I know, he is Clark Kent, sorry, Bruce Wayne, but who is he really? A multi billionaire who protects good from evil! Really, is that still fashionable in 2012? Do people still swallow this premise and if so why? In a wonderfully insightful article by Elliott Prasse-Freeman and Sayres Rudy Batman Occupied they question, among other things, whether we can accept what constitutes good and evil anymore. It does not actually seem to mean anything in a world where the ‘good’ is merely a mask and evil either doesn’t exist or if it does no one seems to be able to explain what it is (excluding Kant… that is). A crucial question in Prasse-Freeman and Rudy’s argument appears to ask ‘How can a billionaire who keeps his billions’ be ‘good’ when the city he lives in, Gotham, is filled with either poor (if not destitute) people; the rich and corrupt and in the middle those who ‘stay clean’ to avoid dropping into the abyss. By staying clean the inference here is on making the occasional right noises but not actually doing anything. In other words, the ‘respectable’ classes of late capitalism.
It is ironic that a lone gunman should choose a screening of a Batman film (The Dark Knight Rises) especially one with a neuroscience background, to cull some cinema goers. It exposes the legitimation effect that the film has in securing poverty and inequality and also the role that the rest of the media will now play in making the shooter out to be a ‘loony’. All the questions why will be obsessively focused by most of the media to a disagreement that was had, or hyper intelligence that could not be controlled or a dysfunctional family, or drugs… but not the system in which he and Wayne frequent. That will not and cannot be fixed, in fiction or non fiction, for fear of Wayne losing his billions or his alter ego being made redundant or the shooter becoming the victim. No that will not happen! The occasional culling is a price worth paying for a liberty that enables some to be billionaires and many others to be impoverished. It’s in the american constitution don’t you know!
Also does Batman and all the other superheroes actually do anything except wait for the next money spinning sequel? Do the audience for that matter, besides riding the ‘thrill’ for a couple of hours? Reminds me a bit of having a candy floss binge and swearing that we’ll never do it again. Until the next time!
So who is Batman? He is a cartoon comic character who first appeared as the 2nd World War was taking shape in Europe but 2 years before the USA (where he was created) joined in the fun. Could Batman be the personification of the US citizen who believes only they can solve the crime problem? But whether it is America or a lone caped crusader the winner is never the ‘little people’. Unfortunately for many of them the candy floss has done its job and they are otherwise distracted. It is easier to choke on the candy, over and over, than not buy it. Weird eh!
Can I beg that the title of the next and hopefully absolutely last Batman film is: Batman: How I became Superfluous! Now I would watch that.