Friday, July 25, 2008

Andrew Klavan: Batman and Bush have much in common (What the...?!)

Still working on my review of The Dark Knight, but it should be up later today. Part of the reason for the delay was that I've been so gosh-darned busy since it came out, what with crossing the country (and I didn't even see The Dark Knight in my own, mind ya). And also 'cuz I needed some time to really "suss" things out about this movie.

In the meantime though, I cast your attention to Andrew Klavan, writing for The Wall Street Journal, and he asserts that The Dark Knight proves that Batman and George W. Bush are practically one and the same. In short...

"The Dark Knight," then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year's "300," "The Dark Knight" is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.
Bush is like Batman?! 'Tis writing so mad, Klavan should be locked up in Arkham. If anything, Bush is The Joker: everything this man has done has sown and reaped chaos and destruction... but on a global scale.

But let's look at the comparison to Batman again and why Klavan is so wrong. First, Batman is putting himself on the front line in the war against crime in Gotham City. When Bruce Wayne takes the armor off and we see those cuts and scars, he acquired... nay, he earned... those on his own. President Bush has never been in a real fight. He's a spoiled brat king who sends henchmen (not talking about U.S. military personnel at all, folks) to do his dirty work. Just like The Joker.

Second, from the very beginning of his term of office, and throughout most of his life, Bush has been obsessed with creating a "legacy" that he'll be remembered for. It's a kind of narcissism that fuels the greatest of supervillains. This is not what motivates Bruce Wayne. Wayne is not out for fame or glory, and he can live with the fact that history must never know that he is Batman because that simply does not matter at all to him. What does matter is that he will do whatever is in his power to make sure that no one will ever die... not even those who might most deserve it.

This brings me to another point: Batman's compassion even toward his enemies. We see this in The Dark Knight: Batman doesn't kill The Joker. Heck, if you read the comics at all, you already know that for all his understanding of how twisted and dangerous The Joker is, Batman has never given up hope that the man might be reformed and redeemed. Incarcerated forever for his crimes, yes... but at least with a conscience. Batman does not kill his enemies. He will stop them, and at times punish them when the law fails... but he does not take it upon himself to judge them as unworthy of life. Go read Alan Moore's The Killing Joke if you've never done so, if you want to see what I mean. Does anyone believe that George W. Bush has just as much strength of soul that would keep him from killing his worst enemies and getting away with it, if he could?

Batman wants the people of Gotham to stand up and fight the darkness on their own. Bush wants the people of America to be a superstitious, cowardly lot. 'Nuff said.

I'm going to write more about it in my review, but The Dark Knight is a movie about morality under duress and sometimes having to compromise that. Klavan argues that Batman in The Dark Knight vindicates the neo-conservative belief that Bush must do away with personal rights in order to win the "war on terror" (by the way, nobody who seriously believes in the "war on terror" is worth respecting, in my opinion). He totally missed the point of The Dark Knight here: that though good people are not infallible and do fail at times, good people do at least harbor remorse and regret for not possessing complete wisdom to deal with the world around them. I think this is one of the greatest attributes of conscience... and it's one that Bush and the vast majority of his supporters have never demonstrated.

Which leads to my final point: the possession and abuse of power. In The Dark Knight we see Batman use a technological ability to locate The Joker, though Lucius Fox believes that it is too much power to be given to one man. Batman agrees, and after the need for the power has gone, he gives Lucius the ability to destroy the technology. That could never be George W. Bush. He would keep that power to himself... hell, he darn nearly has that same power already... and tell everyone that he needs it because "the Jokerists are still out there".

Therein lies the greatest reason why Batman and George W. Bush have nothing in common with each other: Batman can say no to power, while Bush cannot get enough of it.

Klavan's essay is the most damned silly thing about The Dark Knight that I've read to date, and is proof of the desperation that Bush's die-hard supporters have been driven to in the final months of their idol's bid to achieve lasting fame. Which made it all the more fun to shoot holes in :-)

27 comments:

Patrick said...

The Joker is a pathological liar who cannot get his stories straight. Just like George W. Bush.

Anonymous said...

