Sunday, 22 July 2012

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Glenn Reynolds Demonstrates How to Avoid Politicizing a Tragedy As everyone who pays attention to political blogging knows, tragedies are too tragic to politicize. Discussing gun control in the wake of a tragic shooting is despicable political opportunism. Discussing the discussion of gun control in the wake of a tragic shooting, however, isn’t politically opportunistic because it’s a morally neutral, second-order discussion about a discussion. It’s a meta-discussion about the propriety of having a political discussion in the wake of a tragic shooting, meaning it’s an apolitical discussion whose participants are immune to the charge that they’re violating decorum by politicizing a tragedy. For example, here’s Glenn Reynolds’s first post about Aurora: A TRULY AWFUL mass shooting in Denver. At the Batman premiere. UPDATE: More here. It doesn’t exploit the tragedy by using it to score cheap political points, so no one could accuse him of political opportunism. But here’s his second post on the tragic shooting: POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM: CNN’s Piers Morgan, First to Use Colorado Tragedy to Assault Second Amendment Rights. I’m sure he won’t be the last. Others may blame Hollywood. In both cases, it’s a mix of opportunism and a desire not to confront the existence of evil. Well, okay, in Piers Morgan’s case, it’s not much of a mix, really. UPDATE: Left Blames Aurora Shooting On Rush Limbaugh. Of course they do. Hey, never let a tragedy go to waste, when you might use it to smear an opponent. Every time something like this happens, they roll out the blood libels. Because conservative bloggers have established that it’s not political opportunism to discuss political opportunism, this technically doesn’t qualify as an exploitation of the tragic shooting, because pointing out other people’s political opportunism isn’t politically opportunistic—even though the people doing the pointing are ideologically opposed to the people they’re pointing at. Every conservative blogger knows that. Reynold’s next post qualifies as non-opportunistic for the same reason: FIRST, ABC NEWS CONNECTS THE COLORADO SHOOTING WITH THE TEA PARTY, now Brian Ross says oops, sorry about that. Reaction: “Brian Ross must be fired by the end of the day.” What’s pathetic is that every time, they so clearly want to blame tragedies like this on the Tea Party. I don’t generally like these calls for firings, and Ross was no doubt just reading what a producer sent him, but . . . They know how to be exquisitely sensitive and non-prejudgey when it might be a Muslim or some other protected minority, so maybe the only way to encourage them to show better judgment the rest of the time is to cost some people their jobs. Who was the producer? Meanwhile, I look forward to the libel suit. . . . UPDATE: ABC News goes into “Damage Control Mode.” ANOTHER UPDATE: Jim Treacher on Twitter: “It’s not even about @BrianRoss. It’s about a subculture with a view of the world in which @BrianRoss’s assumption there is only natural.” MORE: Here’s an interview with the man ABC News libeled. MORE STILL: A roundup of “progressive” scapegoating, some of...
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Initial verdict on The Dark Knight Rises: Very Return of the Jedi. It's not nearly as dark or accomplished as its predecessor, and it descends into maddening silliness at times, e.g. every time Bane "opens" his "mouth." More on the politics, as well as some general comments of the spoiling variety, from someone the Washington Post contacted as a "Batman expert," can be found below the fold. Let me preface this post by noting that I'm extremely fond of both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and have written extensively about the thematic and technical accomplishments of both: Batman Begins I (horror) Batman Begins II (scene structure) The Dark Knight I (interrogation scene) The Dark Knight II (benefit scene) So I don't want to read any comments about how someone with a doctorate in English Literature would be predisposed to disliking The Dark Knight Rises because, if anything, the opposite is true: I've studied Christopher Nolan's films and am intimately familiar with the hallmarks of his style. Now that that's out of the way, I'll be blunt: This is easily the least accomplished film in the trilogy. Batman Begins is the most structurally sound (in narrative terms) and thematically coherent of the three: Nolan orchestrates his narratives such that they advance forward in time, indepedently, as they build Bruce Wayne into a believable character. The Dark Knight is structurally and thematically chaotic by design: Nolan can't seem to decide which scene belongs where (but cuts to it anyway) and is so indecisive about the film's argument that I can plausibly claim that it's all about dogs. But that structural and thematic anarchy is acceptable in a film that belongs to the Joker: form follows content and the both are better for it. The Dark Knight Rises shares its immediate predecessor's commitment to structural tumult and thematic incoherence but lacks a compelling motivation for doing so. The charitable version of this argument would go like this: Nolan's narrative is disorganized because Bane claims to be committed to an ideology very similar to the Joker's. The only problem with that argument is that it's not true: his heart belongs to a fascistic order that values discipline and loyalty above all else (the League of Shadows) and the plan he carries out requires military precision. He protects the nuclear device by moving it and two decoy convoys around Gotham in a coordinated fashion. The device is ultimately lost because he adheres to the plan so rigidly that Gordon and his cohorts are able to create a map that tells them when and where each convoy will be at a given point in time. The Joker's plan? It doesn't even make sense. But The Dark Knight can be forgiven its formal incongruities because the resulting confusion enhances the experience the film. If a sequence seems make no sense it's because the Joker's lost the plot. If nobody appears to know what's going it's because nobody knows what's going on. Lest this seem unnecessarily abstract, let's consider an example of the interpretative...

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