by Scott Creighton
Update: read the latest in my Boycott the Batman series Boycott the Batman: Batman Shrugged
“I am Gotham’s reckoning” Bane
While driving along, I chanced upon a curious ending to a segment on National Petroleum Radio this afternoon. They were closing a discussion of Christopher Nolan’s latest and last Batman offering, The Dark Knight Rises. What I gathered from the few moments of the chat was that they had been discussing the propaganda aspect of the film: meaning Nolan’s less than transparent promoting of support of the Global War on Terror™. Seems like they were debating whether or not it was offensive propaganda targeting the Occupy Movement or if it was just good clean wholesome fun. They closed by saying some guy from Zuccati park just wanted to see the movie because he wanted it to be good so I guess NPR did what they do best.
Regardless of the NPR spin, the last trailer is out and it leaves very little to the imagination as to which side of the debate is actually correct. Nolan’s Batman is propaganda and I would recommend not paying to see it and here is why…
You can watch the trailer for yourself so I won’t waste time breaking it down except to say:
- You now have scenes of masses of people marching menacingly through what looks like Upper Manhattan 5th Ave past the doormen of the elites
- You have these same “have nots’ rampaging through the homes of the wealthy, dragging women down the stairs, needlessly wrecking the place, and cruelly pulling the helpless elites from their hiding places to outcomes unknown.
- You have scenes of terrorist attacks on bridges in “Gotham” (Manhattan) and the scene cuts to children looking out of a school bus window (“Won’t SOMEBODY think of the CHILDREN?!!”)
- You have mobs of the unwashed masses running at the heroic police officers while Bane (their drug addled leader) sets off more bombs at a football stadium (what’s more all-American than football?)
- You have what appears to be military grade heavy weapons deployed on the streets of the city.
- You have protesters dressed up like Syrian “rebels” armed with AK-47s
- You have Bane and “the terrorists”, the bad guys, ransacking the New York Stock Exchange…
let me say that again
- You have Bane and “the terrorists”, the bad guys, ransacking the New York Stock Exchange
- And you have Bruce Wayne, the billionaire silver spooner telling Alfred (his man servant) that he isn’t afraid… he’s angry.
Thus is the final trailer for the film which comes out day after tomorrow.
Since December of 2011 I have been calling for American movie goers to pass on this little bit of for-profit propaganda.
In Boycott the Batman: The Dark Knight Trilogy Turns on Us , I explore how Noland has changed the basic concept of the Batman story to meld it into a Cheneyesque “us verses them” narrative. I show how Nolan has turned super-villains into nothing more than terrorists with WMDs and how sometimes the greater good is served by heroes doing evil. If that doesn’t remind you of Cheney claiming we were going to have to move down “the darkside’ to combat terrorism after 9/11, I don’t know what would.
Last month I wrote about the latest posters promoting the film and how obvious the connections with the Occupy Movement where.
Now this final promotional trailer further supports my initial conclusions about the film.
But I am also finding that a large number of film reviewers are kind of hinting at the same conclusions that I reached.
The canvas is epic, the themes are profound, the execution is … clunky.
And that rep is not just intact but the inspiration for the Dent Act, which the mayor of Gotham City boasts put thousands of bad guys in prison with little in the way of due process. With the scum now off the street, business flourishes while the gulf widens between rich and poor.
… wealthy people living high while beneath them, in the sewers, apocalyptic forces gather, embodied here by a masked muscleman called Bane
… Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, who preaches class warfare to Bruce after he catches her rifling his safe” David Edelstein
Film critics Marshall Fine, Christy Lemire, and Nick Pinkerton have panned the film for various reasons.
Rotten Tomatoes had to turn the comments off on the Dark Knight page because of the vicious levels of “hate” and threats of violence stemming from Nolan’s fans reacting to bad reviews. It was the first time Rotten Tomatoes has had to do that.
