Jul 24, 2008

Why I Haven't Seen The Dark Knight

Sorry that I've been absent for over a week from the blogosphere.  I know some of you count on my posts to help you get through your day - like air and water.  I have had a lot I wanted to write about, but finding time was hard - for a variety of reasons.  But, between writing a sermon, cleaning the house, getting a new job at the Apple Store, dealing with a broken A/C, and going to Sea World on the hottest day of the year I have not found myself ready to post.

One thing I have not done since I wrote last is see The Dark Knight.  I know some of you just fell out of your chair.  "What?!?  David - you, one of the biggest movie and Batman fans around.  You haven't seen The Dark Knight?  What's wrong with you."  Trust me.  I wanted to see it.  I tried to find a way to go.  But there were several reasons that didn't happen.
  1. Heather and I wanted to go together.  We saw Batman Begins on IMAX together when it came out.  So we wanted to go see the new one on IMAX as well.
  2. The IMAX tickets for the entire first weekend sold out by Thursday night.  So we were left without a show time.  We decided to try to go to a (sigh) regular theater instead.
  3. We don't want to take the kids - especially Gabriel.  We have taken the baby to movies, but this was was different.  The violence, darkness, and such made it seem like something he shouldn't be exposed to.  But we have never left Gabe with anyone who wasn't family for that long.  And we didn't have anything set up.
  4. The schedule just wasn't working.  Once you get into the aforementioned problems, you can see why I haven't had time to sit for 2.5 hours in a theater.
But then something happened.  I don't know how many of you know my history with movies.  Some of you have been around for some of this, so it may be a repeat story.  In my house growing up, we didn't watch movies.  By the time I entered high school, I had seen exactly FOUR movies in the theater: The Muppet Movie, Great Muppet Caper, Black Stallion, and The Great Chipmunk Adventure (yes, their was a FIRST chipmunk movie).  So I didn't get to see all the big stuff that came out in the 1970s or 1980s.  I documented this in an earlier post.  

The first REAL movie I saw was the 1989 Batman.  I was blown away.  I fell in love with movies instantly.  I started to get into movies: watching them, reading about them, studying them.  I became a good critic of movies because I watch them on so many levels - enjoyment, critical, religious, cultural impact.  In fact, I got so into movies that they started to run my life.  I saw stuff I shouldn't.   I spent money I didn't have.  And slowly they took too high of a place in my life.  On May 19, 1999 something happened to me.  God finally got me to realize that movies had become a God.  That was a Wednesday.  Star Wars Episode I opened that day.  I had scheduled a college event for that night.  After Bible study at 9pm, we would go to the 10:30pm showing.  It was one of biggest events ever.  About 4pm, I called my buddy Greg Ramer and told him I needed his help.  We went to my house, put all of my movies in the back of his truck (along with all my comic books) and took them back to the church and tossed them in the dumpster.  This was before DVD, so it was like 180 videotapes - mostly widescreen.  And then I quietly gave away my ticket to the film.

Everyone took off the theater after Bible study and I got in my car.  I just drove - as far away as I could go.  I went as far north up I-75 as I needed to.  I made sure that there was no way I could make it back in time for the movie before I turned around.  My cell phone started ringing as all the students noticed I wasn't there.  I went back to my house and my roommate Marc, the youth pastor, was there.  He was like, "Why aren't you at the movie?"  I told him and just went in my room and cried.  I didn't see another movie for six full months, until I felt I had broken the hold and was free. [The first movie back was Toy Story 2 on one of my first dates with Heather.]  And I still have never seen Star Wars Episode I-III.  The original trilogy was one series that really signified to me my giving in to the movie obsession so many years ago, so it was my way of never allowing that to happen again.

The growth I had in Christ after that decision was huge.  It wasn't because movies are bad.  I to this day will debate anyone about that.  It was because I gave them too much authority in my life.  And the other day I realized that I was on the verge of entering dangerous ground again.  Movies are nowhere near as important to me as they were in 1999.  I have been watching a lot of them this summer - I saved money to have it for the tickets.  And I have had a blast.  But with The Dark Knight, I noticed something disturbing.  I was angry that I wasn't able to go when I wanted.  I was frustrated about the thought of missing it.  And it started to affect how I dealt with my family.  I had heard all the glowing reports.  But I also had heard all the people talking about the violent, and how the Joker was so disturbing.  Why did I want to put that stuff in my head?  Especially when I fight so much from slipping into darker moods anyway?  But the thought of missing it was too much to take.

So on Sunday, I told Heather I wasn't going to go.  She just looked at me with a big of a stunned look, and then an understanding smile.  I said that I had to do that.  I needed a break from the movies.  My brain didn't like that choice.  Immediately, I started to think about stuff coming out this Fall and Winter I wanted to see.  And that strengthened my resolve.  I needed to stop.  And I needed to give up THIS movie - BECAUSE of its importance.  This movie is the movie I would never have missed in a million years.  This is the one in years past, when I saw five movies, that I would have gone to.  It was Batman.  It was a huge success.  It was a critical success.  And that is exactly why I need to stay away.

I know I made the right choice.  I felt freedom immediately.  I don't want to go.  Sure, I still am fascinated by the ridiculous money it is making.  I'm not saying I'll never see it.  I probably will see it on inDemand on cable, or on DVD.  I may even buy it.  But right now, I am not going to go.  I need to take that stand for my own good.  Why am I telling you this?  I'm not sure.  Maybe it is because I've already gotten the "you haven't seen Batman yet?" questions.  Maybe it is because my summer movie list on this blog seems awkwardly unfinished.  Maybe I'm taking away any chance that I could back out on my decision.  Maybe I just wanted to share.  Maybe it is my way of reminding you how easy it is to be mastered by something.  Take it for what its worth.  For me, it is worth a lot.


Diane said...

Well done. And congratulations on the new job!!

Anonymous said...

Dude. Wow.

How is the Apple Store? Do you get a discount??? :)

Anonymous said...

This is pure crazytalk. And exactly why I give churches a wide berth. If you have an issue with being obsessed with movies, it has nothing to do with Jesus or whatever other fantasy creatures you worship (that's a bigger issue, right there- but I digress). Furthermore, your parents were freaks for not letting you live a normal life like every other kid on the planet.

Sorry, i just had to get that out. Here's a movie recommendation for you- Religulous.

David M. Staples said...

Dear Anonymous -

I'm glad you got that off your chest. I hope you feel better about yourself. I'm sorry to tell you, though, that your assessment of me, my family, and my beliefs will have absolutely no bearing on anything whatsoever. But at least you were able to tear into someone that you don't even know.