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Where Are The Real Super Heroes?

July 20, 2012

Today I logged into Facebook to see many, many well-wishes for an old high school theater classmate of mine, Brent Lowak.  I was shocked.  Brent?  This guy that I fondly remember as being part of so many productions, who I can see myself sitting next to in several photos in my old yearbooks?  I last talked to him at some convention… Something happened to him?  What was it?  Colorado?  What was he doing there?  

He was visiting a special person in Colorado.  A girl who also went to my high school, just a couple years younger than myself.  They were only trying to watch a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, in a movie theater in Aurora.  It was an event that everyone had been excited for for so very long.  I myself had wished to see the movie at midnight, too, from my own city of San Antonio, Texas.

But then something terribly tragic happened as the movie began.  A man enters from one of the exit doors near the screen.  He throws a gas canister in and then proceeds to light the theater ablaze with gunfire.  From what I understand, Brent and his dear friend Jessica Ghawi attempted to duck under the shots.  But Jessica had been hit in the leg.  And as Brent attempted to stop the bleeding, he himself was shot in the hindquarters, shrapnel traveling up to his shoulder.  And next was a shot that very sadly ended Jessica’s life.  All Brent could do was escape, which he very luckily did, though from my understanding bleeding was hard to stop for a while.  Of course he’s been through surgery… he’s incredibly fortunate to be alive.  

But what do you live with after something like that?  Of course you will have scars, and they’ll take a while to heal.  You’ll likely have to go through quite a bit of physical therapy.  But what about the incredible emotional scars?  Jessica was an ex-girlfriend, but a friend still nonetheless, and apparently important enough to travel out of state to visit and see the midnight premiere of an exciting movie with.  What do you do with yourself, having been right there to witness the loss of someone so precious to you?

I wasn’t directly related to any of the issues out of Aurora aside from having been classmates with people who were there.  But I felt such pain for those involved with such senseless violence.  I sent a tweet, asking for prayers for my old classmate.

This is when someone sent a tweet back at me in return.  “We’re trying to find my cousin. Was your friend’s friend named Matt?”

No… someone was lost… but what could I do?  I offered to send out tweets to get retweeted to find the individual.

“His name is Matt McQuinn. He is unaccounted for. Either lost in the shuffle or one of the 10in the theater. If you hear anything let me know please. Victims sevices had no news for his mom” 

And so I tweeted.  I hoped that somebody out there had the answers this person was looking for.  Quickly, the retweets started piling up.  But sadly, it didn’t come up with the results we were looking for.

The irony was, I’d already made my own plans to see The Dark Knight Rises tonight.  I couldn’t stay by Twitter to keep my finger on the pulse, to see if Matt had been found.  So, for three hours, I went without knowing.  Until I got out of the theater and checked Twitter on my phone.

“You can call off the search. Matt didn’t make it. Thanks for trying.”

I stood outside the theater for a moment, staring down at my phone in the palm of my hand.  I felt so helpless.  I was so far away, and there was nothing I could do.  My stupid tweets didn’t mean anything.  I was powerless against the monster that appeared in that theater just the other night.

And then I cried.

I just stood outside the doors of the theater and I cried.

“I wasn’t even directly involved.  What’s wrong with me?”

You know what’s crazy?  The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent movie.  So deserving of its hype and all the money it made just in its midnight showings alone.  And everyone who went to that Colorado theater last night just wanted to share in the excitement of this experience.  They all wanted to see their hero on the big screen, the last movie in this particular chain.  They were all so excited that they couldn’t possibly wait for another showing.  It was first or nothing.

And one crazed mid-twenties man ruined it.  For everyone.

And he ruined it in such a number of ways.  In all the selfish ways one can think of… he ruined the possibility of fun excitement for passionate fans, the ones you so often see at science fiction, fantasy, or hero movies, the ones who go in costume because they’re that passionate about a franchise.  You can forget that for a while.  Ruined it for people who choose to exercise their right to bear arms.  You can look forward to ridiculous debates on gun control for a while now, too. “Everyone should have guns!”  “No one should have guns!”  At bare minimum, he ruined what was going to be a good night for a theater packed to the brim with people.

And at worst, he ruined and stole lives.

