Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2008 by Hunter Stephenson
Today, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece that is on crack. The writer’s main point is that Batman, The Dark Knight himself, is George W. Bush and only by placing America’s current president in a mask and an ab-defining bodysuit can liberals and conservatives alike respect his neverending fight against the evils of our day. The intro actually compares the film’s bat symbol to a “W.” Is the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper this desperate for hits?
“There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.”
In keeping with the WSJ’s batshit allegory, wouldn’t Osama bin Laden be locked up in Arkham (Guantanamo Bay?) by now? Yes, the film’s sonar scenes draw obvious comparisons to The Patriot Act—but also, Britain’s widespread Bluetooth spying that was just uncovered this week. Also, any significant other who ventures to the dark side and uses Web Watcher. Moreover, Batman’s obsession with throwing criminals behind bars (not killing them and their cousins), and the moral dissonance that results, is one of the character’s signature traits; see Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, which was released during the Reagan years, and confronted them accordingly. And I’m sorry, did Batman decide mid-film to forget about the Joker’s bombs and hop over to Metropolis and spend trillions of Gotham’s citizens’ money fighting criminal sects to no avail? The writer makes no point of examining any of this. Of course not. He’s too busy zig-zagging across Hollywood blockbusters using his dooshy moral compass…
“Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense — values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right — only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like “300,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Narnia,” “Spiderman 3″ and now “The Dark Knight”?”
Yeah, yeah, yeah, go ahead and take Spider-Man 3. Big loss there. And why is it that this writer wishes to propose to the world that George W. Bush is a martyr—here we go—but can’t come out and say it without cloaking his limp, frightening declaration in a comic book adaptation that is the biggest film of the year, and one of the most popular ever?
“When heroes arise who take on those difficult duties themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. As Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon says [spoiler deleted, where Gordon says the title of the movie].”
If given the choice for a presidential candidate, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne would probably vote for Bloomberg. And if George W. Bush is like any character in The Dark Knight, he’s that jarringly stupid, inept cop who spouts bad one-liners when shit hits the fan over and over. What was up with that guy? There is a big difference between a dumb cop in a movie or IRL and Dirty Harry. To crib from the mighty W: Is the Wall Street Journal drunk?
Discuss: Is Batman actually George W. Bush? Who knew? Is the WSJ correct?