Very good analysis Chris.

Anonymous said...

Hey there Mr. Fulls o'shit....

This is best retort your big brain come muster?

You can do better than this....

I'm curious, why don't you and your ilk ever make bad comments about Islamic Killers?

I didin't see Bush or his, I believe you called them "henchmen -(which we notice you don't name any (read US Armed Forces) - you just insult the troops and make your knee jerk comment about how you support them.

So big brain, why don't you use your big brain to tell us all what we should be doing now to defeat the crazies who kill our citizens instead of blabbering on 24/7 about GWB?

Any ideas??

We didn't think so.....

Anonymous said...

Chris, you're obviously a liberal. If there was a common theme in Dark Knight, it is that there are forces in the world that cannot be negotiated with or appeased. These dark forces are represented by the Joker. Batman does what is right and necessary to put down these dark forces at all costs. If you don't get the movie is an allegory for the current war on terror, then you accurately the left. You're just not the crunchiest chip in the bag, if you know what I mean. Liberals like you Chris, obviously despise Bush just as the citizens of Gotham despise Batman, because they don't understand him. While this metaphor no doubt runs contrary to the progressive narrative regarding the war in Iraq, the symbolism in Batman is no doubt a nod to those with the courage do what is right no matter what the costs to one's personal ego.

Anonymous said...

Bush has "666" upon his buttocks - the mark of The Beast.

Debra M said...

Actually Andrew Klavan makes many great points in his essay. The first of which is that society is wholeheartedly embracing a movie in which the protagonist has to look evil in the face and make the hard choice of crushing it. The public sees the merit in it. Pussy-footing around in a world full of ugliness just doesn't cut it.

I am offended, Christopher, that you would say, "He's [Bush] a spoiled brat king who sends henchmen to do his dirty work." First of all, whether a civil servant or a soldier, no one is in this fight by coercion. We do not have a draft -- service is voluntary. You are free, Christopher, to disagree with the need to fight terror but it is immature and ignorant to use name-calling in your rhetoric.

Ad hominem attacks are common among those who have no substance. Rather than addressing the basis of any argument or producing evidence against any claim, you just besmirch. Nice try.

Anonymous said...

Batman's IMAGE is what Albert was talking about him risking. Allowing himself to "Make the decisions no one else can make." You Know, "Be the Decider"? Be hated and reviled as a coward and a megalomaniac, so that you can do what is right as an example that what is right isn't easy and doesn't always look right.

Joker did plenty of ill. I doubt any of the Insurgent leaders have driven a world leader's eye onto a pencil.

…and the previous mentions of non-negotiability apply as well.

Anonymous said...

You are so correct debra m.......Immature & Ignorant are perfect words for post like this

Neil said...

Okay, I've been reading Chris for a long time and anyone who knows him, knows he is not a liberal or a conservative. Just yesterday he wrote his harshest words yet about Obama and why he can't be trusted. Now some of you are calling him a liberal.

If most of you condemning Chris want to see narrow minded, look in a mirror.

Neil said...

Chris, I don't see any where that the above posters who disagree with you have refuted anything you've said. They come across as seminar Republicans.

Anonymous said...

Bush IS Batman. But that's only if it's the Batman from Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin.

"Are you RETARDED or something? Who the hell do you THINK I am? I'm the goddamn DECIDER!"

dnynumberone said...

the threat of terrorists has been blown far, far out of proportion.

there is NO WAY a second 9/11 could occur, even if homeland security hadn't changed a thing. the only reason it worked the first time is because citizens were used to the notion (from tv and movies) that a hostage doesn't kill everyone right away. they land, they make demands, there's a chance to survive.

now that the average citizen knows that is no longer the reality, they would in no circumstances allow five people with razor blades to accomplish what they did.

and if al-qaeda did have the means to release a dirty bomb, why didn't they use it on 9/11, when the collapse of the towers created a near-perfect method of dispersion?

sorry andrew, but some of us think the greatest evil of all is the destruction of civil liberties. i'm far more worried about a police-state than a terrorist attack.

if you had any patriotism, whatsoever, you would be to.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

dnynumberone said...

sorry, it should have read "...the notion (from tv and movies) that a terrorist doesn't..."

