Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Batman is Jesus; personal morality is the only hope for society

Today I saw in The Dark Knight Rises (IMDB) at some theater in western Cook County. My friend who leans toward a libertarian outlook and dislikes police saw the movie having a pro-police state subtext. I did not.

I saw the film as being mostly a Christian film. Batman is Jesus. And Bane & company are sort of an evil--or at least frustrated-at-humanity--version of God reneging on His promise to not destroy the world after The Flood.

Batman is the Jesus figure because he understands man's sins, but is willing to sacrifice himself to prevent the destruction of mankind. [Minor spoiler included after break.]
DKR has a pretty grim view of society and human culture. Humans can build all sorts of things: weapons, energy sources, corporations, police forces, etc. All these things can and will be repurposed for evil unless individual morality intervenes. And practically no one is moral enough to be trusted. Even Batman's morality is suspect pressuring Commissioner Gordon to sell the lie that Harvey Dent was a hero and Batman was the true villain. There's one character who is ethical through the movie, a police officer named Blake.

One of things that is attractive to me about DKR is that it deals with the impulse to be moral by destroying that which is immoral. Bane, like Ra's Al Ghul before him, is obsessed with purifying Gotham by destroying it. Although Bane wants to show Batman and the world that Gotham is morally unfit before the destruction.

The ethical/ideological point that seems worth noting is that DKR is pro-monarchy. It posits that having children born into privilege, like Bruce Wayne, are the best hope of dealing with the temptations of abusing power. Good royals can provide inspiration to courtiers like Lucius Fox and Blake. For more on the royalty angle see Elias Isquith (Balloon Juice) who quotes from Gavin Mueller (Jacobin).

I'm not buying Mueller's point that DKR is an attack on Occupy. Bane merely uses rhetoric to manipulate people to achieve his largere objectives. His larger objective is to expose Gotham as immoral and then destroy it.

The main threat DKR sees is power, especially weaponized technology, in the hands of people who are arrogant enough to impose their morality on others without taking into account of the lives and human rights sacrificed along the way.

This seems much more like a swipe at Bush/Cheney, Neo Liberalism, Dispensationalism, Zionism and other ideologies of the Right than it sounds like a criticism of Occupy or any progressive movements.

While it's easy to point at DKR favoring royalty and heroes. Batman's last line of the movie is, "Anyone can be a hero. [Even through simple gestures of kindness.]"

1 comment:

  1. It does a good job skewering the corruption of everyone in Gotham (orphan boys excepted, of course). The Bruce Wayne character does not get a pass for hibernating for 8 years. The most corrupt are the wealthiest ... and Bane is just a tool too. Given the very end, can you really contend that Batman makes the ultimate sacrifice?

    I thought it was very confusing in it's morality: neither the rich nor the poor were good -- and the only pure were the orphans, esp. if they were male. Female orphans a bit suspect. The motive of the bad guy at the end I didn't find emotionally connected. That was the plot twist the kid didn't like, the one too many.