BLOG The Dark Knight And Why The Telegraph Should Hang Its Head In Shame

The Dark Knight Rises premiered in cinemas around the world today. All across my Twitter feed and Facebook page, friends have been excitedly commenting about how they are going to see it at various points throughout the day. I’m jealous – I’m moving house tomorrow, so have been denied that pleasure, for a couple of days at least.

And then a single, impossible tweet appeared that made me do a double take. There has been a mass shooting in Denver, Colarado, at a midnight screening of the film. The report was quickly confirmed. The suspect has been arrested, but at the time of writing, 14 are dead with many more injured. It’s a massacre.

This is obviously awful, shocking news for all involved, from the people in the cinema, to their families and the venue owners. Predictably, though, tasteless “jokes” are already doing the rounds. The internet seems to bring out the inherent dickhead in a lot of people – particularly ignorant, anonymous teenage boys with nothing better to do. You scowl, you ignore them, you move on. But then SFX‘s Russell Lewin tweeted a link that filled me with me anger. A piece on the website of the British newspaper, The Telegraph entitled “Batman cinema shootings: the curse of The Dark Knight”.

I’m not going to link to it, because this is “journalism” of the very worst order. A shock story cynically designed as click bait. Remember Jan Moir’s bigoted response to Stephen Gately’s death? Or Samantha Brick’s hilarious, deluded, “Women hate me for being so beautiful,” piece from a couple of months back? This is writing of the same calibre. Shameless sensationalism written by a hack with no regard for the people whose lives have been affected and destroyed. No, it’s not the work of a sick human with access to weapons – it’s a curse!

The reason for this theory is, of course, the sad deaths of Heath Ledger and stunt man Conway Wickliffe in 2008, as well as a raft of other (non-fatal) accidents that have happened during the course of filming the trilogy. The piece neglects to mention that accidents happen on ALL films – and indeed in all work places. The tragedy of Ledger and Wickliffe’s deaths, and those killed just hours ago, have now been roped into what can politely be described as spurious bullshit.

“British news press lacks morals,” is hardly a headline. It’s been clear for a long time. But it’s shocking that The Telegraph – a paper that is, if not exactly respected, is certainly considered a cut above tabloid trash like The Sun and the Daily Mail should stoop so low, and so soon after the deaths of so many innocent people, who just wanted to go and watch the new Batman film. Our thoughts are with those people now.

Will Salmon