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

Obviously Dark Knight is not pro-Bush as nothing that comes out of Hollywood would be pro-Bush. However I do find the thread’s analysis of the sonar scenes interesting.

If the sonar scenes were an indictment against Bush’s wiretapping (since we know he and he alone is responsible for it), then why would Fox go ahead and still use it? Is it because Batman promises to destroy it after it serves its purpose, which is to stop a terrorist? So in a real life counterpart, is there something somewhere that says that it will be used for infinity? Or perhaps just to put an end to global terrorism, just like putting an end to the Joker. The dinner conversation as well as the sonar scene seemed to agree with the idea that in a time of war/crisis/terror, giving powers to a single individual could be necessary…as long as that person gives them back. Basically the same idea Batman goes with with Fox using the sonar, cause he trusts Fox to wield the power appropriately.

Don’t make assumptions on what I believe. As I said, I don’t think it’s pro-Bush and would have to assume it’s anti-Bush since pretty much every message film is. I just think this thread is glossing over some of the film’s details to combat something they don’t agree with.

The Joker isn’t a terrorist.

Your comparison seems flawed. Joker is a finite threat: he is one man. Saying that ending global terrorism is similarly finite doesn’t work, it would have to be to use the sonar until there were no more criminals in Gotham.

There is a reason why things like FISA exist, and it is to oversee and keep up on the extreme times like having the Joker running riot. If Batman is the government and Fox is the people, Fox understands that extreme times call for extreme measures. That Bat-government put the controls for the sonar in the hands of Lucius Q. Public is the critical difference in the two examples.

That’s the pro-Democrat part. :) The Democrats yell and kick and scream (genuinely and correctly) at all the stupid things the Republicans do, but then are happy to abuse and waste power just the same when they’re elected. “It’s okay guys, we can handle it!” Especially funny when they lose the next election cycle and it’s back to another party abusing things.

I’d rather that no one gets to play with the ball and they are all put into timeout, but I’m in a very tiny minority of nutcases.

OH Christ is this discussion stupid. Its a fucking movie.

But, to prove I can be as stupid as the WSJ I present my reading of the movie. -

'Cause obviously DK is a Bush allegory, but the WSJ picked the character wrong.


He isn’t Batman, he’s Two-Face. The elected enforcer of the constitution who reacts badly when - in an obvious 9/11 parallel - nostril girl (I keed, call me Maggie) is blown up and Harvey Dent loses his shit. Two Face doesn’t go nuts because his looks are ruined, but rather in his grief, he allows his better instincts to be overwhelmed by his dark half (Cheney) and a childish belief in fate (the coin/Jebus).

Batman here is the constitution (btw) and stops Good Dent (pre 9-11 Bush) from torturing a mental patient - a clear reference to the torture and resulting bad information from Al Libi (et al) . It is the Batman (the constitution and/or America) that generates parthogenetically the Joker (Bin Laudin…duh) a force of chaos that exists purely to oppose him. It is Dent/Bush who instead of listening to the Batman (constitution) allows the Joker to drive him crazy and starts flailing at any perceived enemies. Ultimately he attacks the wrong target and ends up destroying his reputation to the point that only a sacrifice of the Batman (constitution) can cover up his evil.

I’m not feeling up to showing how Dent not killing Joker in the Hospital was like Bush letting bin Laudin escape Tora Bora, but I can twist shit like that all damn day - cause, back to my original point - the original column is intellectually bankrupt.

Relax Coco, I followed the dramatic logic of the sequence: Batman is goaded into beating the suspect, the suspect then gives him the information he needs, then it turns out he lied about who was placed where. Per your interpretation, he somehow knew exactly when to give him the information so that Batman would get there with only seconds to spare; I don’t see a clock in there so I guess the Joker’s genius includes a prophetic sense of timing as well.

So in your latter comparison, the government would put wiretapping in the hands of the people. Yeah that makes sense.

Your initial comparision is a bit better but saying Joker is just one man so he can’t possibly represent something more than that but on the other hand saying Batman represents the government…once again, like most in this thread, just picking and choosing whatever you want to make it fit your belief.

I doubt anyone here can make the two things of TDK being anti-Bush and the sonar scene mesh together.

Lucius represents the accountability and oversight that the Bush administration refuses to accept.

It does. The representatives of the people are called Congress, and they’re supposed to oversee such legislative changes.

Your initial comparision is a bit better but saying Joker is just one man so he can’t possibly represent something more than that but on the other hand saying Batman represents the government…once again, like most in this thread, just picking and choosing whatever you want to make it fit your belief.

