Every great once-and-a-while, Hollywood will come out with a big-screen movie that features a character of omnipresent effect – a character so overwhelmingly convincing it is known, treasured and remembered by, virtually, everyone everywhere, for eternity.
Clark Gable's Rhett Butler in the iconic 1939 film Gone With the Wind immediately comes to mind.
Who else better exemplifies southern, blue-blood aristocracy?
What about Marlon Brando's Don Vito Corleone in Godfather I, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and released in 1972?
A truly cutting-edge, though accurate, take on a ruthless Sicilian mob boss who made such a lasting impression that we, simply, can not "refuse" him.
The first time I saw Godfather I (spring 1972), I was an 18-year-old college freshman and didn't have a clue regarding the working parts of the "mafia" underworld, where they came from, the nature of their business, their hierarchy (capos, dons), their lingo ("I made my bones," "Sleeps with the fishes"), etc.
Though I was ignorant of these mafia-related facts, I was enamored by, and thoroughly enjoyed, Godfather I, to the extent I commenced studying up on the mafia and organized crime.
Then came Heath Ledger's timeless Joker character in The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins, which hit major theaters in 2008, starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman and directed by Christopher Nolan.
Personally, I feel The Dark Knight is an apt title for this particular production because, over the course of the many movies I've watched, I never have viewed a character as superbly DARK as was Ledger's painted-face, carnival barker-dressing, manically brilliant Joker.
One scene I particularly enjoyed was when the Joker – highlighted by darting eyes, and nervous facial twitches – proudly announced Gotham City deserved a higher class of "criminal."
Who better to deliver than the Joker?
Tragically enough, however, sick "theatrics entered the once family themed theater" when 24-year-old James Holmes, obviously too deep into the Joker's character, stormed into a theater in Aurora, Colo., July 20, during the premier of The Dark Knight Rises, opened fire and killed 12 people, wounding another 58 – a modern-day massacre.
Dressed in combat gear and in possession of a variety of assault-type weaponry, Holmes was arrested shortly after the killing spree.
So horrendous was this needless act, so great was the outcry and media coverage, help came pouring in from law enforcement agencies across the nation. (Resultant, theaters across the nation stepped up security measures.)
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the gunman suspected of attacking the crowd resembled Batman's arch-villain "The Joker."
"It clearly looks like a deranged individual," Kelly said. "He had his hair painted red. He said he was 'The Joker,' obviously the 'enemy' of Batman."
NOTE: The "Joker" was the primary villain in The Dark Knight; "Bane," a corporate terrorist, is the primary villain in The Dark Knight Rises.
Rest assured that Holmes, at one time a doctoral student at the University of Colorado-Denver medical school, will be dissected by a litany of celebrity shrinks, and the media will report with incessant voracity.
Still, prosecutors and high-end defense attorneys will be visiting their hairdressers, purchasing new designer suits, and elbowing each other in an attempt to secure the best possible position in front of the camera.
Many books will be written by the many people associated with the Aurora theater shooting; many will hit the talk-show circuit.
Business as usual, right?
Mind you, in no way am I attempting to make light of the Aurora theater shooting; however, I do find it ironic that our society has sunken to such an abysmal state that violence is one of its greatest money-making commodities.
Of course, we, the public, have the Constitutional right to demand the news; the press has the same Constitutional right to give us the news.
For some reason, I keep thinking about the opening verse to the Don Henley hit, "Dirty Laundry:"
I make my living off the Evening News/Just give me something-something I can use/People love it when you lose/They love dirty laundry
Mike Vinson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.