Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rushes

(Note: I composed this post before hearing the news of the shootings during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado.  I gave some thought to not posting this, as perhaps some people might find a somewhat snarky post about DKR to be inappropriate at this point in time.  Of course, this piece has nothing to do with that tragedy,  just as it is likely that  the tragedy had nothing to do  with DKR.  The shooter was obviously a very deeply troubled individual and the film that happened to be on the screen when he chose to launch his assault was probably completely immaterial.  Nonetheless, I sincerely apologize to any who might find fault with the timing of this post.)
One of the most astounding traits of the American people is our nearly limitless capacity for outrage.  We are able at the drop of a hat to get ourselves all bent out of shape at the most trivial of provocations.   This quality is not limited to the pundits of the extreme right, though they tend to be the most vocal about and thus garner the most mainstream media attention for their lunatic rantings.  The latest case in point concerns our old friend Rush Limbaugh, who worked himself into a lather on his show a couple of days ago over the fact that the villain in The Dark Knight Rises is Bane, whose name just happens to sound like Bain, as in Bain Capital, the suddenly controversial firm headed by Republican Presidential nominee-to-be Mitt Romney back in the 80's and 90's.
"Do you think that it is accidental," Rush bloviated, "that the name of the really vicious fire breathing four eyed whatever it is villain in this movie is named Bane?"  
(I know that films based on comics often take a lot of liberties with the source material, but does DKR's Bane really have four eyes and breathe fire?  If so, I have got to see this movie!)
While I am familiar with the concept of rhetorical questions, this one deserves an answer.  It is not "accidental" that the film's villain is named Bane.  Few screenplays are written by accident.  It is, however, completely coincidental that the villain's name sounds like the name of Romney's former employer.  
It has, of course, been repeatedly pointed out elsewhere in cyber-land that the character of Bane was created in 1993, long before Mitt Romney even got into politics, much less thought of running for  President.  More germane to to this so-called controversy, however, is that DKR director Christopher Nolan apparently conceived of his Batman films as a trilogy right from the start.  Therefore, it is likely that he had the whole series, including Bane's appearance in the final installment, mapped out before the cameras even rolled on Batman Begins.  That film hit theaters in 2005, three years before Romney's first, unsuccessful quest for the GOP nomination.
Anyway, Rush seems to think that people are going to see this film and come to associate Mitt Romney with a comic book super-villain.  Maybe he's got a point.  After all, I believe it was legendary showman P.T. Barnum who said that no one ever went  broke by underestimating the intelligence of the American people.  (...which sort of sounds like it could be Rush's motto, come to think of it.)  And aren't the voters of this nation so easily misled that four years ago they were tricked into electing a Kenyan-born Muslim Socialist to be their leader?
Because of Rush's comments, Chuck Dixon, writer of Vengeance of Bane, the character's debut appearance, has felt the need to defend himself by asserting that he and VoB artist Graham Nolan are two of the comics industry's staunchest conservatives.
That got me to wondering about something.  If Nolan really is the rock-ribbed Republican that Dixon says he is, how did he feel about drawing Hawkworld, a comic with a unabashedly liberal point of view?   He probably, I suppose, viewed it as just another job.  There's certainly no indication in the issues he drew that he was giving the assignment any less than his best effort. 
I've noted before that there seems to be something almost inherently right wing in the very concept of the super-hero.  This sort of makes me wonder why I remain a fan of the genre.  According to a quiz that I recently took on Facebook, my own political views would appear to be more in line with those of the Presidential candidate of the Green Party.


  1. What the fuck is it about Rush Limbaugh that makes everyone so god-damned apologetic all the time? It's high time people started calling this paranoid, ignorant, self-important, blow-hard loudmouth idiot asshole on his bullshit.
    In droves.
    Starting now and not stopping until HE'S the one who's scared to speak up.

    By the way, Ray, here's a brain-teaser for you: If Rush Limbaugh spouts out ignorance and hatred on the radio, and no one is tuned in to listen, does he actually make a sound?

    1. Unfortunately, we're probably not likely to find out any time soon.

  2. IIRC, it was H. L. Mencken who said that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. P.T. Barnum supposedly said that there's a sucker born every minute. As for the concept of super heroes, I don't know if they are inherently right-wing or left-wing. In his book "The Great Radio Heroes," Jim Harmon said that masked crusaders like the Lone Ranger and Green Hornet paid lip service to conservative values (e.g. law and order), "but they acted on the liberal premise that unjust laws may be broken." It may be that whichever party is in power at the time will advocate blind obedience to the government, and will accuse any dissenters of anarchist terrorism. The out-of-power party will invoke the First Amendment, and will compare themselves to Revolutionary War patriots. BTW, I'm neither a Democrat nor a Republican. Both parties are controlled by Wall Street, both represent only special interests, and neither party represents more than 10% of the population.

  3. The super hero genre necessarily advocates vigilantism, but that could be right-wing or left wing. Conservatives applauded "Death Wish" and "Walking Tall," while liberals liked "Billy Jack" and "Thelma and Louise," and sympathize with OWS. If the super-hero genre is inherently anything, it is adolescent power fantasy. Which probably ties in with a natural desire to cut corners and instantly deal out justice to wrongdoers, whether they are brutal muggers or greedy CEO's.