As if we didn’t have enough to worry about …
Word arrived yesterday of an incident that brought a queasy sensation and again raised the question: Are our megaplexes a potential terrorist target waiting to happen?
The Columbus Dispatch reported an 8-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital Sunday after being jabbed in the back by a needle that had been wedged in a theater seat. It was no accident. The sewing needle, protruding from the top of a ballpoint pen, formed a makeshift hypo. Authorities said that the boy, apart from being “a little shaky,“ was fine and that they were testing the needle.
No doubt a teen prank or the work of one very twisted individual, the incident nevertheless points up how vulnerable our nation’s theaters are.
Who among us hasn’t felt a twinge of anxiety when something brushed up against his leg in the dark of a theater? We are, for all intents and purposes, totally exposed to whatever’s out there.
As far as I can tell, local theaters are only protected by exit signs, smoke detectors, ushers and the occasional rent-a-cop. The National Association of Theater Owners has been surprisingly mute on the topic, choosing instead to concentrate on movie piracy and the closing gap between theatrical openings and VOD. Little wonder Homeland Security has designated movie houses, along with malls and hotels, “soft targets.”
This, despite the fact that theaters in Pakistan and other Asian countries have become easy terrorist targets. Karachi, 2001: “A bomb exploded in a crowded movie theater Sunday, killing at least one person and wounding five others.” Peshawar, 2009: “A powerful car bomb blast at a movie house … killed six people and injured 75.”
At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, the little boy in Columbus reminds us that we can never be totally sure what awaits us in the dark. William Castle, the master of gimmick horror, played on this innate fear with his “Emergo” skeleton and vibrating seats. Last weekend’s stunt, however, left no one giggling. It was like “The Tingler,” only for real.