Saturday, July 26, 2008

George Bush, Caped Crusader

Many thoughts passed through my mind as I watched The Dark Knight, but certainly not among those was the idea that real-world person Batman most resembles is President Bush.

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."


Andrew Klaven offers up this gem which leads me to believe he wasn't watching the same movie: "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."

If there was one prevailing theme to the movie, it was precisely the opposite of Klaven's suggestion. Indeed, the film is a 150-minute lesson in the ambiguities of morality, that it is in no way simplistic. Even if Klaven drifted off for half of the film he could have caught enough to form a cogent opinion, but alas the readers of the Wall Street Journal were not so lucky.

To adopt Klaven's surface scratching, yes Batman roughs up the Joker and builds a high-tech spy apparatus -- apparently in a day or so, no less -- which would make ACLU members hemorrhage out of their ears, but Klaven ignores another significant character in the movie, the Joker.

For his part, the violet avenger portrays a character much closer to our dear leader, specifically in his ploy to prove the lowest can be brought out in everyone. It is the Joker who employs the Bush tactic of divide-and-conquer by pitting a ferry full of 'innocents' against one full of convicts in an attempt to elicit an LCD reaction.

Here Batman plays the role of Klaven's villains, 'leftists,' by showing to the Joker that even two groups who should be natural enemies can resist the lure of evil, not by engaging in it themselves, but by refusing to be brought down to the level of their puppet master. Picture a boat full of Midwesterners and another full of Iranians.

Further crushing Klaven's thesis is the Joker's continual taunting of Batman, saying that he will fail because he "lacks the courage to do what is necessary." That is, unlike Bush, Batman has rules which he won't break, rules the Joker is not bound by. For Klaven to be proven right, Batman and his scruples would have to fail. Needless to say, that does not happen.

Furthermore, at the start of the climactic scene, instead of Batman rushing in to save hostages, the SWAT teams would have started firing and killed the hostages, thus promoting Klaven's favored route of "invade first, ask questions later."

The only thing even approaching support of Klaven's thesis is the few boundaries Batman pushes in his pursuit of the Joker. The Joker, however, most closely resembles President Bush's desire to pit people against each other, making mortal enemies out of purely unrelated groups to serve his interests and further his own pleasure. The Joker's cause is furthered by fear throughout, and that is a parallel that can be drawn without half the effort Klaven employs in trying to drag a promotion of Bush policies out of a Summer blockbuster.

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