Nolan has come out and defended his hate-spewing fans who are attacking those who give the film bad reviews. Imagine that: the people who like his pro-War on Terror Dark Knight and his anti-Occupy Dark Knight Rises resort to anger and threats of violence when faced with differences of opinions. It’s interesting what he says about them…
“”I think the fans are very passionate about these characters the way a lot of people are very passionate. Batman’s been around for over 70 years and there’s a reason for that. He has a huge appeal, so I think you know people certainly respond to the character,” he said.” Fox News
If you were going to pick a film series to use as a vehicle for propaganda like this, wouldn’t Batman, the Dark Knight, be the perfect choice? Like he says, people are passionate about the Batman. It’s been around for 70 years. Of course his fans feel connected to the product… that’s how marketing and propaganda works.
Perhaps Nick Pinkerton comes closest to what I see in the film…
… If The Dark Knight openly invited interpretation as the War on Terror Batman, then The Dark Knight Rises, whose creators obviously scented the class discontent in the air, is the Occupy Wall Street installment. “You think all this can last?” down-and-out survivor Selina says upon meeting Wayne at a fancy-dress masquerade ball. “There’s a storm coming.”…
… That storm breaks in the form of the living incarnation of Have-Not rancor, Bane…
… Bane is, in posture at least, a radical revolutionist, setting himself up as the champion of the disenfranchised, though it is difficult to imagine who would be seduced by his tactics or his plan “to return control of the city to the people,” followed by the neutralization of law and order and the foundation of a Gotham Commune….
… The perpetrators of the city-upending mutiny have no interest in a new order, only in seeing Gotham purged in blood with a rote ticking time bomb, an apocalypse that precludes the possibility of revolution either failing or succeeding on its own terms.”" Pinkerton
I have to disagree with one thing here though: the Dark Knight would be considered the PRO-War on Terror Batman and the Dark Knight Rises would be the ANTI-Occupy Wall Street Batman. The devil is in the details, Mr. Pinkerton.
According to the reviews, the revolutionaries who are opposed to Gotham’s authoritarian rule (the new Dent Law is passed in light of Batman’s killing of Harvey Dent) get hijacked by Bane’s leadership who is actually being run by Ra’s al Ghul, the terrorist from the first of Nolan’s series.
The implication there-in is that when (if?) the revolution ever starts and the “disenfranchised’ “have-nots” decide to mobilize against the ruling elites, then they are probably being run by outside actors with different agendas, kinda like what Hillary Clinton is doing in Syria. Of course, no REAL revolutionary movement could start in America without the terrorist “international leftests” at its helm.
And what is the greatest fear of the elites at a time like this? Is it the random attacks of the directionless mob or is it the fear that someone will rise, someone like a Moammar Ghadafi, who will give the revolution direction, focus it like a laser, and rout the serpents from the hallowed halls of congress like Andrew Jackson? Someone who will make the revolution institutional and clear the institutions of the blight of the neoliberal Washington Consensus before it takes hold of this country forever.
Their greatest fear… is Bane.
Another negative review from the Associated Press pointed out a rather common criticism of the film which leads one to a better understanding of it’s broader purpose:
“But Nolan’s approach is so coldly cerebral that it’s a detriment to the film’s emotional core. It’s all doom and gloom and no heart. There is no reason to care about these characters, who function more as cogs in an elaborate, chaotic machine than as real people whose souls are at stake.” Associate Press
This is an all too common flaw in the propagandists efforts in that too much attention and effort are focused on the message and the vehicle itself, the story, is left to rot.
Propaganda works best on certain base emotional levels. Appeals to emotional connections via visual imagery like the blowing up of bridges and the quick flash to the children’s faces in the school bus are typical. The imagery forces emotional recall as is evidenced by the review…
“Gotham is under siege in ways that tonally and visually recall 9/11; what is obviously the island of Manhattan gets cut off from the outside world at one point.” Associate Press
More than one reviewer writes that Nolan’s Dark Knight falls flat on many levels including believability, character development, and just plain “heart”
That is what you would expect from “clunky” propaganda… no heart.
How does a film extolling the virtues of Ayn Rand’s soulless philosophy ever have any chance of possessing a heart?
The reviews are in, the last trailer is out there, look at it all for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Though I hate to say it (I could certainly use the 3 hour distraction) I’m going to stand by my original assessment of the film and boycott the Batman. Nolan won’t count my 15 bucks in with the billions he will probably make for demonizing the resistance in America before it even really starts.
Boycott the Batman