Wall Street Journal column: "Batman and 300 were pro-Bush movies"

Posting link to article in this thread to avoid crossing streams with spoiler thread:

A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .

Oh, wait a minute. That’s not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a “W.”

It boggles the mind. I thought it was tongue in cheek at first, but no… unless the whole thing is a prank, which would certainly be reassuring.

If it gets more people to go out and see the movie, I can’t really be pressed to criticize his delusions.

I’ll just copy and paste my question from the other thread:

Doesn’t the fact that Batman never violates his values and never kills anyone, while shouldering the blame for someone else’s crimes to give people hope, pretty much make him the opposite of Bush?

He also wrote “True Crime” and “Don’t Say a Word.”

Someone dumb enough to be a Bush supporter sees something like the cell-phone sonar thing and thinks “Wow, just like Bush’s wiretapping system!” without noticing all of the huge ways in which it is obviously different… ways which suggest the filmmakers were making quite the opposite statement of what these people think. Batman himself built CHECKS and BALANCES into the system despite the fact that no outside force required him to do so. How detached from reality do you have to be to equate that sort of behavior with Bush the Lesser?

The movie frequently draws parallels between the war on terror and Batman’s war on the Joker, most notably between the cellphone sonar system and the wiretapping scandal (by having Morgan Freeman call it unethical). These Bush supporters you’re talking about must be reasonably bright.

You don’t have to be bright to see the parallels, the movie pretty much slams you over the head with them. But I guess you do have to be bright to see that while there are parallels between the situations, the way Batman handles them in the end is VERY different from the way Bush does. You can sum up the entire conversation at dinner (Bruce,Ballerina,Harvey,Rachel) as TOO MUCH EXECUTIVE POWER IS BAD. Bruce/Batman follows through with his belief in this by both placing checks and balances on himself and basically doing everything he can to create a situation in which the Batman is no longer needed. Again, in what universe is that showing support for what Bush has done? Not the one I live in.

IMO, the most Bush-like character in the movie is Harvey Dent (the full arc of him, not just the good Dent). Someone who may really think he is fighting the good fight, but who when “attacked” is shown to be corruptable and willing to go to any length in an attempt to even up with those who he thinks have wronged him.

The filmmakers acquit Batman pretty thoroughly by the end but that doesn’t change the fact that they drew a parallel between how he handles going after the Joker and how Bush goes after terrorists, sidestepped the real-world ethical considerations with a few lines of perfunctory dialogue as in the dinner scene, and then showed these tactics as being necessary to achieving some degree of success. The attitude of the film towards things like coerced confession and domestic spying is that they are unethical and highly imperfect, but it also has no idea about how Batman would save his loved ones or stop the Joker without them, much like our President. The whole skyscraper sequence was sort of a joke in this regard: he used his wiretapping system to save innocent civilians who look like terrorists from terrorists who look like innocent civilians.



batman tortur- used “intense” interrogation techniques with the joker and failed to save his loved one because he believed info gotten from torture. he tortured the gang leader and failed to make him talk even after breaking his legs because the joker is more willing to break the law, more willing to kill, more willing to go break the rules. you can’t beat a terrorist by trying to terrorize or convince people to be on your side by being a bigger terrorist.

a side note is how joker is able to take the cop hostage because of a mirror shard from when batman was bashing joker’s head in, and got an opportunity to use it when the cop tried to beat up joker some more. this indicts the good guys’ use of brutality, doesn’t it? although he had the bomb set up, had the joker been left alone, it would have been more difficult to make his escape had he not had a hostage cop and was outside the interrogation room.

That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. It was “bad intelligence”, yet the addresses were correct; they saved one person from being blown up. If Batman had only started beating him up a few minutes earlier they would have been able to save both of them.

Because a character named the joker would never use reverse psychology.

still spoilers!

nope. the joker told batman because he wanted to, so he could enjoy it when batman saved the wrong person. batman beating him up just amused the hell out of joker. joker didn’t let out anything he didn’t want to let out in that interrogation room.

Why so serious?

That’s retarded. Did you even watch the movie? The filmmakers went so far as to stick in some dialogue with the cop before he starts beating the Joker to MAKE DAMN SURE nobody came to the conclusion you did, and yet you still did!

The Joker didn’t talk when he did because he didn’t want to be beat anymore, he talked when he did because that’s what he was planning to do all along. Had Batman started beating him sooner he just would have had a longer beating.

Jesus Christ on a fuckin’ pogo stick.

Yeah, a man who cuts his own cheeks open is SO afraid of a few hits to the face.

