In response to Friday's tragic shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, Twitter users took to their timelines to express their worry. Their concern was-- how will government respond to this event?
Far from demanding total security and safety, many Twitter users, already upset by TSA pat downs and screenings at airports, feared the same treatment could come to cinemas. Here are a few responses. Matt Johnson wrote:
"I swear, if I have to go through TSA style security to get into a movie theater I will never go again."
Diane Tavarez Strain sarcastically wrote:
"Prediction: TSA at every movie theater by year's end. It's for our own good you know"
Some are welcoming new security measures, both private and run by government. AMC Theaters has already banned costumes and face coverings in their theaters. Others are directly welcoming of increased TSA and/or police presence in movie theaters:
"Yes, the TSA should take over theater safety, call it the… TSA, Theater Safety Administration."
But this does raise important questions that we as a society continually re-evaluate. What is the appropriate level of safety and security to be provided by government? How much liberty are we willing to sacrifice in order to feel safe? If TSA and police ramp up presence at theaters, would it not also be appropriate to do so at grocery stores, malls, dog parks, and comedy clubs?
There are also private measures that can be taken. As stifling to the fun atmosphere as banning costumes and masks may be, AMC may have something right. How many people would want to go see a movie in a place that they do not feel safe? If theaters can preemptively implement tighter security measures, a government response may be unnecessary. It may be in their interest to do so. Why would people pay $10 plus popcorn to stand in line for a pat down when they can pirate most movies from their lap top, sometimes before they are released?
Movie going remains a magical and important past time for Americans, an opportunity to escape and experience other worlds with friends, family, dates, other fans, and strangers. What happened in Aurora has tainted this ritual, as noted in the statement regarding the tragedy released by The Dark Knight Rises director, Christopher Nolan:
"... I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."
Nolan makes an important point regarding the nature of the movie theater. Whatever is done, public or private, to prevent another tragedy like this one, an important priority should be to make sure that the "magic" of the movie theater is preserved in the process.