My Photo

Categories

Roll Call

Become a Fan

« Take my wife—please. | Main | Sorry, there's just no good on it. »

Saturday, 28 July 2012

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c2df453ef017616d4935f970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Dark Knight Rises is not a conservative film.:

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sportandpastime

Here's a dilemma for you, Scott. On the one hand, I totally agree with what you're saying (in general) about the film's politics, although I think the representations of Bane's army are very confused, and do sometimes intentionally echo the Occupy movement -- other times the Taliban, and still other times various incidents from the Terror during the French Revolution. I don't know whether Nolan thinks Occupy is like the Taliban, or whether he thinks al-Qaeda is like The French Revolution, or what. Even if the film suggests that Bane's populist rhetoric is hollow, it's not sophisticated enough to mourn the lack of real populism, because the only people it really cares about are police officers. Furthermore, Catwoman's best moment, her whispering "there's a storm coming," is totally Occupy-esque, forcing the concern that even if this isn't a depiction of the current moment, it might be an idiotic "warning" about "what could happen" if Occupy gets too big.

Honestly, I doubt such issues are worth untangling. The worst thing about The Dark Knight was all the political overtones; while the political overtones of Batman Begins are somewhat less annoying, they're also not profound. They precisely echo plotlines I remember from Dungeons & Dragons, with Liam Neeson as a version of the True Neutral character alignment. The only thing that was ever profound about this series was its psychological insight: into fear in the first film, and into chaotic/anarchic impulses in the second. Bane doesn't represent any sort of comparably interesting principle; he's basically just a political figure. (Catwoman, on the other hand, is very interesting, but doesn't get enough screen time.) Not only does this make the film tedious and overlong, it somewhat ruins the whole series for me. I just don't think Nolan is in command of his symbols, however good he may become at staging them.

SEK

although I think the representations of Bane's army are very confused, and do sometimes intentionally echo the Occupy movement -- other times the Taliban, and still other times various incidents from the Terror during the French Revolution. I don't know whether Nolan thinks Occupy is like the Taliban, or whether he thinks al-Qaeda is like The French Revolution, or what.

I think only literally, in that they assault something resembling Wall Street at one point, but even there, the connection fizzles. The OWS movement never launched an attack against Wall Street, and if they had, it wouldn't have been to short-sell some Wayne stock at the behest of a bureaucrat. It's one step forward, two steps back for the Bane as Occupier argument.

I just don't think Nolan is in command of his symbols, however good he may become at staging them.

I think this is true of The Dark Knight Rises, but I think he showed a deft touch with fear as a visual and thematic element in Batman Begins, and that his confusion was at least productive in The Dark Knight. Not so much with this last installment.

Ahistoricality

I think you underestimate the extent to which conservative commentators look at OWS and still see Taliban. Liberals look at the Tea Party the same way, but at least in that case the guns are really there, as is the theology….

Skyler Nelson

The issue you bring up relies on our ability to recognize the salient distinction between peaceful protestors and armed insurgents/terrorists. The problem is, of course, that this distinction is just the one that many conservatives are unable or unwilling to acknowledge - many conservatives look at OWS and what they see is mujahideen, or at least allies thereof. While protestors aren't actually heavily armed ideologues, their motives and tactics are just as opaque to many conservatives, and as such they tend to get conflated and lumped together in the "scary people who want to destroy our way of life" category. If you told me I was going to watch a movie where vaguely middle-eastern combatants with incomprehensible motives* conspire to attack Wall street, I'd wonder if it was adapted from one of Glenn Beck's puerile attempts at fiction - that's exactly the sort of thing a particular sort of conservative would come up with.

The thing is, it's obviously a lot more subtle than that, and it doesn't offer any clear morals in that direction. The whole thing struck me as thoroughly political, but incomprehensibly so. I think we were supposed to pick up on OWS-ish allusions throughout: cops marching in riot gear, the prominence of Wall street (visually and in the plot), the fact that perhaps every single scene of the entire movie is, in one way or another, drenched in concern with privilege (or lack thereof). But it didn't seem like anyone in particular was supposed to consistently represent the protestors, or the rich and successful (which, aside from Wayne, have largely been held in contempt throughout the series, right?) The standard middle class archetypes - cops and construction workers - make appearances but not as wholesome, hard working Americans. Rather, they're shown either as villainous Bane coconspirators, incompetent dupes or people who've lost (or are losing) their faith in the system.

Nolan consistenly says that he's actually not going for any coherent political point, and I'm starting to suspect that this might not just be a diplomatic tactic. Perhaps he's fully well in command of his symbols, it's just that he's commanding them towards ends that are totally oblique to the axes they're traditionally employed in (to mix a few metaphors). I think he's learned that certain kinds of symbols get under people's skin, and that might just be all he's after. Most people don't go to movies like this trying to figure out what to make of the symbolism, but they are affected by it, whether they realize it or not. People like us are going to try to read into it, which is difficult and interesting, and the puzzle of it keeps us talking about the movie. I left the theater deeply confused and intrigued, and with a strong urge to go and see it again to see if I could work anything out. Considered as a move intended just to get me fired up, it's a succes.

I'm not sure how much I buy this sort of conscious-imitation-of-meaningfulness interpretation, though. Does that make Nolan some kind of crypto-hipster, or a pomo super-capitalist (but perhaps I repeat myself!)? Whatever the case is, considering it fills me with a deep sense of dread - and a renewed desire to try and make some sense out of the whole mess.

* "Step one: we depose the rich! Step two: we kill everyone, rich and poor alike! Step three: while the world burns, we bask in the sheer depth of our own malevolent spite!" Of course, it could be argued that the "depose the rich" people were separate from and just being used by the "kill everyone" people, but the distinction between them isn't made clear, and they're armed and vaguely foreign either way.

J.S. Nelson

TL;DR: what ahistoricality apparenty said while I was composing my response.

Jules McWyrm

"But it seems to me that only someone who is actually blind could be convinced that there's a greater correspondence between the first and third than the first and second."

Given the context, I'm certain you have that backward. The proceeding paragraph argued at length that the greater correspondence was between the first and third.

SEK

I'll answer the other comments tomorrow, but to address this:

The proceeding paragraph argued at length that the greater correspondence was between the first and third.

I've now hyper-corrected this three times, so now I'm just going to apologize for having written a sentence that shouldn't have, but did, tie my up in knots.

The comments to this entry are closed.