The first one is your comparison, the second one is from me. They aren’t meant to mix.

And I have to say, hearing complaints about cherry picking stuff is pretty funny coming from Bob Cherub.

yes, the joker has a good sense of timing, comedic and maniacal. most villains do. all he had to do was not release info too soon to avoid a double rescue.

I read 300 before Bush came into office, and while the source is obviously not a metaphor for Iraq, the film was clearly something greenlit post September 11th.

I went to see it with a friend who had never read the comic and we were absolutely shocked by the parallels. So, a warrior king starts a war against a Persian menace… a war deemed illegal by Ancient Greece’s answer to the United Nations, who are all hopelessly corrupt perverts anyway. He goes off to war anyway, joined by a small (and utterly incompetent) Coalition of the Willing, who quickly get killed and run cowardly away. The Persians are all mutants. Meanwhile, back at home, the warrior king’s wife, Laura Bush, tries to face down a hostile senate who wants to impeach their king. Trying to broke a deal with the opposition, she is raped by the head of the Democratic Party. Afterwards, she kills him on the floor of the Senate, simultaneously proving that his supposed peaceful liberal political stance was just a front for the fact that he had been bought off by the Persians.

No, Unicorn, America isn’t Persia in 300.

My friend, who is very liberal and against the war, was absolutely appalled. So was I, but less by the subject matter and the highlighted parallels than the fact the movie was jingoistic, goofy, melodramatic, imagination-bereft trash that could have been twenty minutes long if it wasn’t filmed entirely in slow-motion.

The film did give use the “THIS IS MADNESS!!!” meme, though. That should count for something.

Yes, that is one of the most horrific things that it has to answer for.

First let’s consider circumstance. The Persians were invading Greece. They asked for surrender, wishing the Greek city-states to become Persian tributaries. Where surrender was refused, they attacked. Leonidas didn’t start the war; the arrival of the Persian envoy was a declaration of war with an invitation to surrender.

Similarly, the United States massed an army near Iraq and made outrageous demands of Saddam Hussein, then invaded. (Could Hussein have avoided war by abdicating, though? I expect abdication would have been followed by occupation and things would be similar now. Similarly, Persian authorities would have been present in Vichy Sparta.) Furthermore, this was done as part of a general effort toward regional domination and concern for resources and revenue. In the case of Persia, there were the issues of tax collection and army provisioning; for America, “stability in the Middle East” means a military presence to watch over the flow of oil and other goods.

Iraq did not invade or even raid America. Iraq didn’t move up to America after a string of conquests in Central America and the West Indies. There was no demand for surrender or declaration of war, no Iraqi army and navy massed on the border and ready to strike if capitulation was not forthcoming.

We move on to organization. As everyone who has heard even a word about Ancient Greece knows, it wasn’t unified. It was, like the Islamic Arab world, a loose knot of states with some culture in common and traditionally associated geographical locations. Persia, on the other hand, was an empire, with all that that implies. It was massive, bureaucratic, a little bit federal… and it vested the authority to make war in a single person.

Iraq’s half-assed history of conquest maps pretty well to Greek squabbles – it could pass for Corinth or Thebes, making war with its neighbors to dubious effect. The oracles have particularly close parallels in the Islamic world because they are a supposed religious authority which not everyone heeds. Islam is decentralized; there are no universally accepted Muslim holy men among the living, no matter your sect. Would Hussein – relatively secular as leaders go – have considered himself bound by rulings from, say, that Mahdi Army guy? Like hell he would have.

Now let’s consider ethos. 300 depicts the Persians as degenerate and wealthy. These concepts do attach to a particular Western stereotype of a particular class of Arab: the wealthy noble. Those guys do still exist, but they aren’t invested with the same The Enemy significance as humorless religious scholars, ascetic fanatics, and of course veiled women too modest for their own good. However, the image of Americans as fat, rude, ugly, perverted, licentious, and obscenely wealthy is part of popular imagination around the world, including America itself. America is the Land of Porn, a country where divorce is normal and every public place has pictures of tits with slogans encouraging you to spend your money on some expensive bullshit you don’t need.

It’s true that there’s a lot of hysteria in war support, but nobody has ever accused the Democrats of raping Laura Bush, and she’s played a relatively minor role in promoting the war. There has never been a surrender movement for her to thwart, partly because there is nobody to surrender to and nobody demanding surrender.

