Is the Letter "W", the Calling Sign of "The Dark Knight"?
Gordon: "Because we have to chase him."
Son: "But he didn't do nothing wrong."
Gordon: "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.So we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not the hero.He's a silent guardian, watchful protector.The Dark Knight."
- From the ending to The Dark Knight
Back on July 21st, I wrote the following, after seeing The Dark Knight:
Although the movie isn't political, the line about "it's always darkest before the dawn" struck a chord in me, as I've used the line to describe Iraq. "Things will start to get worse, before it gets better." Same goes for medical treatments- there's that rough moment when surgery puts you through misery and pain in order to heal you.Apparently, I wasn't the only one who drew political parallels to events in the real world. Others have examined the parallels to a greater degree. Dirty Harry's Place brings to attention, the following NYTimes review:
And in the movie when people were finger-pointing their anger at Batman and those who have tried to protect them, rather than laying blame and responsibility squarely on the shoulders of The Joker....well, you all know where I'm heading with that one.
As Dirty Harry's Place writes:
“The Dark Knight,” which will be released on July 18, is jammed with characters, plot and action. It picks up where “Batman Begins” left off, with Mr. Oldman’s police lieutenant, Jim Gordon, warning about the perils of escalation: that Batman’s extreme measures could invite a like response from the criminal element. And sure enough, a deadly new villain, the Joker, emerges to wreak havoc.
In a political context this would politely be called an “unintended consequence.” (Gotham as Baghdad, anyone?) Mr. Nolan doesn’t deny the overtones. “As we looked through the comics, there was this fascinating idea that Batman’s presence in Gotham actually attracts criminals to Gotham, attracts lunacy,” he said. “When you’re dealing with questionable notions like people taking the law into their own hands, you have to really ask, where does that lead? That’s what makes the character so dark, because he expresses a vengeful desire.”
The idea the New York Times wants to co-opt is that fighting crime creates crime and/or fighting terrorists creates terrorists, which is all kinds of intellectually vacant madness.Dirty Harry's Place also notes another article that sees The Joker as a super-terrorist:
In Variety’s mostly positive but less than rave over Dark Knight, this stood out:
Pic shrewdly positions the Joker as the superhero-movie equivalent of a modern terrorist (one of several post-9/11 signifiers), who threatens to target Gotham civilians until Batman reveals his identity. Batman, Gordon and Dent uneasily join forces, but the Joker seems to have the upper hand at every step, even from a jail cell; the city, turning against the hero it once looked to for hope, seems more fractious, vulnerable and dangerous than ever.
DHP also writes in his movie review,
The Dark Knight may well be the most conservative movie since 300. There’s just no arguing that the Joker is al-Qaeda and Batman George W. Bush. In between are the citizens of Gotham who have a choice: They can cave to terror, turn on their protector and blame his aggressive crime fighting for the rise of the Joker, or they can understand that appeasing a criminal status quo in their city doesn’t convince the Joker’s of the world to see the light and enroll at community college.
The film asks one question: Will Gothamites appease the terrorist? All they need do to satisfy the Joker is to turn on Batman, and until they do, the Joker promises wanton murder and destruction. If the people blame the Joker’s reign of terror on Batman’s refusal to appease him, the Joker wins. If the people turn on each other like animals out of fear and panic, the Joker wins. If Batman becomes the Joker to beat the Joker… Well, you get the point.
Skyepuppy brings to my attention, this article by Andrew Bolt's in the Herald Sun (Australia) July 30, 2008:
FINALLY Hollywood makes a film that says President George W Bush was right.Anti-Bush moonbat liberals, of course, consider the very notion of President Bush as more Batman than Joker, to be "tortured logic":
But director Christopher Nolan had to disguise it a little, so journalists wouldn't freak and the film's more fashionable stars wouldn't walk.
So he hides Bush in a cape. He even sticks a mask on him, with pointy ears for some reason.
Sure, when the terrified citizens of Gotham City scream for Bush to come save them, Nolan has them shine a great W in the night sky, but he blurs it so it looks more like a bird.
Or a bat, perhaps.
And he has them call their hero not Mr Bush, of course, or even "Mr President", but . . . Batman.
And what do you know.
Bush may be one of the most despised presidents in American history, but this movie of his struggle is now smashing all box-office records.
Critics weep, audiences swoon - and suddenly the world sees Bush's agonising dilemma and sympathises with what it had been taught so long to despise.
As this superb Batman retelling, The Dark Knight, makes clear, its subject is a weakness that runs instinctively through us - to hate a hero who, in saving us, exposes our fears, prods our weaknesses, calls from us more than we want to give, or can.
And how we resent a hero who must shake our world in order to save it, or brings alive that maxim of George Orwell that so implicates us in our preening piety: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
Glenn Beck sure said some stupid crap in his lifetime, but the tortured logic he employs here easily makes this one a Top 5 contender. [download file here]“This seems to be a movie that extols some of the conservative viewpoints that we are dealing with terrorists, that you can trust people to make the right decision, that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do, and you have to cross lines that you don’t want to cross, if you’re going to save - if you’re going to save your city, in this case it’s Gotham.
“But Batman goes into another country and with a C130, snatches a guy out, then throws him back here into Gotham. So there’s rendition! At one point, the Morgan Freeman character says to Batman, ‘Wait a minute, hang on…you’re eavesdropping on everyone in Gotham?’ And Batman says, ‘Yes, to stop this terrorist.’ Morgan Freeman says, ‘I can’t be a part of it.’ And yet Morgan Freeman does become a part of it, and they find the Joker. One of the ways they find the Joker is through eavesdropping. I mean the parallels here of what’s going on is to me stunning.”
The Huffington Post and Think Progress also notes a WSJ opinion piece by Andrew Klavan:
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."Come November, will America get the hero it deserves? The hero it needs?
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 [*ahem*]-- 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?
Cross-posted at Flopping Aces