Where Batman is really at

Diana M. writes:

Here is a pre-massacre interview with Christian Bale, which further supports my point that “Batman was primarily motivated not by the desire to do good, but by rage at seeing his parents murdered in front of his eyes.”

Bale tells the interviewer:

“And clearly [Bruce Wayne] has no life other than this monster who he’s created—a monster who does good, but it’s driven by his feeling of being monstrous himself…. “

Straight from the actor-horse’s mouth. Batman does not want to do good. He’s a monster. He’s driven by rage, and what good he does is an accidental by-product of his inner monstrousness.

LA replies:
Excellent insights. Thank you for bringing out this key point and stating it so well.

By the way, the commenter who said that The Dark Knight Rises is the “best conservative movie in the last 20 years” and that my criticisms of it were “knee jerk,” “110 percent mistaken and wrongheaded,” and “just plain nuts,” has departed VFR in a rage (declaring that he will never read another word of mine), over my remark that “People who defend these movies as ‘conservative’ are playing the role in our culture of the useful idiots of yore.”

- end of initial entry -

Matt writes:

I agree with Diana M.’s post. One caveat is that the butler Alfred (played by Michael Caine), who in effect is the conscience of the movie, recognizes this and wishes for a different life for his master, freed from the vengeful monster Batman, settled down with a nice girl. In the end Alfred appears to get his wish: Batman apparently sacrifices himself to save the city, but Bruce Wayne in reality sent the nuke away on autopilot and we—including Alfred in addition to the audience— get a brief scene with Bruce at a cafe with the girl, peaceful and smiling.

LA to Diana M.:
You seem very well informed on the subject of Batman, and about modern pop culture nihilism in general. So one wonders, why were so shocked and disturbed by the movie?

Diana M. replies:

Good question.

Short answer: I shouldn’t have been.

Long answer, read on.

My education about Batman is quite recent. It started a week or two before I saw the film. As a kid, I avoided Batman. My older brothers were big Superman fans, not Batman. We never watched the TV show, preferring such intellectual fare as The Beverly Hillbillies and (the big fave) The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

But, about pop culture nihilism in general, yes, quite well-informed. Although I pay as little attention to pop culture now, I used to work in PR. It’s like riding a bicycle. You get back in the swing pretty easily. So perhaps I shouldn’t be so shocked and disturbed, but I was. Perhaps rather than becoming de-sensitized to screen violence over the years, I’ve become more sensitive and less tolerant.

And the violence in this was a doozy. It was violence unmoored. There was no real movie. I’ll send you some more stuff about that later, but this was just a series of violent scenes strung together across a flimsy plot with no mooring to anything rational. It was so bad that I kept saying to myself, “What’s happened, why did I pay to see this?”

So I should tell you. I went as a Christian Bale fan. I discovered his work earlier this year. I was extremely impressed by his acting abilities and fascinated by his ability to immerse himself in a character. (Like Meryl Streep, on her game.) I was a fan, not an idolizer.

But I didn’t know that he was Batman and had not seen the previous installments. Learning that he was playing the part, I decided to see the film with another friend who is also a Bale fan. And that’s how I came to be in the audience of a film I would ordinarily have no interest in seeing.

By the way, I’m not against movie violence per se, and I am capable of enjoying a film with whose message I disagree. But that is a discussion for another time.

Perhaps some of my shock and dismay was disappointment.

July 28

James R. writes:

You’ve used the phrase, “Where X is really at,” a couple of times, most recently in the “Where Batman is Really At” post. Usually when you use a phrasing more than once, it’s a literary allusion or reference, so now I’m curious where it’s from.

LA replies:

Of course “Where so-and-so is at” is a common expression from the Sixties. But you’re right, there was a particular literary line I was echoing. It’s from the Bob Dylan-Jacques Levy song “Joey,” a fictionalized and romanticized saga of the gangster Joey Gallo, from Dylan’s 1976 album Desire:

There was talk they killed their rivals,
But the truth was far from that.
No one ever knew for sure
Where they were really at.

Echoes and allusions to such obscure lines are obviously not something I would expect readers to pick up on. They are things that pop into my consciousness in the course of blogging, and if they work I use them. It was very observant of you to suspect that the phrase was a literary allusion, and since you asked its source, I told you.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 23, 2012 03:52 PM | Send

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