to sell me his Vespa before he left.

Jul. 28 2012 12:25 PM
Lisa from Philadelphia

I enjoy the show just about every week on WHYY. Something I really like is at the end of the show when your staff members each say their own names. But I miss Pike Melinoski! He had such a distinctive way of saying his name. Pike! Milenoski. Where did Pike go, and I hope he's doing well. :)
Thanks to all at Studio 360 for your great work!

Jul. 28 2012 08:07 AM

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