Conservatives and Batman: The Politics of the Dark Knight
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I don't think I could hold on to my official film critic badge if I didn't say something about the biggest movie of this and any summer. For crying out loud, it's the #1 film of ALL TIME on the imdb poll. I refer of course to John McCain's wet dream. Just kidding. Sort of.
I don't agree with this misguided writer, but it's easy to see how McCain might fully embrace the milieu of The Dark Knight, a world where chaos and terror lie around every corner and where people's only salvation is cowering under the protection of government-sponsored violence. But what I like about Christopher Nolan's vision is he's smart enough to interrogate that position. While Batman's presence is necessary (this is a summer blockbuster after all), the movie and Batman wrestle with whether his style of vigilante justice is more harmful than not.
The film also calls into question certain axioms of contemporary entertainment (and government): 1) that good always triumphs over evil, so just sit back with a cold one and relax, 2) that the good guys are always good and therefore free to break the law whenever they want, and 3) that those bad things good guys do have no lasting repercussions. Batman is equated at times with a burgeoning fascism and, at other times, with how ancient Rome suspended its democracy in the face of violence and never recovered. There's also an amazing moment when Michael Caine talks about how he captured a bandit in Burma: "We burned the forest down." Anyone who doesn't connect that story to Vietnam and Iraq isn't paying attention.