When a tragedy hits, everyone scrambles around to find a reason. It’s uniquely and sweetly in our nature to do this. Our big brains cannot comprehend the chaos and madness that occurs in our world on a daily basis so there has to be a reason. Terrorism is a thing we can understand. Serial killing, to a degree, is something we can wrap our minds around because the motive is usually clear: they are sexual deviants. Random gun crime is also something we get — angry boyfriend, drive-by gang shooting, robbery. Even accidental crimes we get. But mass shootings, where some angry dude opens fire on unsuspecting people? This is something we really don’t yet understand, at least to the point where we can find a way to unplug the phenomenon.
A few film critics want so badly for it to be films and video games. Even Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly, in his very thoughtful piece The End of Empathy on the shootings, mentioned how Jim Holmes thought he was the Joker and failed to mention, yet again, that the Joker had green hair:
But when James Holmes, the 24-year-old lone gunman of the Dark Knight massacre, sat down in court on Monday, he didn’t recede into “anonymous” blankness, and that, of course, is because he was still wearing the chilling emblem of his madness: the hair that he had dyed bright orange, in a Day-Glo simulation of the Joker’s loony-tunes coif. Seeing that hair was more than just creepy and disturbing as hell. It made me angry, as if Holmes was mocking his victims, saying, in essence: I’m still the Joker -— and you’d better believe I’d do it again.
The media needed an easy tagline explanation. Holmes handed it to them on a platter.