by Scott Creighton
UPDATE: read the last installment of my Boycott the Batman series Boycott the Batman: Batman Shrugged
Ever since Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise in 2003, he has increasingly redefined the Dark Knight to the point where he is nothing more than Dick Cheney in a cape talking in a raspy voice and each and every villain has been demoted from super-natural cartoon caricatures to all-to-human obsessed terrorists with a grudge and WMDs.
We have put up with Nolan’s personal “war on terror” appeasement campaign and even allowed him to profit immensely from it, but now I say to you, enough is enough.
Let’s boycott the Batman.
At a time when the vast majority of the people of this country are about to experience even greater hardships due to the neoliberal Washington Consensus and the recently modified NDAA of 2012 which appears to grant the current administration expanded powers to use the military against their own citizens, Nolan’s next Dark Knight film looks to depict the 99% as the enemy of the state and the Batman’s final foe.
Our history is replete with directors and studios who have punched their career tickets in Hollywood by churning out propaganda films for the war-mongers. Frank Capra and Disney teamed up to make a series of films during the early part of WWII called “Why We Fight“. They were pure propaganda overseen by the U.S. Army Special Services Division designed to push a non-interventionist public further into the European War and to keep them supporting it no matter what the cost. That’s just one example. There are many others featuring names like John Ford, John Huston, Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, and James Stewart just to name a few.
In 2003 when Nolan first took over the task of continuing the Batman series of films, this country was already in the throws of a serious debate about the fraudulent “Global War on Terror”. We had just been lied into an invasion and occupation of Iraq and the Bush administration was constantly using their color-coded “terror alerts” for political purposes as has been exposed by Bush administration insiders long ago.
By the time Nolan’s first Batman offering came out in 2005 people were seriously questioning the Bush administration’s definition of terrorism and their use of the “terrorists” as justification for many foreign and domestic policy choices. So Nolan offered up to us a revised version of an iconic American hero having to go to “the dark side” (as Dick Cheney famously said) to do battle with… the terrorists.
In Batman Begins, Nolan’s silver spoon hero travels the world to find himself only to end up being recruited (while in prison mind you) by Ra’s al Ghul and taken to some mountain fortress (who else had a mountain fortress? oh yeah, the terrorists in Afghanistan) where he learns combat training from a bunch of hooded terrorist types. Batman refuses to cut some poor slob’s head off (Daniel Perle video anyone?) and he single-handedly defeats the terrorists and escapes to go back to Gotham and uses his access to his arms contractor business to “fight crime”. His costume is a Kevlar body suit designed for our soldiers in their fight against the “war on terror” but was too expensive for them (damn bureaucrats in Washington), his nifty gadgets were all from special ops R&D projects, and his bat-mobile, far from the slick targa style racer of old times turned into a special ops “bridger” that looks more like a armored personnel carrier than the Bat-mobile.
The threat in Batman Begins is a terrorist chemical weapons attack planned by Ra’s al Ghul and a character called “The Scarecrow” to change the morally bankrupt Gotham City, a city Ra’s al Ghul considers to be a den of vice and sin. Sound like Dick Cheney wrote that part of the plot line?
If you take a look at how these characters were drawn as originally, you will see that Nolan has taken a decidedly different turn when it comes to presenting them in his film. He has made them human terrorists rather than arch-villians. Ra’s al Ghul for instance is a 600 year old… well… ghoul. And the scarecrow is, well, a scarecrow.
How are they depicted in Christopher Nolan’s film Batman Begins?
In Noland’s next Batman film, 2008 The Dark Knight, his efforts to appease the on-going “war on terror” are taken to a stark new level. Also note that at that time the current terrorist flavor of the month was the “homegrown terrorist” who had been “radicalized” by the internet.
Again we have the threat of domestic terrorism and actual terrorist acts taking place throughout Gotham City. The Joker appears in this film as a seriously disturbed individual, not transformed by falling in a vat of toxic chemicals, but instead he’s an angry young white guy with some scars on this face wearing make-up which constantly runs during the film.
We know he’s “crazy” because he constantly makes up different stories about how he got the scars on his face and he sets fire to a massive pile of money, which probably offended more audience members than his planting a bomb in the body of one of his thugs (ever heard of that terrorist threat?) and blowing up the police station.
There are two things that are important to note about The Dark Knight aside from the fact that he’s an angry “homegrown terrorist” with some face paint and a shit load of explosives.
The first thing is the ending of the film in which, after Batman stops the Joker’s terrorist act with the ferry boats, he has to kill Harvey Dent who has become Two Face.
Two Face (the district attorney) had gone on a killing spree and it looked like Gotham was going to lose “hope” because their hero had turned into a villain.
So what does Batman and the Police Commissioner decide to do? They lie about who actually killed Two Face’s victims in order to protect the new found “HOPE” of the people of Gotham.
They conspire to create the illusion of the terrorist Batman in order to protect the murdering district attorney Harvey Dent’s image… and in Noland’s vision this “noble lie” is good for the people. It keeps the black and white separated, the good from the bad with no grey in between.
If you never heard of the Noble Lie, “In politics a noble lie is a myth or untruth, often, but not invariably, of a religious nature, knowingly told by an elite to maintain social harmony..”
The noble lie is the essence of the global war on terror.
The second point of interest is Alfred’s speech to Bruce Wayne:
“Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought or reasoned with or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn”.
Ironically it was Alfred and his men that burned a forest and every living thing in it to get the “terrorist” he was talking about way back in his past. White is black. Black is white. The arsonist accuses me of arson.
That brings us finally to the third Christopher Nolan Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
This film comes out early summer of 2012 and according to the previews, it will pit Batman against Catwoman and a character called Bane.
