Last Saturday morning, I was horrified to learn that a 24-year-old masked gunman, later identified as James Holmes and armed to the teeth with a shotgun, an assault rifle and a revolver, entered a cinema in Aurora, Colorado during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" and opened fire on the moviegoers.
When the shooting stopped, 10 people were killed and 50 were injured, many of them seriously. Two more died in a hospital where they were being treated. Holmes was later arrested in his car in the parking lot and did not offer any resistance. He told the police officers his apartment was booby-trapped.
It was horrific, truly a dark night in Colorado.
Jokes in bad taste
Sunday noon, I got sick to my stomach when Joey de Leon and Edu Manzano, hosts of TV 5's "Game and Go," cracked jokes related to the tragedy in a newscast spoof. Joey said certain individuals were asking the government to legalize pirated DVDs because it's safer to watch movies at home.
Edu countered with a crack about a police officer who rushed to the scene and asked a bystander, "Anong kaguluhan ang nangyayari sa loob ng sinehan?" His reply, "Walo po tsip, may shooting lang." There were more corny jokes punctuated by scantily clad dancers gyrating onstage.
The jokes were really in bad taste and demonstrated how low the people behind the noontime show will go to get cheap laughs. While people in the U.S. and elsewhere were grieving with the affected moviegoers and their families, "Game and Go" chose to trivialize the tragic event.
In no mood for Batman trivia
Saturday night, I felt uneasy watching a segment on "Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho" on GMA. It was devoted to Batman and coincided with the theater run of "The Dark Knight Rises." The movie opened last Friday. Jessica featured a collector who's spent close to half a million pesos on Batman action figures and other memorabilia, a fan who dresses up as the Caped Crusader and tangles with a fellow cosplayer (costume player) dressed as The Joker, a Filipino cartoonist who was an illustrator for the Batman comics, a tricycle driver whose real name is Batman Ibarra, and so on.
Ordinarily, I would have enjoyed the segment but because of the Aurora mass murders, I could not concentrate on Jessica's show. Images of people rushing out of the cinema, shouting for help and news reports on the casualties did not put me in the right mood.
Instead, I kept tuning in to the U.S. news stations giving updates on the shooting. Fox News had the best coverage of the story as more details about the gunman emerged. There was no attempt to sensationalize the story like background music accompanying the news clips on "TV Patrol." There were no pixelized shots of the victims which are common in local newscasts.
Human interest stories
Instead there were human interest stories. A woman who had escaped a shooting in Toronto a month earlier in Canada died in the Aurora shooting. A neighbor of Holmes said she heard loud techno music from his apartment and was about to confront him but did not open the door even though it was unlocked (she would have tripped the explosives and the entire apartment building would have been blown to bits). There were interviews with moviegoers who fled unhurt from the scene and psychiatrists trying to explain how anyone could commit such a heinous crime.
Throughout the day, there were updates on the shooter. Holmes graduated from the University of California in Riverside with a Bachelor's degree in Neurosciences. He had enrolled for a doctorate at the University of Colorado but dropped out last month. He has no criminal record. When the police contacted his mom in San Diego, they were intrigued by her comment, "You have the right person."
Yesterday, I watched "The Dark Knight" for the second time and when I saw persons entering the cinema while the movie was going on, I was a bit paranoid and wondered if the Aurora shooting could happen in the Philippines. I heaved a sigh of relief when they took their seats. As the screening continued, I could not help but replay images of the scene in Aurora as well as Joey and Edu on TV5's "Game and Go" and the show's warped sense of humor.