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Take Back Your Weekend: "The Dark Knight Rises" and The Healing Power of Movies

Jason Hirschhorn: "I ask of you, get up, rise, go see 'The Dark Knight Rises' this weekend. Not a Batman fan? Not your thing? Then see any movie"

Some deranged individual walked into a Colorado movie theater showing The Dark Knight Rises and murdered and wounded innocent people. Press reports have the death toll at 13 and over 70 injured. The tragedy is unspeakable and all of us are grief stricken for the victims and their loved ones. We're also scratching our heads at another event that defies all that's right in the world.

After the shock, what happens in these events is sadly inevitable. Leaders step up and politicize it. False reports of political associations. Discussions mount on whether Hollywood instigates this kind of violence. Who knew about this maniac and when? News reports that frighten us.

Though I do hope that this brings up yet another conversation on assault weapons. Do you really need an assault rifle to hunt with?

What happened to crazy?

Hear me now.

Sometimes crazy is just crazy. Evil is just evil.

As one of my favorite societal truthtellers Chris Rock once said:

"Everybody wants to know what the kids was listening to. What kind of music was they listening to? Or what kind of movies was they watching? Who gives a fuck what they was watching? Whatever happened to crazy? What happened to crazy? What, you can't be crazy no more? Did we eliminate 'crazy' from the dictionary?"

This guy wired his apartment to blow and it would have taken out his entire neighborhood. There is no explanation but crazy. Those people exist in the world. They are not the majority. They are few and there's no shot we're going to change the way we live because of crazies.

Here were hundreds of people staying up late to see the most anticipated movie of the summer. To have fun, to experience wonder. To see something they likely followed since childhood. A superhero re-made by the finest Hollywood has to offer. Christopher Nolan is pure and simple, a genius. One of the greatest filmmakers of our lifetime. Christian Bale, since he was a child prodigy, an amazing acting talent.

And now, some nut tried to stop all that. 

Well, don't let him.

I ask of you, get up, rise, go see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. I've been trying for two weeks to get tickets on Fandango and every show, every theater is sold out. Not a Batman fan? Not your thing? Then see any movie.

Me and Movies

2012 has not been my year. On a personal front, I've been figuratively "punched in the face" a few times with health issues plaguing me and loved ones. One bad thing happening after another. I wouldn't walk under any scaffolding with me right now. Sometimes you just hit a bad streak. 

Going to the movies has always brought me great joy. I can have the worst day and yet when I walk into a theater and those lights go down and the picture starts, for few hours I drift off into another world. Completely displacing any bad thoughts and problems with fantasy, emotion, fun and laughter.

Movies have often healed me.

MySpace, Saving Private Ryan, Goodfellas and AvataR

A few years ago I was President and Chief Product Officer of MySpace. I joined at a time of complete turmoil. The business, product and audience were plummeting. Someone asked me what it was like during that period and I could only answer in movie terms. It was like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan mashed up with Groundhog Day. Every single day.

Weeks into my job I got a call from Jim Gianopulos, Co-Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment, which like MySpace at the time, is owned by News Corp. He invited me over to the studio lot for lunch. For 90 minutes I raddled off questions about movies at an alarming rate and Jim rolled with it. Specifically, I couldn't shut up about Avatar. It was still 7 months away from being released but I had heard so much about it and wanted to know more.

Later that day I got a call from his office: “Jim has set up a screening of Avatar for you tomorrow, bring whomever you like.”

Wow! With all that was going at MySpace I was thrilled. I took as many of the staff as I could and we made our way over to the studio.

I still remember what it was like. We walked down a dark stairway and hall into the basement of one of the buildngs which eventually led to a small, private screening room. The walk reminded me of the one in Goodfellas when Henry Hill takes his date, Karen, through the back entrance of the Copacabana.

As we piled into our seats Jon Landau, the producer of the movie, welcomes us and begins to run through 45 minutes of footage. I remember the first 3D scene of the fictional planet “Pandora.” I just yelled out loud, “No F*cking Way.” Jon showed us other scenes with raw special effects and tons of other cool stuff. For a fan, it was an unforgettable experience. And for those 45 minutes and much of the rest of the day. I forgot about the stresses.

On that day, a movie healed me.

My Eye Sight and PrometheuS

Recently, I had a 3 month bout with double vision brought on by diabetes complications. I'm all right now. But for those 90 days I could barely see. That meant almost no movies or television, two of my greatest passions. But on June 8, 2012, I woke up and it was almost all gone. I could see again. What did I do? What was my first instinct? I called up one of my closest friends and movie-going buddies and went to the opening of Prometheus. I loved that movie. What it said. The questions it asked. The world it created. How it looked. Amazing.

On that day, a movie healed me.

Mom, Me and Ted

When I returned home late that night I got the worst news of my life. My mother called and told me she had lung cancer. I was in shock. From elation to sadness within minutes. Weeks later I'm with her in Los Angeles as she undergoes treatment. Anyone that has gone through this knows you have good days and bad days. Not just the patient, but the family. On one of those bad days I needed a break. I went down to Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade with two friends and saw Ted. For 106 minutes, I forgot the sadness. I laughed so hard I missed a ton of the lines and had to see it a second time. After that, I felt great for hours and begged my mom to see it, which she did and loved.

On that day, a movie healed me.

And my mother, with all she's going through still pushes herself to see around two movies per week. Clearly, that's where I got it from.

Take Back Your Weekend

Warner Bros is in a tough position. They have pulled ads, press events and no public box office comments for the time being. It's a tough call for a studio that's grieving for the victims and in a no-win situation. Especially in this environment of finger pointing. But The Dark Night Rises is still in theaters as are many other wonderful films. Thousands of creative people worked to bring you this magic. Don't miss it or any movie you want to see.

A monster was on the prowl and tried to take happiness from us. That's not going to happen.

Movies deliver a sense of wonder. Go have some fun, forget about your problems. Honor those innocent souls that wanted nothing more but to fall into an entertaining fantasy world for a few hours.

If only for today, let the movies heal you.


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