The trailer shows a conversation between Cat-woman and Bruce Wayne as a young child signs the National Anthem at the start of a football game. We see Bane rising up from some hole under the stadium, literally crawling out of the sewers, then they cut to Cat-woman whispering in billionaire Bruce Wayne’s ear:
“You think this can last. There’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better baton down the hatches cus when it hits you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought how you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us”
While she is whispering this in his ear, Nolan’s trailer shows clips of terrorist attacks on the policemen, angry mobs rampaging through the homes of the wealthy elites dragging white women down the stairs, and the ever menacing Bane walking through the bowels of the stadium on his way to commit an act of domestic terrorism.
Criminals are busted out of prisons by armed revolutionaries and in one clip it appears that average looking civilians are fighting with the police on the steps of City Hall while Batman faces off with Bane.
Once again in this film, Christopher Nolan has chosen to humanize Bane so that he doesn’t even remotely resemble the original character but instead he looks like an average person wearing a re-breather mask.
The graphic novel character of Bane is a huge monster constantly pumped full of a chemical called Venom which transformed him into super-human villain who ends up breaking Batman’s back and putting him in a wheelchair, whereas Noland’s creation is simply a malcontent Tom Hardy hooked on pain-killers with a remote detonator switch.
In the trailer Bane talks to Batman telling him that he can die only after Bane sees Gotham reduced to ash, probably a reference back to the Alfred “some men just want to watch the world burn” story from the previous movie.
Looks like Bane is just another Christopher Nolan terrorist/villain; unreasonable men who can’t be bought off or “negotiated with”. Isn’t it terrible when someone doesn’t have a price and refuses to sell his ideals short? In Noland’s world, that is what one calls an “extremist”
The problem with this Noland terrorist is that he is borne of us. He is not super human, he isn’t a monster… he’s the proletariat and the underclass in Nolan’s fast approaching class warfare storm.
Bane is the terrorist stereotype that all the establishment dreads when the working classes decide they have had enough and dare to stand together, to rise.
Typically, when countries are neoliberalized like this one is, far-right ultra-fascist sympathizers, aided by institutions like the CIA or MI6, stage terrorists acts which are then immediately blamed on the opposition and dissident groups. This allows the government to justify mass arrests and detentions in the name of national security. This recently happened in India (just read the writing of Arundhati Roy) and Iraq after we “liberated” it.
It is not a new pattern and considering what we have recently seen with regard to the pending collapse of the Euro-zone and the enhanced detention authorization in the NDAA 2012, it would be foolish for us not to be concerned about an obvious bit of propaganda “rising” from the likes of Chris Noland.
What is left out of the equation of Noland’s new Dark Knight is the fact that the class war began long ago. The people don’t want to rampage through the opulent mansions of the 1%, they want the 1% to stop rampaging through their humble middle class dwellings. But they wont and they are making that perfectly clear.
30 years ago the business class conspired with the Reagan administration to declare their “trickle down” warfare on the working classes 30 years ago then they went after the unions looking to break the back of collective bargaining.
They followed up with the “New Dem” Clintons and they advanced the assault with the North American Free Trade agreement, the Welfare Reform law, and their final assault which removed the New Deal protections granted by Glass-Steagall. The Clinton generals even sidelined Brooksley Born when she tried to warn of the coming disaster in the unregulated derivatives market. They created a law to make it illegal to attempt to regulate that particular weapon of economic destruction before they left office.
Then the Bush administration came to power via a crooked election and a sympathetic Supreme Court and they immediately started a program to help pay the down payments for under-qualified home buyers trying to get into their liar loan houses. And thus the sub-prime crisis was created.
And then there were the bailouts.
The middle class has been shrinking at an ever increasing rate since the 80s. Real wages have been diminishing and for the first time since the Great Depression, children aren’t living better than their parents did. Education is becoming a thing for the middle class alone, while unemployment is skyrocketing regardless of the Clinton administration’s new rules on counting the unemployed.
This latest collapse evaporated retirement accounts, 401ks, of tens of millions of working and retired Americans. They are currently looking to offset the deficit created by the bankers and the war-mongers in power by eliminating the social safety net and various programs designed to help the people when they need it the most. Cities are selling off public assets while the foreclosure rates have skyrocketed just like they did during the great depression.
The solutions being given voice in the corrupt halls of congress center around still more deregulation of big business and banking, more privatizations like the education system, more prisons, and the post office and of course handing over social security to Wall Street… the final nail in the New Deal’s coffin.
It is not us who is rampaging through your precious 1%ers sacred halls Mr. Noland, it is you who are rampaging through ours. And we are tired of it.
The Global War on Terror is a fraud. Christopher Noland’s scary boogie men have been proven time and time again to be hand crafted by those people in power who wish to have more power, who wish to see the dawning of a New American Century.
We must reject Christopher Noland’s last insulting offering to the long list of propaganda films made in America.
We will “rise” against a corrupt and unjust system, but not by dragging women down flights of stairs, bombing police stations, or by blowing up football teams during America’s great distraction… we will rise and we will unite, just as we have done so often before in our history to support workers rights, to support women’s rights, to support Civil Rights.
And when we do I put forward to you that we must also unite in our stand against propaganda like this. We must show Hollywood and directors like Noland that there is a price to pay for taking sides against us and propagandizing the American people.
When the last phase of this class war begins, it will not by us who commit acts of domestic terrorism against the people, it will be those who have been terrorizing America already for the past 30 years. It will not by us who steals from them, but they who continue to steal from us.
I am Bane. Let us reject Noland’s appeasement to the gods of the new imperialism and refuse to fork over one thin dime of our harder earned wages so he can please his owners.
The Dark Knight sinks.
Boycott the Batman in 2012.