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Dark Knight massacre in Colorado not first tragedy to play out against pop-culture moment

Today’s tragedy in Aurora, Colo., set against a backdrop of such a huge pop-culture event as the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, brought back memories for me of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. It happened right before the long-awaited premiere of Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, and consequently right before the first official Star Wars Celebration convention at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver. That event was quickly cast under a pall by the shootings, and hooded Sith cloaks (trenchcoats?) and prop sci-fi weapons were, if not outright banned, highly discouraged. Yet the National Rifle Association waved their “cold, dead hands” around as normal in their annual convention there the same weekend.

The parallels leave me wondering whether an event like this (with a gas-mask-wearing assailant targeting a theater showing a brutal, masked villain) will bring an end to costumed-fan events surrounding big movie openings, and I fear the whole moviegoing experience will end up feeling more like a trip to the airport under the watchful eyes of Homeland Security. Of course, whether fanboys and -girls can wear their Comic-Con garb to the movie theater seems like a small consideration at a time like this. But it’s not unreasonable to be wary of losing even the smallest personal freedoms during a time of fear and outrage.


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