Like everyone, I was shocked and angry when learning about the massacre at the midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" early Friday morning in Aurora, Colo,
But among the early reports in which we learned 12 people had died, two other numbers stood out: also in the audience that night were a 3-month-old baby and a 6-year-old, both of whom reportedly were injured.
What the hell were a baby and a 6-year-old child doing at a "Dark Knight" film?
What the hell were a baby and a 6-year-old doing being anywhere but bed at midnight?
All the deaths are horrific and needlessly tragic. I occasionally think when I'm at a movie or a concert how easy it would be for some maniac to get loose with a gun and kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. That random thought gets laced with real fear when my imagination adds my kids to the equation. It's terrifying and, unfortunately, it's something parents have to keep in mind in this nutty, random world we live in.
I feel terrible for the families of those two children, wounded by a 24-year-old nutjob wanting to make a name for himself by timing his sick plan for a major public event.
But there's no way those kids should have been there. There's no way they should have been there even if it was noon.
"The Dark Knight Rises" is rated PG-13. So, technically, the parents may be justified, assuming they were there with their parents. But common sense says someone seeing the third film of a trilogy has seen the first two, therefore they have an idea that, in this case, the movie is violent, semi-complicated, and not fit for young kids.
I saw a media screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" earlier this week. It's a violent film. It's dark. It's not for kids -- at least not for babies and 6-year-olds. After I saw the movie and posted some thoughts on Facebook, someone asked me if I thought it was appropriate for his 4-year-old. I don't know his son, but I can't imagine this movie being appropriate for any 4-year-old ... or 6-year-old.
And certainly not at midnight, at a chaotic, rowdy opening of the year's most anticipated film.
I don't mean to lessen the significance of the adult victims, nor do I mean to preach. As some readers may know, I have four daughters and a huge soft spot for children. I also have a giant bone to pick with adults who treat kids like their little social buddies at adult events.
When I was a music critic, I frequently saw adults with small children at concerts; sometimes on school nights, sometimes seeing acts that kids have no business seeing. Concerts are full of drunk, screaming people. Never mind the ones openly using drugs and occasionally brawling. I have no problem with adults doing what they like within reason at a concert, so long as they're not bothering anyone else.
But to see parents with elementary school kids at a Korn show on a weeknight during the school year made me grind my teeth. Seeing unchaperoned pre-teen girls at a Limp Bizkit show react when Fred Durst told the crowd's females to lift up their shirts, made me groan. In both instances, somebody's parents made bad decisions. Or maybe no decision at all.
The parents in Colorado who took their kids to a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" aren't the criminals; alleged shooter James Holmes likely is. But, as tragic as the whole situation is for everyone involved, it's a reminder that there's no way those kids should have been anywhere near that tragedy.