Batman and America, Super Heroes In Arms?
After seeing the new batman movie The Dark Knight and it having time to sink in over the last few days, I was thinking about some of the underlying themes and plot lines within the movie. After much thought I realized that a couple of them, and batman in general, were analogous to America and world events today. Even one of the movie posters have me thinking about this. Does that scene look familiar? Take my opinion, as with all of my opinions, with many grains of salt, but I find it hard to believe the producers and directors don’t intentionally create subliminal messages or simple subtext. So, let’s begin.
One of the quick and obvious correlations between America and Batman would be the need for temporary private data collection, giving them the tools to save lives in the battle against terrorism. Batman’s cellphone SONAR program, regardless of it’s blatant intrusion on privacy, was temporarily necessary to stop the bad guy of the day. Yes, Batman may have played fast and loose with civil liberties, but he ensured it was put into place in a temporary fashion, giving someone else control to end the program immediately after it’s use was no longer needed.
Batman is also a young naive rich man with big ideals and even bigger ideas. Nice Batpod, dude! Nice space shuttle, man! America gets labeled with the, “oh, you’re like a rich teenager with a bunch of money to burn trying to tell others how to live or what to do.” I’ve been told by several people that America is looked upon world wide as a rich child incapable of making rational decisions because of its rather young existence on the world stage. Even though both Batman and America have saved everyones asses before, no one really cares now. Both Gotham and the world have very short term memories and a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Remember, two of Batman’s greatest assets (since he has no super powers) is his youth and, well, his assets. Exuberant youth and tons and tons of cash to spend and do what is needed to win. This is also one of America’s strongest assets as well. What some feel is blind arrogance I feel is one of our most important assets — youth and money. Old and rich just gets you someone like Alfred… also known as a country like England. Wise yes, but the wherewithal to fight the good fight is just not there like it used to be back in the glory days. Keep trying to give us good advice old chap, but after that just bring us our work boots, tights, and cape please.
Batman also has certain codes, codes he tries to never break, even when it’s at a detriment to himself. He will sacrifice and put himself in harm’s way just to ensure these codes aren’t broken and civilians are protected. Nothing sounds more American than this one. We’ve bent over backwards to minimize civilian casualties and protect civilians and have lost good men in the process. Soldiers lay their lives down every day in the world in an attempt to protect the innocent. That’s what we do, protect the innocent. Do you really think oil rich next door neighbors Canada and Mexico would exist today if our “super power” was used for imperialistic purpose? Of course not, but we have a code, we have honor.
An even more glaring but not as obvious similarity was what Alfred said to Batman. And I paraphrase, “The ones doing the hard and nasty work necessary to ensure the survival of civilization is almost universally hated for taking on said task.” Not sure what the exact quote was (I will find it soon), but sitting in the movie at the time I felt the statement explained well what America is going through now. Sometimes the right thing to do makes you unpopular and unlovable, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the right thing to do and that it still has to be done. If you’re lucky only half of the people involved will hate you for your actions. Alfred’s point was that it’s easy to be liked when you’re doing nothing and not getting your hands dirty. Some politicians want us to be liked all around the world and will pay any long term cost for such a short term gain. Anyone who has ever done anything that requires making tough decisions knows full well you’re more than likely not going to be liked for making them. But who’s going to make them? Canada? France? Germany? These countries, which I like to call Robin, are great as sidekicks but would get their asses handed to them without Batman there to bail them out. Trust me, the Jokers of the world like Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam, would love for these much loved countries of the world to be the only “super powers”. Villains love job security.
So, it’s easy. We can finally be liked again simply by going back to the days of a playboy like Bill Clinton (Bruce Wayne pre-batman), where we drop a few dollars on charity events here and there (symbolism over substance), making us feel good and loved by all, but solve and preserve nothing. Or, we can fight our enemies to protect what we hold to be true and right while being a target figuratively and quite literally. Ultimately, we’ll be hated by all who take freedom for granted and think it’s just there without anyone needing to protect it, and fight for it, and bleed for it, and even die for it. I don’t know about you, but I’m with Batman…. and America. At least until Captain America comes out.