And for what?  We’ll learn motivation as the days pass, that is to be certain.  But no matter what the motivation was, there will never be a REAL reason.  There’s NEVER a good enough reason for what happened.  The people in that theater were there for an innocent pastime and were undeserving of the terror that so very casually walked in through that front exit door.  You can label it with a very simple, clear answer: Insanity.  However, does that in the slightest justify the action?  In personal belief, no, it doesn’t.  In my opinion, “insanity” is different from “intelligence”.  James Holmes very clearly and deliberately planned this attack out in advance.  It was clearly premeditated.  At the very least, he was “smart” enough to go to different locations over the last couple of months to purchase his weapons and ammunition, cover his apartment in a ridiculous amount of booby traps.  He even seemed to want to do all of this looking like, and calling himself, “The Joker”.

It sounds like he likely did exactly what he wanted to accomplish.  He became a super villain.

Perhaps by me labeling him as such, I’ve given him exactly what he was looking for.  He’s gotten his name in history.  I can’t think of any other “logical” reason behind any of it, other than it’s just want he wanted to do for himself.  After all, he didn’t even kill himself or let himself get shot by the police after the event.  How many mass shootings have you heard of where the shooter doesn’t off himself afterwards?  He let himself be taken in peacefully.  He wanted to see it unfold just as much as any of us do.

Disgusting.  Crazy, painful, and disgusting.

And it just begs the question.  Where are the real super heroes?  

Where is the real Batman?

I think people really do need heroes of some variety.  Someone they can look up to.  Someone they can believe in.  We can say that we have real heroes of a variety.  Our military forces, police officers, fire fighters, EMS, etc.  And they do amazing services and put their lives at risk every day.  They do jobs that are deserving of our utmost respect.

And yet hundreds of emergency phone calls to the police didn’t save over 70 people last night.  James did exactly as much shooting as he had planned on doing.  He shot, and he just kept shooting until he was done.  And once he was done he just casually walked right back out the same door he came in through.  He walked right into the arms of police, sure.  But where were they?  They couldn’t be there fast enough to save the lives of 12 of those people, or stop the injuries of dozens and dozens more.  And that’s not entirely their fault.  They’re only human.  They can only get there so fast.

But horrendous events like these make you wish for a hero.  A REAL hero.  Someone to swoop in and save the day.  Stop the bad guys.  And then dash away without expecting a word of thanks.

It’s an unrealistic desire.  I know.  But it doesn’t mean we don’t dream of it.  A hero, just like the Batman we’ve seen appear on the big screen this weekend.  Someone who isn’t afraid to risk his own life to save the lives of countless others in a city he loves, despite the fact that that very same city has shown no love for him.

Or at the very least, I wish I could say I had more power.  The power to do something about it all myself.  I will never see a super hero.  I will never be a super hero.  But I wish for something greater than what we have so dearly.

My prayers… my prayers for the friends, the families, the fallen.  I’m praying terribly hard for everyone even remotely involved with these tragic events tonight.  Godspeed, and please take care of yourselves.  Take care of yourselves, while we continue to search for our heroes.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2012 12:09 AM

    The police and other emergency responders couldn’t save those twelve lives. But thanks to them, and doctors at several local hospitals, and blood donors flocking to donation centers, and a myriad of other people, the death toll hasn’t risen above twelve. This was a senseless act that was too sudden and unexpected for anyone to prevent, but I see no shortage of heroes in the story.

  2. July 21, 2012 12:10 AM

    It’s a terrible thing to have happen, especially when someone you even know was affected. It really, really hurts. My condolences.

  3. Michael Main permalink
    July 21, 2012 12:16 AM

    The reason we as a race invent super heroes is to try to forget that things like this happen, to pretend that injustice will always be met with swift vengeance, and to give ourselves hope.

    I too wish that Batman, Superman, the Avengers, etc…were all real and all there to stop all the terrible things that happen in our world everyday. And people wonder why I like My Little Pony. It’s just another way to pretend that the world isn’t so fucked up.

  4. July 21, 2012 12:22 AM

    Perfectly wrote. A senseless massacre at the hands of a clearly disturbed individual. He ruined not only what was supposed to be a good night of fun and celebration for a great film trilogy, but the lives of so many people.I feel bad for mentioning the movie and of course the ruining of the night of fun is nowhere near the level of the lives lost.

    Unfortunately, I am not great with wording things, your article was much better.

    And my condolences to the lives of those you mentioned, as well as everyone involved.

  5. Kairamek permalink
    July 21, 2012 12:26 AM

    Where are the real heroes? That Matt you wrote about died protecting his girlfriend. Balistics and positioning meant one of them would die last night and he chose to take the risk. The real heroes protected their loved ones. The real heroes arrested the suspect within minutes. The real heroes didn’t wait for the ambulance and rushed victims straight to the hospital. The real heroes are why there were ONLY 12 fatalities last night.

