Sitting in my San Francisco hotel room this morning, watching CNN’s coverage of the Colorado shootings, something seemed off.
The visual grammar of covering domestic mass-murder is well-established: blonde lady at a desk, authentic-reporter-looking correspondents on the ground, shaken witnesses giving sobbing testimony. Professional reporters and amateur sources, with the former tasked with making sense of the latter.
But not this time. This time, something jarred.
It took watching two or three interviews, with different young witnesses, to realize what the hell was going on. The slickness, the sound bites, the neat closing summary: These people weren’t describing the tragedy, they were reviewing it.
The obvious explanation is, well, obvious. This was a midnight screening of the most nerdily anticipated film of the year. It’s not a stretch to imagine that many of those in the audience were gearing up to review the movie on their blogs and Twitter streams, or on Reddit, or wherever it is we’re supposed to review films today.
Almost all of the witnesses remarked that their immediate reaction upon seeing a masked man bursting into a crowded theatre was to assume that it was all part of the show. Some were probably excitedly reaching for their cameraphones and thinking about YouTube video captions before the all too real shooting began.