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Inspirational Humans of the Day: Aurora Shooting Victims Attend Court Hearings in Batman-Shirted Solidarity

A Lesson in Humility

In a hearing in Centennial, Colorado yesterday morning, friends and family of victims as well as survivors of the Aurora Shooting gathered to be present as James Holmes was charged with twenty-four counts of murder (one count of “murder” and one count of “murder in extreme indifference” for each of the twelve victims) and one-hundred-sixteen counts of attempted murder for the fifty-eight other people in the theater that night. The Hollywood Reporter talked to Don Lader, who said that the Batman shirts worn by some of the survivors were at least in part a sign that Holmes’ actions did not have power over them. Lader has gone back to watch The Dark Knight Rises twice, once with his wife, who was also in the Aurora theater, and once with the son of another survivor who the Laders have befriended since their ordeal.

There’s something in what Lader said, about the rumors that Holmes was interested in the Joker (still too unsubstantiated for me, but interesting insofar as it’s clear that a lot of people really want the connection to be there, whether it’s because they’d like to blame comics or movies, or just because they’d like a simple, knowable answer to the question “why would someone do this?”), and about the resolution to still act as a, well, a fan of Batman normally would, that reminded me of something that comic writer Gail Simone said recently on her Tumblr, after finding out that some of the fans she’d connected with at a con were at the theater in Aurora, and that one of their friends died saving the life of another.

Essentially, it’s a reminder that if we worry that violent movies, or comics, or depictions of a single evil fictional character turned one man against seventy, that those seventy, of whom we’ve heard so many inspiring stories of sacrifice and heroism, were there because of movies, and comics, and depictions of a single heroic character. But I should really let Simone say it (in a small excerpt from her larger piece):

Few are called upon like the heroes of Aurora that night. They remind me what heroism really means. They give me hope. In the middle of the despair and shock, these people saw what needed doing and did it, regardless of the cost to themselves.

A lot has been made of the idea that the gunman was influenced by a fictional villain.

But I think it’s very telling to note that all those heroes, all those amazing, remarkable, beautiful people, came not just to see the latest Batman movie…they went to the first possible showing, a midnight show. They wanted to see Batman. I have seen the power that character has, I have felt it myself. He doesn’t kill, he doesn’t use guns.

He’s a good guy. A hero. A protector.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that THOSE remarkable people were there to see a movie about a hero.

Bless every one of them.

It’s a sad fact that horrific shooting massacres are not uncommon in recent American history, but as members of fan communities, this is perhaps the first that strikes us “where we live.” It will always feel in some way an improper tribute to compare real life heroes and survivors to the fictional ones we read about in books. There’s a lot about Batman that’s patently ridiculous, and I’ll be the first to admit it. But what isn’t improper, I think, is to talk about the power of story, and how it captivates and moves us. How it heals, and inspires, how the idea of a hero, real or fictional, can be used as emotional armor. And that some survivors of the Aurora shooting are showing us that these ideas matter. And that they matter to them more than the trauma inflicted on them. And that’s what’s rendering me speechless and tearful.

You can read the entirety of Gail Simone’s post here, and a response from one of the fans she talks about here.

(Photo from The Hollywood Reporter.)

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Susana Polo thought she'd get her Creative Writing degree from Oberlin, work a crap job, and fake it until she made it into comics. Instead she stumbled into a great job: founding and running this very website (she's Editor at Large now, very fancy). She's spoken at events like Geek Girl Con, New York Comic Con, and Comic Book City Con, wants to get a Batwoman tattoo and write a graphic novel, and one of her canine teeth is in backwards.