Chris Knight said...

Wow, where to begin...?

Well, for one thing, I think it's telling that some of you apparently did not read the piece entirely, like "anonymous" at 2:44 PM who *ignored* that I emphasized that I was not referring to American military personnel.

Speaking of which, Debra M, to address something you brought up: I believe that the men and women who choose to serve in our armed forces are among the finest people of our country. They have volunteered to sacrifice some of the best years of their lives in the service of others. I also believe that the rest of us owe them our vigilance, in making sure that their time of service is never exploited or used wantonly. They signed up to serve, yes. But they did so in full faith that their years of service would be wisely employed, and never with abandon. They did not sign up to be "cannon fodder" for whoever might happen to be in the White House at any given time.

As it is, the current administration, as did the previous one, treats the men and women of our armed forces like expendable assets, as "pawns" in its mad games of nebulous policy. Our military personnel expect to serve in the defense of American freedom. They did not enlist to become either video game characters or the international equivalent of Meals on Wheels.

Honestly, I'm honking with laughter at all the accusations that I'm a "liberal". As Neil noted, I just spent a post yesterday describing how I've had to go from polite disagreement with Obama, to full-tilt not able to trust the guy at all. That had to do with the messianic-like worship of the man... which isn't far removed from the worship I've watched a lot of people, including WAY too many self-described "Christians", give Bush the past eight years.

How is worship of Bush any better than worship of Obama? I despise both. No doubt some are going to say that I'm a "conservative" for blasting Obama... so how do y'all reconcile that with your very limited mentality?

I bet that most of y'all can't. Or are willing to try, anyway. You want things to be too EASY to think about. You can't comprehend that the "liberal versus conservative" perspective might possibly be not only wrong, but a colossal lie.

(Let me add something here: I believe that a person can lean "conservative" or "liberal" on a particular issue. I do not believe that any person can be pegged as a blanket conservative or liberal... and it's the acme of laziness to do so.)

dnynumberone, yours is the most articulate and clear-minded comment for this post.

And to "anonymous" who commented at 6:02 PM...

"Are you RETARDED or something? Who the hell do you THINK I am? I'm the goddamn DECIDER!"

ROTFL!!!

If anything good has come of this, it's that it proves Frank Miller's point: Batman is the kind of character that can be done a thousand different ways, and none of them be really wrong.

Chris Knight said...

By the way, that Klavan could say that 300 was a pro-Bush movie is just as ridiculous a thing to have written. 300 was based on a graphic novel (also by Frank Miller) that came out WAY before Bush ran for President. The movie of it was practically a frame-for-frame adaptation of the book.

I said over a year ago that there was nothing political about 300, and that Klavan is implying that there is just indicates more desperation on the part of the pro-Bush camp.

Jesse said...

"Bush wants the people of America to be a superstitious, cowardly lot."

This was the best line of a superb essay. You know your Batman lore Chris.

Todd said...

Well said, Chris

mikef. said...

I almost passed out laughing when I read Andrew Klavan's ridiculous comparison between Batman and George Bush.
What exactly is Klavan smoking? I thought. Then I thought, Klavan's got to be on Karl Rove's payroll. No one with a working brain and a respect for the truth could buy the claptrap that Klavan was trying to selll.
Anyway, Mr. Knight you nailed it when you demolished every one of Klavan's points of comparison, and exposed them for the specious arguments they obviously are. Good work

Carey Martin said...

Chris,
You are an excellent writer. Some points of contention:

You write, "everything this man has done has sown and reaped chaos and destruction... but on a global scale."

I must credit Larry Elder with the response: "Is the world better off without Saddam Hussein?"

You write, "He's a spoiled brat king who sends henchmen (not talking about U.S. military personnel at all, folks) to do his dirty work. "

Setting aside the slur against National Guardsmen, who exactly ARE the "henchmen" of "global chaos and destruction, if not US military personnel?

