Monday, July 28, 2008

Spoiler Alert! The Dark Knight is an Unmasked Bush Apologist

Let me begin by saying that I am not a Batman fan. I think he is corporate criminal who focuses on street crime while Bruce Wayne's "Wayne Enterprises" acts as an international hi-tech arms dealer. As presented In various forms of the media (comic books, cartoons, and movies), Wayne's conglomerate is involved in many questionable industrial enterprises -- from petroleum extraction and chemical processing to bio-tech and corporate control of the media (through his ownership of the Daily Planet from Superman fame). So while I am in awe of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the same way that I am in awe of Rupert Murdoch or Dick Cheney, I am not a fan of the character and do not see him as a hero.

This current movie goes to new lows for Batman, but before we get to the current movie... first let's look at some of his more well known foes from previous movies. The Poison Ivy character, best known from the 1997 movie Batman & Robin, is an overt environmentalist (albeit a misanthropic one) who overtly and directly accuses Wayne Enterprises of environmental crimes as the motivation for her hostilities. Bruce Wayne quickly produces some greenwashing to his millionaire friends as a response to show her up. In the more recent Batman Begins (2005) the chief protagonist is a militant environmentalist (albeit a misanthropic one) in Ra's al Ghul. Both times, the environmentalist villains are handily dispatched by the billionaire corporatist Bruce Wayne in the form of his technologically enabled alter ego. I could go on with other villains created or motivated by Wayne Industry's indiscretions, but you get the idea.

In this latest film (in theaters now -- you should sneak in like I did) Batman's foe, The Joker (quite adequately portrayed by the late Heath Ledger), speaks the language of anarchy quite overtly (albeit maniacally and with no ethics or morality) and even goes so far as to burn hundreds of millions of dollars as a subtle means to contrast himself with the uber-capitalist Bruce Wayne. Who will emerge victorious is obviously not in doubt -- the billionaire or the crazy anarchist trying to bring down the system of subtle exploitation and control.

Now admittedly, the Batman stories have always readily portrayed the corruption of the police. And while this adds a bit of realism to the fictitious universe, the corrupt cops always end up getting punished and the "honorable" Commissioner Gordon always does what the state would have him do without being bribed by other organizations (that would pay him more for similar activities). He may be getting some kickbacks from Wayne Enterprises, but that's mostly speculation. The point is... the villains are always portrayed in simplistic black & white terms -- and the "good" guys always win.

Even in this latest movie Bruce Wayne engages in most questionable activities, but it's all presented as justified and is always successful. Torture, for example, works for Batman and he readily employs it as a dependable tactic. Anyone who studies the subject should know however that torture rarely works and is often simply used to add injury to incarceration (ala Guantanamo Bay). The main reason it works in this latest movie is because the Joker enjoys being tortured and was planning on giving up the information anyway. Yep... the crazy anarchist enjoys being tortured. That does not bode well in the actual world for political prisoners of would-be interrogators who can't tell the difference between reality and fiction.

In terms of privacy... Batman uses his supercomputer to make every cell-phone in the city an active microphone which can not only listen in on and analyze all conversations, it can also make live visual images of all activities in range of a cell-phone. That's right... the corporate super-"hero" is actually Big Brother -- and it's justified since The Joker just has to be caught after all and this is obviously the only way.

Finally, a hero that the Bush administration can relate to -- Jack Bauer eat your heart out. It's disgusting. Of course, in the movies and comic books, Batman causes a minimal amount of "collateral damage," unlike the real world "heroes" of the USA.

So I ask, do we really need another shallow apologist for the backwards policies of the Bush administration? He may be fictional, but Bruce Wayne/Batman is also quite popular -- especially with the young. I suggest we try to find some real heroes and make sure that this Batman character is revealed for the oligarchic fascist he is.

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