The original op ed in the Wall Street Journal, (its editorial page is a loony right wing playground that would be more at home at the Washington Times) is laughably stupid. Unfortunately, its this kind of “magic” (“faith based reality” if you will) thinking that has led this administration to do so much damage.

When your justifications for the actions of the President of the United States are in a movie about a billionaire psychopath who dresses up like a bat and beats people up, chasing another psychopath dressed like a clown, you have scraped bottom.

I don’t care if the Batmobile had a Bush/Cheney sticker on it, the contents of a movie don’t justify the real world actions of anyone, much less GWB. But it is a mark of how bankrupt, morally and intellectually, the defenders of this administration have become, that that is exactly what they are left with.



I’m with everybody who says that the film’s parallels to current events exist as a rejection of what Bush stands for.

The WSJ editorial, after namechecking a few popular moral values, segues swiftly into breathlessly demanding their abandonment. As several people before me have noted, this is “destroy the village in order to save it” logic, not to mention the ugly perspective that defenders of good must be blessed with the bounty of evil. (Anybody remember that “People are sheep, terrorists are wolves, Real Men are BAD ASS DAWGS” crap reposted in P&R a few months ago?)

Batman, by contrast, refuses to abandon his principles. The closest he comes in the Nolan movies is in Begins, where he deliberately allows Ra’s al Ghul to die in a train crash. (Also, he blows up that monastery, but that’s partly an accident and it’s never narratively treated as murder.) Dark Knight underlines this in several scenes, most notably the end of the Slaughter chase, where he crashes his motorcycle to avoid killing the Joker.

Some dubious measures are adopted, but their effectiveness is very much in question. The issue of torture’s already been excellently covered in this thread. The sonar is of extremely limited use and there is a tacit agreement between Fox and Batman that it must be destroyed (which they follow through on). (I wonder if the next film will see the Riddler or somebody tapping into that cell phone sonar network.) And notice what it reveals: that the apparent threats the police are planning to kill are in fact innocent.

Batman has always been ready to doubt his own legitimacy and accept blame. He’s an introspective guy and he doesn’t take his power for granted. His image as a wealthy idiot is one that he carefully constructed and uses for the common good. (Remember that scene in Begins where he evacuates Wayne Manor by pretending to be drunk and hostile?) Batman doesn’t abuse his influence as Batman to make Bruce Wayne richer. Instead, he dumps Bruce Wayne’s money into his vast and personally demanding public works project.

There is one aspect of the film that I felt demonstrated anti-Bush sentiment above all, an aspect that negative reviews – especially those that complain about the film’s “hopelessness” – don’t mention (with one exception where it is briefly dismissed as a cheap trick): the ferryboat scene. For me, everything after the ferryboats was dénouement.

What happens on those ferries? Two large groups of people, presented with the opportunity to kill each other for their own safety, choose not to. Blowing up random people for an illusory security is pretty much the story of the Iraq War. The public rejects the false choice intended to provoke them and neither boat pulls the trigger on the other. In both cases, the decision comes down to an individual who unambiguously refuses to kill.

It would have been too heavy-handed for the commuter who can’t bring himself to twist the detonator’s key to have said “Harvey Dent would put us all on trial for this,” or for the convict who throws his boat’s device overboard to have said “Batman never kills people,” but that subtext is there in the way the major characters talk about leading by example. This situation’s resolution demonstrates that Batman really is winning, that preserving the memory of Harvey Dent (as they do in the finale) is worth something, and that there damn well IS hope. People were behavin’ like they ought to: good.

This is not enough for conservatives, who reach the end of the film still waiting for the kind of heroics they are accustomed to – paladin heroics, the glorious murderer designating and destroying victims. If Dark Knight had been pro-Bush, it would have returned to the “blighted neighborhood” theme of Batman Begins and the Narrows, and the happy ending would involve the neighborhood’s catastrophic annihilation, the better to be rid of all those bad people. Then they’d deliver an electric chair to Arkham and get busy killing the mentally ill. Batman would give his sonar to the police and Jim Gordon would hunt weed smokers with it.

If that bullshit is hope, then yes, Dark Knight is a hopeless movie. If only we lived in such a hopeless world.

Edit: And as for 300, America is Persia. Fucking duh.

Doesn’t a work become “great” when lots of various groups (and lazy college students writing their dissertations) think that a movie or book or work of art speaks to them in different ways? Even the libertarians enjoyed this one. Sounds good to me, although I’m not trying to imply that TDK is the next Illiad.

I tend to twitch every time I notice something in a movie that parallels modern politics anyway. I thought those were the weakest and dumbest parts of The Dark Knight. Just give me more interesting and dark characters and drama (but not lame Hollywood dark tragedies… it’s a fine line).

I believe in Unicorn McGriddle.