    And the real heroes spread the word about Red Cross’s Live and Safe list, where to donate blood, where to send donations, and tried to locate my cousin via the power of a world-wide fanbase. Thank you Kaylyn, Nash, JO, and everyone else who spread the word.

  6. Levi permalink
    July 21, 2012 12:27 AM

    I didn’t really know anybody involved, so I can’t really relate. I’m sorry that you and your friends have had to go through so much pain the last few nights.
    I’m sad to hear how some a**hole has to go and ruin people’s lives.
    I wish I could help somehow, but for now, I’ll pray for the victims and hope justice is served.

  7. July 21, 2012 12:46 AM

    Firstly, Kaylyn, I’m so sorry you were affected by this personally. You have my condolences.

    On the title of this post – the problem, I think, is that many simply don’t have time to be a hero. Not just in the sense that they’re too busy to stop a crime – they’re too busy to undergo the kind of training or physical transformation required to be a hero. They have jobs because you need to pay bills in life, and so they can’t become amazing fighters. Batman is largely not an impossible figure due to the lack of superpowers, but he is unlikely due to requiring a mixture of extreme intelligence, billions of dollars that he simply inherited without having to work for, an extraordinary drive to train himself to physical perfection and the willingness – hell, the moral imperative – to put himself in danger to save others. Precious few people have even one of these 4 attributes.

    And hell, it’s unlikely even Batman could have stopped this tragedy – the very best scenario would be that Bruce Wayne was in the room (or maybe the building) with no armour or gadgets, and could possibly stop the shooter with his wits and martial arts skills. I wish there were heroes too, and costumed ‘superhero’ wannabes do exist – apparently they’ve even helped stop a few crimes – but this is something that couldn’t have been stopped without someone with weapons or extraordinary skills being right there, willing and ready to face the shooter.

    Either way, I guess all we can do is comfort victims, condemn people who would follow this lunatic’s example, and maybe fight for things like better funding of law enforcement organisations. Either that or institute the police state.

  8. Stephani D permalink
    July 21, 2012 3:33 AM

    This video might make you feel a little better.
    The weapon we have is love.

    • July 21, 2012 3:56 AM

      Oh damn. 😦 Jessica Redfield, whose note is read in the video, WAS Brent’s friend Jessica Ghawi. Poor girl – who gets involved in two shootings within 2 months?

  9. MikeKz permalink
    July 21, 2012 11:16 AM

    I hate to keep calling this guy crazy. There’s clearly something wrong with him if he was able to such a horrible thing, but “crazy” feels like an excuse for his actions. I don’t want there to be an excuse for his actions. He planned this out, so his mental faculties are intact, at least to that extent. He’s just evil, pure and simple. I don’t know if Colorado has the death penalty, but if not, then he needs to spend the rest of his life in a regular prison, not any sort of mental health facility.

  10. amber permalink
    July 21, 2012 1:06 PM

    What worries me, the shooter implied it wasn’t yet over. Was the man who planned out all this not yet done? The man has some brains. No, to call him a man is a compliment. This monster might be bluffing or truly had worse set up.

  11. July 22, 2012 2:05 AM

    Well written post Marzgirl, however I do take issue with one thing and that was calling this a Super Villain, and not for the reasons most of you are thinking at the moment. I love storytelling, I will read, watch, listen or play to nearly any story told just to see where it goes and how the characters develop and evolve.

    This is not exactly the easiest thing to explain without getting incredibly wordy, which is something I am attempting to avoid so please excuse the roughness of this explanation but a real Super Villain(badly writing aside, but a poorly written villain can hardly be called super) has a goal, will they hurt innocents to sometimes get to this goal, will they cause fear yes but the fear is only a tool of a great villain. For instance The Joker in both The Dark Knight and its inspiring work The Killing Joke both had goals for their madness. The Joker wanted to prove that all it takes is a single bad day for someone to snap and that anyone has a breaking point.

    This Shooter is not a Super Villain, there is no point to spreading this fear it is just senseless violence done by a coward.

    As for your question about where are the Heroes? Well they are all around us. Heroes do not need Super Strength, or magic or powerful artifacts to change the world. All that is required for true heroism one very simple thing, Belief that there is something worth fighting for, working for, sometimes you die for it, sometimes you live for it.

  12. July 22, 2012 2:07 PM

    Your tweets gave an ounce of hope in a very hopeless situation

  13. Björn Brändewall permalink
    July 27, 2012 4:30 AM

    Well written. It reminds me of this:

  14. Eddie permalink
    May 13, 2013 12:30 AM

    Saving Us From Shooters.

    I found this to be from an interesting perspective on these matters.

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