Being Shot at the Movies

I don’t watch much regular TV, but I do like going to the movies once in a while. This week was the premier of a documentary on a local Urban Farming project. A “must see” in other words. I found time on a Friday afternoon, and a good friend to join. Theater was empty when we arrived, we settled in and turned cellphones off. Previews began right away.

That’s when we were shot at.

Not for real of course – this was “just” the a preview of “a regular movie”. But I was certainly startled, nervous system did not immediately catch the fake nature of sound and sight of guns aiming at us, firing off at us and all directions. I ducked in my seat, closed eyes, covered ears… I peaked up at one point only to see what looked like Gaza back in July… then next preview and more so called  a c t i o n… and more duck and cover on my part.

This was for a 2:20pm matinee. A documentary on farming. I had considered bringing the 13 year old! I was ready to go talk with management, but then the feature film actually began.

In some ways, this was a reality check: This degree of violence is what most of my fellow westerners consume on a regular basis, for hours at a time. The bodily response gets desensitized, the mind programmed into duality of “good” and “bad”. No wonder we’re a bit lacking in trust and consideration of one another in this culture!

No wonder people think that killing ‘whoever offends them’ seems like a regular way to deal with differences or conflict. The double standard of culture and gunlaws saying “yes, go ahead” while it’s still illegal to take a life. The old saying “kids don’t do what you say, they do what you do” playing out in a larger context, where “media consumers” do what “people in media” do.

Of course there is another way. It might be trickier and messier and even take more time… but we are hardwired for compassion – the same wiring that made my nervous system unable to discern between real and fake – and we are intrinsically interdependent with one another. At least for me, I need others to grow the food I eat, build the house I live in and make the clothes I wear. It would be a good idea for everyone to build relationships instead of arsenals.

I did go find a manager after the film was over. He was understanding to my concern and said “I’ll see what I can do”, but he also has a responsibility and contracts with “numbers of showings” that he has to take into account. I get that. But he repeated (twice) “I’ll see what I can do”.

Berkeley, November 15


PS. The documentary itself was great and hugely inspiring…

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