Let us turn penultimately to outcome. 300 explicitly celebrates the achievement of the Spartans at Thermopylae as a lesson to the Persians to fear Greek courage and determination. This is why the battle is considered glorious for the Spartans even though they lost – they’re martyrs, and their defense of their country is significant in part because it’s a promise of what their countrymen will also do in turn.

This is consistent with the reality of the Iraqi resistance, which doesn’t win every battle or succeed with every plan but DOES speak to the impossibility of a peaceful occupation. It’s completely at odds with American attitudes, which paint the deaths of soldiers as tragedies, not triumphs. America is decidedly post-“ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods.”

(The film leaves out the other Greeks who outnumbered the Spartans among those who stayed behind. I think this is more for concision than ideology – in two hours, there’s room for complex city-state politics OR a ton of k-rad bitchin’ slow-motion fight scenes full of jump cuts and short closeups, but not both. Either way, if this had been stressed, it would have been yet another strong similarity to the situation in Iraq, where the resistance has incorporated non-Iraqis who see the American invasion as a threat not just to Iraq but to all Greece.)

And now for the killing stroke: recall which side has beards.

But…but the Greeks are white and the Persians aren’t! And if Hollywood has taught me nothing else, it’s that when a beleaguered band of brave white guys has to hold off a teeming horde of murderous darkies, we’re the white guys!

So Unicorn: your argument is that because 300 isn’t an entirely-point-by-point metaphor for the War in Iraq (from America’s perspective), it’s a not-entirely-point-by-point metaphor for the War in Iraq (from the Middle East’s perspective)? That’s awesome.

Also: “The Persians can’t be Iraqis because they don’t have beards.” Well, neither do a lot of the Spartans in 300, and actually, if you watch the movie, there are a good number of Persians with beards in the movie, and hey, most Iraqi men shave, as do most American men, except disgusting goon beardos. But I don’t even want to debate the moustache fashions of world cultures with you. I just wanted to say well done. Checkmate indeed.

Honestly, I don’t think we’ll change each other’s minds, but the movie is totally about a lone nation of warriors defending western civilization from crazed, murderous Middle Eastern hordes… which, amazingly, is the exact way hardcore conservatives habe described the War on Terror for the last 7 years. You must really want to mesh your love of 300 with your political ideology to come to the exact opposite conclusion. I’ll leave you to it.

Gordon told him what time it was.

No he didn’t

Oops. Yeah, you’re right.

Of course not. That never happens. But here we are anyway.

Leonidas had a beard; Saddam Hussein had a beard. Xerxes was beardless, George Bush is beardless. Indeed, checkmate.

The movie is totally about one nation in a loosely affiliated regional group of nations being invaded by an arrogant imperial power bent on expanding its influence… which, amazingly, is the reality of the Iraq War.

It’s not from anybody’s perspective (although any audience is encouraged to identify with the Spartans because they are treated very positively) and it’s not entirely point-by-point for anyone. No metaphor is perfect, especially when a complex historical situation is being likened to a complex geopolitical situation. If the movie depicts one single and specific war, it is of course the Greco-Persian War, and its perspective on that war is Spartan/Greek. (And to ram that home, the narrator is himself a contemporary Spartan.)

I want to remind you that as you’ve said, the movie’s based on a graphic novel written before the war. Every point of similarity you find between the movie and the American interpretation of the war (Leonidas, declaration of war, Persian menace, the oracles, small coalition, mutants). The exception is the Spartan Queen subplot, which if memory serves was added to the film. My memory said the same thing at the time, when I felt that the movie was scrambling for something to break up the fight scenes and ginned up the weakest part of the movie so that there could be a little more talking in a film where talking is definitely not the main draw.

You must really want to mesh your dislike of 300 (which I have belatedly realized informs a great deal of your position) with your dislike of a certain political ideology to claim the film has such a definite and damning bearing on current events.

I liked 300… but contra your accusations, I wouldn’t put it in my top five, or even my top ten, and I can’t call it love. (If I’m gonna talk about love, baby, it has to be serious.) The movie’s very pretty to look at, but it’s like a music video, a Koyaanisqatsi of fantasy violence. I don’t think it’d have much rewatchability – you’re not going to notice new wrinkles in the plot the second time around, or discover another meaning in the dialogue.

Immediately after seeing 300, a friend of mine (who liked it more than I did) said, “300 was really different from most movies because it wasn’t postmodern at all. There were no ambiguities, no multiple points of view, not even any twists.” I thought about that for a minute, agreed, and said that for that reason, I wished they’d done the Peloponnesian War instead. Maybe in another movie.