Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dark Knight: more politics

Some more political theorizing on The Dark Knight from both right and left.


Alexander Coleman said...

No film has stirred up so much political discussion from all imaginable sides since... I don't know, Munich? At least since There Will Be Blood.

Here's a libertarian take:

I think it's a hard-edged, clear-eyed film that is sort of rubbing our faces in the dirtiness of the world. As I said over at CCC in the comments section of my Dark Knight review, I think possibly its most fundamental message is that we all need the imagery of the White Knight, but at the same time we all need the reality of the Dark Knight.

K. Bowen said...

Hey AC,


Lew Rockwell, I had a girlfriend once .... but that's another story.

I think the thing is that this is heroism shorn of idealism, and it's hard for Americans, and I think particularly on the left, to deal with that. While on the right, it's more accepted that we live in a harsh Hobbesian world, in which sometimes you have to bend principle in order to preserve principle. I also think Kyle Smith has an interesting point about conservatives seeing the world as best of bad choices, while the left sees it as being able to have both things. He expresses it way better than I just did.

I've been trying to say some things in a longer essay, but it hasn't been coming together.

Alexander Coleman said...

I agree, K.B., a lot of it comes down to political perspectives and philosophies.

I actually remember reading a viciously negative review of Batman Begins that attacked the film primarily on political points, as the left-wing critic believed it was depicting a rich guy with serious mental issues attacking the poor criminal class of Gotham. Similarly, there was a review of The Dark Knight that suggested we need to all take responsibility for our society's creation of people like the Joker.

On the whole, it's the left that has been largely finding fault, or at least being uncomfortable, with these two Batman films because of their perceived messages. On the other hand, these films have demonstrated the many problems of the legal system, including widespread corruption throughout a police department, and the films seem to argue that something beyond the strict "law-and-order" system built around the institution of the police is necessary, at least when said institution has gone sour.

K. Bowen said...

I think the Bush=Batman angle is the most immediately tasty and relevant to public discourse. But I'm still not sure if it is applause or a critique, or a bit of both. And I also think that seeing it only through the political lens means missing many of the rich layers of the story.