Look Both Ways

Like many kids of the sixties I grew up watching Batman. I mean Batman—the campy, goofy, live-action version of the caped crusader that was must-see TV for young boys and other hero wannabes. This was all hung upside-down, as it were, by Tim Burton’s reboot of the troubled crime-fighter. Then came Christopher Nolan’s canon. The Dark Knight remains one of my favorite movies as it seems unstintingly honest. We are all part Joker and part Batman. Neither is ideal. More than that, this movie was my first introduction to Harvey Two-Face Dent. You see, I didn’t grow up reading Batman comics, and the television adventures never featured him. At least not as far as I can remember. Two-Face is a fearful foe because you can never tell when he’s telling the truth. That can be very scary.

The other day I asked my mother about someone I remembered from church growing up. This was a woman I hadn’t seen since the Nixon Administration and I was curious how she was doing, and even if she was still alive. My mother told me she was still around, but she doesn’t talk to her any more because the friend is “two-faced.” Among evangelical Christians this is one of the most feared of epithets. Telling different “truths” to different parties is a certain way to demonstrate want of moral fiber. Hypocrisy. It’s also a non-refundable ticket on the bus heading south, if you get my meaning. Christians want to be thought of as honest, if nothing else. Harvey Dent would’ve had real trouble being an evangelical (with some noteworthy exceptions).


Businesses, however, are disciples of Janus. I often ponder the sheet number of items that companies classify as “public facing.” What, I wonder, is the antonym? I’ve even heard of corporations that will take legal action against former employees who honestly admit how business is done. No one is permitted to speak of what happens in the entrepreneurial boudoir. Corporations, under the law, are persons. They are afforded the secret inner life of real individuals. There was a “naked business” craze in early in the millennium, but that petered out. We have a public facing face and a reality that no one is allowed to know. Trade secrets. Information that only one corporation may have. Over in Gotham, Two-Face slips into a dark alley and escapes. In little white churches across the country, those who speak different truths are shunned. In the corporate high-rise, businesses are now people. They are, however, two-faced. I miss the Batman of my youth.

One thought on “Look Both Ways

  1. You might like to know that, as a child of the eighties, I also grew up watching reruns of the same campy Batman tv show.

    My family didn’t have cable until I was in high school, during the nineties. Back in my childhood, the networks constantly played reruns, even of shows my parents watched as children in the fifties.

    Watching all those reruns allows me to make cross-generational cultural references. Maybe that is one of the things that made us GenXers such lovers of pop culture, having grown up at the cusp of old and new media.

    I’m old enough to share your appreciation of those campy classics. But I’m young enough to have been equally influenced by what followed. Tim Burton’s Batman came out in 1989 when I was in middle school. And Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins came out in 2005 when I was still in my twenties.

    Like you, I didn’t read the comic books. I only watched the early series because it was regularly played on tv. I guess it amused me as a child. I never was that excited about the Burton version of Batman. The Nolan Dark Knight finally made me appreciate Batman in all his noirish glory.

    Did you watch the recent movie about Batman and Superman? It was decent. There was a lot to the story that easily could have been broken up into multiple movies.


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