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What Bush and Batman Have in Common

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by rjh2000, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. rjh2000

    rjh2000 Contributing Member

    Apr 26, 2002
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    What Bush and Batman Have in Common
    July 25, 2008; Page A15

    A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

    Oh, wait a minute. That's not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a "W."

    Warner Bros. Pictures
    There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

    And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society -- in which people sometimes make the wrong choices -- and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

    "The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

    Conversely, time after time, left-wing films about the war on terror -- films like "In The Valley of Elah," "Rendition" and "Redacted" -- which preach moral equivalence and advocate surrender, that disrespect the military and their mission, that seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism, have bombed more spectacularly than Operation Shock and Awe.

    Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like "300," "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia," "Spiderman 3" and now "The Dark Knight"?

    The moment filmmakers take on the problem of Islamic terrorism in realistic films, suddenly those values vanish. The good guys become indistinguishable from the bad guys, and we end up denigrating the very heroes who defend us. Why should this be?

    The answers to these questions seem to me to be embedded in the story of "The Dark Knight" itself: Doing what's right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one crucified.

    Leftists frequently complain that right-wing morality is simplistic. Morality is relative, they say; nuanced, complex. They're wrong, of course, even on their own terms.

    Left and right, all Americans know that freedom is better than slavery, that love is better than hate, kindness better than cruelty, tolerance better than bigotry. We don't always know how we know these things, and yet mysteriously we know them nonetheless.

    The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love.

    When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, "He has to run away -- because we have to chase him."

    That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.

    Perhaps that's when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day.

    Mr. Klavan has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. His new novel, "Empire of Lies" (An Otto Penzler Book, Harcourt), is about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror.
  2. lpbman

    lpbman Member

    Dec 12, 2001
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    The only thing Bush and Batman have in common is that they are cartoons.
  3. rocketsjudoka

    rocketsjudoka Contributing Member

    Jul 24, 2007
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    I don't know if this is a joke but I'll take it on since this is the D & D.

    This is piece is an incredibly simple reading of the Batman story and one that doesn't do justice, no pun intended, to what makes Batman a compelling story. While Batman can easily be read as a neo-conservative ideal regarding a man taking action in the name of his principles in the face of a liberal and polictically correct society that will tolerate crime rather than offend somebody what makes Batman / Bruce Wayne interesting is that he is deeply troubled by that and recognizes there is something very wrong with what he is doing. So far from being just being a simplistic figure of good out to fight evil with no self-reflection he is consciously aware that to some extent he is evil himself and the challenge is reconciling that understanding with his primal desire to punish wrong doing.

    [rquoter]That's real moral complexity. And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; [/rquoter]

    One of the most obvious moral quandries regarding Batman is that he doesn't kill and tries his hardest to save even the most evil villain's life. This is one of the main tools of dramatic tension regarding Batman in that both in the current movie and other versions he is very often faced with a situation where he could easily solve most of his problems by simplying killing the villian yet no matter how many times he has the Joker cornered, even when the Joker goads him onto kill him, he doesn't. Unlike the GW Bush and other advocates of using war push moral causes Batman never sees even his most dangerous enemies lives as forfeit and rather than dismiss the lives of bystanders who might get killed or hurt in his attempt to stop the villian as "collateral damage" he agonizes over that and will risk his own life and his mission to protect bystanders. In other words the Batman would never drop a 1,000 lb bomb on a house with civillians in it just to kill the Joker. He wouldn't eve try to kill the Joker in the first place.

    The Dark Knight is perhaps the best Batman story to express this. There is a reason why Batman tells Harvey Dent that he (Dent) is Gotham's hero not the Batman. Batman fully understands that he is in many ways as much as outlaw as the Joker and that only a district attorney like Dent who is part of the law can be the hero of Gotham. Anything else would be an acknowledgement of just how hopeless it is to turn Gotham into a law abiding society. As is finally revealed why the Joker sought to destroy Dent is to prove to Batman how ultimately futile it is to believe in a lawful society when humanity really comes down to brutality whether by the Joker or by the Batman.

    So while I'm sure many neo-conservatives might look to the Batman as a symbol for their ideal of using force in the name of good against a stifling Liberalism that tacitly allows evil to flourish Batman is far more complex than that which makes him much more interesting.
  4. DaFingerWag

    DaFingerWag Member

    Mar 16, 2008
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    The mayor in Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns tried to appease the leader of a band of terrorists and thugs called the Mutants by negotiating with him. Guess what the leader of the Mutants did to him.

    <b>Vote McCain 2008, a person who doesn't appease terrorists like the liberals do.</b>
  5. weslinder

    weslinder Contributing Member

    Jun 27, 2006
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    What Bush and Batman have in common:

    They both got distracted fighting a new villain, and never finished off the original villain.
  6. Apollo Creed

    Apollo Creed Contributing Member

    Aug 25, 2001
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    And the new villain was someone who wouldn't have bothered us had we not interfered...using extremely unreliable information from an untrustworthy source...
    #6 Apollo Creed, Jul 25, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2008
  7. thacabbage

    thacabbage Contributing Member

    Jun 30, 1999
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    i don't have time to respond to this right now but damn i needed a good laugh. thanks. im going to go fix dinner now.

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