Friday, July 20, 2012

A Cowardly, Superstitious Lot

Ready for some random rambling?

Batman famously described criminals as "a cowardly, superstitious lot" back in his early days, when explaining the logic behind dressing in a bat suit to scare the bejeezus out of bad guys.
Well, apparently political media pundits also scare easily.  In the least week I read a story where Rush Limbaugh railed against the new Batman movie, angrily lambasting it because the movie's primary antagonist and villain happens to be named Bane.  According to Limbaugh's uninformed logic, the villain named Bane in the new Batman movie is clearly a reference to Mitt Romney's former company, Bain Capital, which has been a source of significant controversy following complaints about the company's outsourcing policies and the impact of those policies on American workers.
According to Limbaugh, the creators of the movie were obviously seeking to create some sort of subconscious link in the minds of their viewers between Bane, the movie's evil villain, and Mitt Romney's association with Bain Capital.
The problem with Limbaugh's thinking, as any good comic geek will immediately know, is that Bane has been around as a major villain in the Batman comics for a long time now (as the article points out, since before Romney made his first bid for elected office).  Furthermore, this Batman movie involving Bane has been in production and preproduction for years- since long before it was ever clear that Romney would end up being the GOP candidate in the 2012 election.
Soooooo to say that a Batman movie about Bane is meant as a Democratic campaign propaganda tool might say a little bit more about the paranoia that Limbaugh suffers from than it does about the actual content of the movie.
Not to be outdone, though, the left wing pundits are decrying the film as an obvious attempt to smear the image of the Occupy protesters and to vilify those who would champion economic equity.  Salon writer David Sirota writes about how the character of Bane is meant as a sort of bogeyman for young, budding American capitalists.  He goes on to try to make more general characterizations regarding a contemporary media environment where rich people are always portrayed as the good and righteous and where poor people are shown as scary villains.  I'm not sure that our media culture has actually moved strongly away from championing the underdog, but Sirota, at least, seems to have a somewhat greater understanding of the character of Bane.  Bane has been sort of portrayed historically as a sort of terrorist figure, and it's not necessarily out of step with history of the character for Nolan to be portraying him in this new film as a political fanatic who wants to start a class war.
But as I understand it, the point of Bane from the comics (and almost certainly in casting him in a villain role in this movie) is to show the danger of an individual who can take a rational, understandable public issue and exploit it into a movement and/or cause of action that's violent and destructive.  I think Nolan's a smart filmmaker, and he probably senses that the best villains are often the ones who have some sort of relatable, rational point to make somewhere within their warped, twisted logic- that they become villains in terms of the way that they violently react to some of the same frustrations and injustices that many normal people feel.
It's not a bad moral for a modern movie- the notion that even a just cause can lead to an unethical, unjust course of behavior once extremism takes hold.  Our political leaders might want to stop and consider that lesson the next time they shut down the government or damage the nation's credit rating through political grandstanding.

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I started this post a couple of days ago, and then, today came the news that 12 people had been killed and up to 50 injured in a spree shooting at a theater in Colorado.
It makes me really sad.  I'm not sure what's wrong with people.
I just want to be sure to point out that I don't see how the shooting really has anything to do with politics (even though that's sort of the theme of this post).
I'm going to publish what I already wrote, but I don't really want to right a whole lot more about this movie for the time being.  Not the movie's fault, but I'm not feelin' it...

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