Another Dark Knight

Batman was dreamed up in the late 1930s as an ambiguous character that fought crime and protected innocent civilians. The backstory emerged that he had witnessed his parents being shot down as a child, and eventually adopted the identity of a bat to frighten the perps. Batman never, in principle, used guns. Of course, the DC Comics character eventually scored a wonderfully campy television series that entertained many of us as children. It even spawned a movie. Then, fifty years after the original, Tim Burton gave us a darker, more serious Batman. The series of promising movies degenerated into the unforgivable Batman and Robin, and many assumed the flash in the pan was over. We didn’t need any super heroes. Christopher Nolan resurrected this bat in Batman Begins, and when I first saw The Dark Knight I was stunned. Good and evil danced a waltz so delicate that you were never sure who was leading. The frisson was palpable.

Thursday night the Nolan series’ final episode was released. I’ve not seen it yet, but from the moment I step out of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Times Square until I arrive at work, I will have seen several multi-story Batmen looking down on the real life Gotham, explosions erupting and everyone wondering if Batman will survive this film. Yesterday morning the news opened with a horrifying story from real life in Aurora, Colorado. A gunman opened fire on a crowd of opening night movie viewers, killing at least twelve. Several children were shot. The gunman, like a real-life character from Arkham, was apprehended and claimed to have explosives in his house. I stared at the story and wondered what has become of humanity.

Facebook has turned into a venue for flying political banners. I’m always surprised to see how conservative people I knew in school have become—in those days no one had me beat for non-progressive thought. I’m truly amazed, at times, by the glorification of America’s gun culture that accompanies conservative causes. People want to shoot and want to glorify their right to shoot. I have, on rare occasions, shot rifles for sport—only at targets and only when others have asked me to. There is no denying the rush of power one feels, knowing that, like God, you can destroy the thing far distant from you with just a squeeze of the finger. I’m not sure I’m happy in a universe populated by such gods. I grew up a conservative, but also a pacifist. I grew up watching Batman defeat evil so clearly defined that no room remained for ambiguity. Yes, I grew up a conservative, but then I just grew up. I will watch The Dark Knight Rises and will not know what to expect.

Neither good nor bad.

7 thoughts on “Another Dark Knight

  1. So if one of those awful Conservatives had been in that movie theater with a licensed concealed weapon and whipped it out as soon as this idiot started his killing spree, the shoe would be on the other foot. Problem was all the Conservatives were at home in bed. They had to go to work the next day. I’m not licensed and I don’t carry, but come the revolution, I know which of my friends would be able to protect me. Let’s keep the bad guys the bad guys and quit pretending decent, hard-working people who happen to enjoy venison are the Great Satan.


    • Steve Wiggins

      Jane, if a conservative pulled out a gun and shot the gunman, s/he would be just as guilty. It is the culture I object to, not the individual.


      • I want to be clear here. You’re objecting to the outrage Conservatives feel at this horrendous act? Personally, I’m outraged by our culture that embraces violence so much that they’ve got little kids at a midnight movie like this Batman movie. What ever happened to Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcakes?


        • Steve Wiggins

          Jane, I object to guns in the hands of civilians. Statistics completely bear this out–nations where gun ownership is restricted have far fewer crimes of this sort. Fantasy films aren’t the problem–putting lethal weapons in the hands of the citizenry is. Read deeper.


        • We aren’t going to see eye to eye on this one. What really galls me is the politicizing. People should be angry about the movie theater massacre and perhaps your fb friends saw it as an excuse to get out their deer rifles and hurt something, but unlike the idiot at the theater they just talked about it. None of my fb friends expressed any desire for personal retribution. Perhaps you just need to unfriend a few folks.


  2. Stephen Tarr

    Steve: I appreciate your reflections. Generally, with acts of violence like this there is a lot of (deserved) commentary about the problem of undiagnosed mental illness and the malign influence of the NRA. What is often left unsaid and perhaps unnoticed is the underlying cultural belief in the myth of redemptive violence. You do well at exposing that issue.


    • Steve Wiggins

      Steve, thanks for your sensible reply! It helps me to know that there are those who know how to look for depth rather than surface connections. It helps restore my faith in the human enterprise!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.