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LETTERS

Darkness deepens

July 26, 2008

WHILE everyone else is heaping praise upon "The Dark Knight," Batman's latest incarnation, let me raise one voice in protest: What in hell are we doing to ourselves? In one week I mistreated myself to two of this summer's popcorn movies for kids. In the bargain I got to see trailers for another set of demonic, live-action cartoons coming down the pike.

These movies are like nightmares. Last time I looked, nightmares were something you had to work to shake off. They hit you deep where your fears live and agitate you with no offer of healing catharsis. They give you nothing of substance, no nourishment. And where a "Star Wars" at least takes the care to build a mythic epic, this Batman was garble passed off as a story of good triumphing over evil. I may have been a philosophy major and have worked as a successful screenwriter in Hollywood for 15 years, but I'll tell you this much: That story made no more sense to me than it did to the 4-year-old sitting next to me. And there he was -- a 4-year-old, taking it all in: nonstop, merciless killing and destruction.

Is it the chicken or the egg that we love violent movies (and video games) and introduce them to our toddlers without qualm? Chicken or the egg that we are a militaristic country and pride ourselves on it? I am hurt and demoralized to see how we fight harder for our right to have guns in our homes than we do for our right of habeas corpus and the right not to be spied upon. Is it any wonder we can docilely buy into the concept of preemptive war? That we can stand back and feel justified about marching around the planet kicking serious butt, leaving hundreds of thousands of dead in our dust?

We call "The Dark Knight" and "Hellboy" and "Wanted" and a whole host of other exciting romps in mayhem "entertainment." They are not entertainment. They are our deepest, darkest fears glossed up and packaged by brilliant but unconcerned "I'm-just-doing-my-job" businessmen and craftsmen (and women too) to sell popcorn, to keep our society disconnected from our humanity, to grow our children into warmongers. What in hell are we doing to ourselves? We are creating hell on the screen and feeding it to our children. It makes no sense whatsoever.

Vickie Patik

Oxnard

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