It’s truly sad that movie theaters have been a soft target since the 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” a Batman movie. But it’s downright depressing when your friend’s teenage daughter, who enjoys her part-time job at a movie theater, comes home with a special bulletin for employees about “The Joker,” opening this week.
The Joker is an archvillain and nemesis of Batman. It’s not hard to imagine that some unbalanced soul with access to firearms will attempt a copycat attack in a movie theater somewhere in America.
“This upcoming film is going to be one of the more challenging films we will have this year,” reads the employee bulletin from the movie theater. “During the opening of this film we will have constant security as well as a couple extra shifts for checking theaters and bags.”
I’m glad they’re being so careful. I’m disgusted that they have to be.
“The Joker” movie
In late September, reports surfaced in Texas that an agency working with the FBI had discovered “disturbing and very specific chatter in the dark web” about the release of “The Joker” movie. A memo based on information in a bulletin from the Texas Joint Crime Information Center mentioned that an unknown theater might be the target of a mass shooting on opening night.
The memo stated, “Commanders need to be aware of this threat for Soldier and family safety and to increase situational awareness should they choose to attend the release of this movie at a local theater.”
So the Department of Defense has this on its radar. And police departments in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles are increasing security around theaters.
But at the other end of the spectrum is my friend’s daughter, bringing home this unnerving bulletin.
Blending caution with calm
In any given theater, the risk is low, but that doesn’t mean you can let down your guard. At the theater where my friend’s daughter works, management is trying to blend caution with calm and using the following language to instruct its employees:
“This film is rated R, but it is a very HARD R. When a family is purchasing tickets for this movie, please let the parents know that this is not a normal action movie and it is considered unsuitable for children. During the opening weekend of this film we will have constant security as well as a couple extra shifts for checking theaters and bags. If you get the A-shift, that is what you will be doing. We will send your schedule out next week, so please read the email thoroughly to know exactly what this shift entails. Please do not take this position lightly. It is the most important job at this theater for that weekend.
“For all guests entering the theater we must enforce the following rules: NO MASKS — NO WEAPONS — NO FACE PAINT — NO LARGE BAGS — NO SKATEBOARDS/SCOOTERS — NO BALLOONS
“If a guest comes into the theater with face paint, we will have makeup wipes ready to have them remove it.
“Checking ID for this movie is SO SO SO important. there will be notices placed at every box terminal showing when a minor turns 17  and when they turn 21 . You must check ID’s every time someone who looks like a minor comes to the windows. They MUST have ID. NO EXCEPTIONS.”
Let’s hope for luck. And let’s work to prevent gun violence.
So it goes. We grown-ups aren’t doing enough to end gun violence in America, so we’re letting the burden roll downhill to our kids. We’re telling them that they’re the ones who have to suck it up. “Check those handbags,” we’re saying. “Don’t let anybody in with face paint. Work in a soft target.”
Maybe we’ll all get lucky this week, and an extreme risk protection order has helped by temporarily removing the guns and ammunition a troubled person would have used in a copycat attack.
That’s what passes for luck in 2019. But for my friend’s daughter’s sake, I wish we could do better.
Jill Marr is a life-long resident of San Diego, a graduate of SDSU and the local Communications Lead for SD4GVP and Moms Demand Action.
image credit: Stars and Stripes