You continue, "Bush has been obsessed with creating a "legacy" that he'll be remembered for. It's a kind of narcissism that fuels the greatest of supervillains. "

This would be a more convincing argument if a) you attached a shred of evidence (BTW, if you're one of those who believes 9/11 and Katrina were Bush's work, a long soothing spell in Arkham would do you good) and b) you were remotely qualified to issue a psychiatric diagnosis.

More: "Does anyone believe that George W. Bush has just as much strength of soul that would keep him from killing his worst enemies and getting away with it, if he could?"

That's why Bush has silenced media outlets, exiled rebellious Congressmen, starved 6000 POWs to death, used artillery and machine guns against protestors, executed US citizens after a quick military tribunal, and imprisoned every "enemy" minority group member he could get his hands on. Oh wait; he didn't do ANY of those things. That was Lincoln and FDR.

"That could NEVER [emphasis yours] be George W. Bush. He would keep that power to himself..."

If George Bush remains in office 60 seconds after his legal term of office ends, I will admit you're right. If he doesn't, he's proved you a liar.

"nobody who seriously believes in the "war on terror" is worth respecting, in my opinion"

Here's the heart of the matter. And perhaps you're right. The way some Bushies act, you'd think Islamofascists have been beheading journalists, pushing wheelchair-bound tourists overboard, blowing up airliners, taking over embassies for 30 years plus, or something.

BTW, don't be so quick to mock Klavan. I'd never have found your site if I hadn't searched for references to his column.

Anonymous said...

You forgot the biggest difference of all Chris.

Bruce Wayne lost his father as a kid. George W. Bush always has his father to get him out of trouble so whats his excuse?

Anonymous said...

Andrew Klavan's analysis is that Batman, like Bush, will be painted the Villian for his efforts to protect those he is sworn to protect. Your analysis, Chris, painting Bush to be the villian, has essentially proven Klavan's analysis to be true.

Anonymous said...

Yo, Chris, neocons are pitiful when they need a comic book character to make their god Bush look good. Im just saying.

Chris Knight said...

"Andrew Klavan's analysis is that Batman, like Bush, will be painted the Villian for his efforts to protect those he is sworn to protect."

What has Bush done to "protect" Americans, pray tell?

He can't even secure our border with Mexico!

All that Bush supporters see is "...but we haven't been attacked again!" They can't bring themselves to say that "...we haven't been attacked again yet."

With our cruddy border policy (and Bush's penchant toward punishing the ones who have been defending our border, witness what happened to Ramos and Compean) it's only a matter of time before that does happen. And when it does, the blame will SQUARELY land on Bush's lap. Even though he'll most likely never be punished for it or even have an ounce of regret for it.

In a sane world, this would bother some people. It should bother some people. But among his most die-hard supporters, they won't give a damn.

The Dark Knight was a movie about doing what's right, knowing it's not enough and having a conscience that gnaws at you with that knowledge. Batman has a conscience.

Bush has never shown that he has a conscience. He's never had to have one: between his family providing him with easy "outs" every time he messes up, and an army of "useful idiots" supporting him, conscience is something he's never had to be bothered with.

And I've no doubt that a year from now, these comparisons of Bush to Batman are going to be laughed at and ridiculed.

Anonymous said...

Over 4000 Americans dead and over a million Iraq civilians dead and these people just want to hear that their hero is like a comic book character. What fucking delusion.

LSupreemo said...

Dude, Neither FDR, Lincoln nor Wilson fought any battles, yet guided the nation thru war.

In fact, the two Dims above ran on anti-war platforms, just before taking us to war.

I apologise for the use of facts and reason.

Anonymous said...

A lot of soundminded people will say that you cited the wrong people Lsupreemo. Lincoln introduced the theory of government with unlimited power to America and Wilson's policies extended that theory. Lincoln was not a Democrat either. He was the first Republican elected to President. Whatever the party those are not the best two presidents to use as supporting proof.

Debra M said...

Carey Martin, I love what you wrote. I just wanted to mention that... especially your closing point, "you'd think Islamofascists have been beheading journalists, pushing wheelchair-bound tourists overboard, blowing up airliners, taking over embassies for 30 years plus, or something." Whoooah. Slam dunk.