Straddling the line between sending a message and stepping on others’ sensitivity has recently been a difficult balancing act.
Upcoming Movie A Dark Matter?
March 11, 2008 by Danny Lawhon
With the on-campus shootings in the past year at Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, and the University of North Carolina, the mental attitude and of students and grieving process for students closely connected to these events come to the forefront. How long do we wait before things are “back to normal”? In these terms, how soon is too soon?
This question was first addressed shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings when the release of Dark Matter, a movie starring Meryl Streep, loosely based on a shooting at the University of Iowa in 1991, was delayed. The movie tells the story an Asian science graduate student who reacts to the politics of fictional Valley State University and of a patron of the university (Streep) who befriends him. This plot was thought to relate too closely to the events surrounding the Virginia Tech shootings, in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
After the shootings at Northern Illinois last month, the movie’s production company announced the film will be released in April as scheduled after the initial push-back, according to the Associated Press. Gary Rubin, president of First Independent Pictures, said the movie is a good film and stands well on its own merits. He also believes enough time has passed and that his company is not focusing on the shootings anymore. Dark Matter was last year’s Alfred P. Sloan prize winner for science movies at the Sundance Film Festival.
And new today, a blog entry at the Chronicle of Higher Education mentions that the director of counseling and psychological services at Northwestern University is worried that the film will further a developing stereotype of violence on college campuses.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Should the production company have waited longer to release the film? To what extent should movie developers worry about the potential sensitive nature of the subject and others’ feelings about the subject? If the film is produced in good taste, how would that sway the discussion?