Last week, my wife and I saw the Disney-masturbates-to-itself film Saving Mr. Banks. It was a sweet, heartwarming tale about how alcoholism, daddy-issues and mental illness led to the creation of the timeless classic Mary Poppins.
Seated in the middle of the back row of the theater was a 30-something white guy who was clearly high as a kite on meth (or similar). For the first ten minutes of the movie, this guy was loudly humming along to the movie's score. He also reacted out-loud to everything that happened. Whenever the Emma Thompson character would say something obnoxious (which she does throughout), the meth guy would shout, "You stupid bitch!" And, worse, he was rhythmically stomping his foot on the floor.
A family of four -- husband, wife and two teen-aged daughters -- were seated immediately in front of this goon, and after everyone in the theater had taken a turn asking the guy to quiet down, the dad leaped out of his seat and shouted at the guy, "Shut the fuck up!" I had a clear view of everything and, yeah, I thought there was going to be a brawl.
Long story short, theater security entered and asked the man to calm down or be ejected. Gratefully, he stopped what he was doing, moved to the end of his row, and that was that. Back to the, you know, Disney movie.
Now that I think about it, maybe someone should've shot the meth-head. You know, with a concealed firearm.
No? Too much?
Well that's what I learned from the internet yesterday after news broke of a shooting at movie theater in Tampa where a retired cop, 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, shot a husband and wife for texting during the movie. The husband, 43-year-old Chad Oulson, died from the gunfire.
But in various comment threads, missing was the barrage of comments calling for more gun control measures or a repeal of Florida's infamous "Stand Your Ground" law. Instead, I read comment after comment in which the victims were blamed for the shooting. Because they were committing the obviously death-worthy trespass of texting in a movie theater.
And these were just a few selections from one comment thread below the FOX 13 article. Incidentally, it wasn't just conservatives who were posting these sorts of remarks. (I won't even get into all of the racist comments by rednecks who assumed all parties involved were African-American.)
Not only are these comments yet another indication that the gun control debate in the United States is all but dead, but it also shows how cynical we've become when it comes to gun violence. When it becomes acceptable to blame the victim of a cold-blooded killing because he was texting during a movie -- in fact, during the trailers no less -- we've de-evolved to a wild west state of proto-civilization in which we cheer violent retribution for acts that we personally find annoying.
Yes, of course moviegoers who think they're lounging around in their living rooms behaving like self-indulgent morons are -- GRRR! -- profoundly irritating, and theater management should do a better job ejecting them, especially before trouble brews. But what have we become we when we publicly muse -- either seriously or jokingly -- that a man who was merely texting during the trailers ought to be shot in the chest at point-blank range?
Chad Oulson had a 3-year-old daughter -- in fact, it was her babysitter whom Oulson was texting at the time. His wife, by the way, was shot through the hand when she tried to protect her husband from the shooter. Because of a gun culture that permits concealed handguns in public places, as well as a society that elevates gunmen who believe they're standing their ground to hero status, Oulson's daughter will grow up without her father.
But he was texting in a movie theater, so, you know... justice.