The Dark Knight and the Misguided Message

24 07 2008

So I just saw the new batman flick.  It’s only redeeming quality is that Heath Ledger actually does a good job.  What disturbed me most was the take home message of the film.  I’ll just come out and say it – it might have been made by the Bush administration.

What The Dark Knight tells us is that when there is danger in the world, and when people are afraid, it’s not only acceptable but preferable that we forget about civil liberties.  It’s okay to lie to the public, to trick them, to work in the shadows – because damn it, that’s what they need.  They need to believe in a hero, in the possibility of goodness – and god knows they’re too stupid to be treated like anything other than children.

There’s even a scene where Batman rigs up some sort of system where he can spy on everyone via their cell phones.  Morgan Freeman’s character feigns indignation about it, but ultimatly agrees to do it, because, you know, there are bad guys out there.  But only this once, surely it is okay just this once.

Civil liberties, government transparency – these are things that can not and should not be suspended or revoked at anytime for any reason.  Otherwise, where does one draw the line?  Evidently one draws the line at a psychopath in clown makeup.  When there’s one of those around civil liberties go out the window.




17 responses

24 07 2008

Well, to be fair, it’s some rich guy who’s suspending the civil rights of Gotham citizens, not a government agency, not a Supreme Court, not a President, not even a mayor. Further, Wayne is obviously tortured by the recognition of what he feels he has to become in order to beat The Joker. He enlists Fox’s character, also hesitant, giving his resignation with the acceptance, and implements a self-destruct, of sorts, that he trusts to Fox, who is completely pure in his position. And what of Gordon, who is obviously conflicted in helping Batman in any of his obviously illegal schemes. And what of Alfred, and his story of how to capture the jewel thief in the forest by burning it all to the ground? Obviously a conflicted story.

Most importantly, however… it’s a movie–a thoroughly entertaining one at that. This writeup here, what you’ve crafted, is the mirror of the right complaining about Wall-E and it’s liberal bias towards global preservation. And it’s just as ridiculous. Both are just movies.

Are we all so fragmented, now, that we refuse to just be entertained anymore?

28 07 2008
john wallace

If you really believe that movies are only movies, then you my friend are sleepwalking…

29 07 2008
Sam Durrill

There’s something else I would like to add. I am not one hundred percent on when it was in the movie or exactly what he said, but at one point he says something like, “People can die of starvation on the other side of the world and no one turns their head. We send soldiers over to their deaths and no one turns a head. You have to bring death right up in their faces for people to notice.” Like I said, it is a paraphrase and nothing more. The point is that the bad guy in the movie, the evil, points to one of the greatest american faults (a severely limited and selfish global perspective). The joker is telling a truth and by this movie’s association this truth is made into something evil. In conclusion, healthy and humane global perspective = evil or a joke from the Joker. This of course is not a direct statement but a curious, indirect, and troubling association. People have said they were disturbed/depressed by this movie’s ruthlessness and evil, I was much more disturbed by its messages. Props to you John, for making this troubling call.

29 07 2008

Messages or themes are perceived by people, and everyone sees things differently. You have brought up some good points, but I choose to see the movie’s message from a different light. I believe the movie is trying to convey the bigger message of hope and as well as the uglier side of human behaviours. The things that the Joker said weren’t all lies, and you have mentioned that he spoke of many truths. It’s not to say that the truths the joker spoke of were evil, but some truths are rather ugly… most people simply do not want to know. The joker is, in a sense, in every single one of us. We want to believe in the evilness of people at times. We want to be wronged by others in order to feel just in what we do. To show this message further, the movie used the ferry experiment to illustrate its point. The ferry experiment doesn’t simply show that people CAN be good and decent on screen, but it also shows to viewers of their internal conflicts and their preconceived notion of evil… We are the joker and we are the batman. There is no greater battle than the battle against self. Some win (batman)… and some loose (Harvey)… I love the message of the movie that I chose to see.

11 08 2008

“Fear of ignorance – The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance” that really explains it all…you see your problem is just to acknowledge good and evil both do not have a bit to do with knowledge or ignorance… good and evil is a matter of values. And i can give you also the reasoning behind it!

1. I grew up in a communist dictatorship which had a lot of knowledge of the suffering it caused, but it did not make them good…!

2. I’m completely ignorant to the reason why the dictator killed millions of my people, i guess this makes me evil…!

The day the firing squad was finished with him a had a little smile on my face, and the smile had nothing to do with knowledge or ignorance, it had something to do with right and wrong, good and evil… values is all that matters…

I may also be just wrong, my primitive values may stand in the way of knowledge.
Daniel A.

14 08 2008

I am so glad that someone else realised the TRUE message of the batman movie John. The scene where batman has all those screens and he is tracing all of the cell phones in the city to find the “terrorist” said it all.
By the way the greatest terroroist force behind 9/11 was the American government who ordered NORAD to stand down and who knew well in advance of the attack and yet did nothing. It could not have been caried out solely by a bunch of cave dwelling religious extremests as our government would want us to believe.

16 08 2010

some of the simple direct and strong messages of dark knight were:
1.if so called authority have to remove crime or criminilas ,first clean up your own system.i think rarely any “system” can claim of this,
2.a criminal is not born from a mother’s womb. there are always some reasons behind this as is clear from joker’s tortured past.
3.a criminal is also a human being and not a bug which you have to kill with a pesticide.
4.the system makes and breaks bad forces for its own profit.
5.the strongest message is perhaps probably “good and bad will always exist togather”.It is not possible to totally “uproot” evil as is planned so meticulously by Harvey dent and Jim gordon

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18 01 2012

i believe the message is that:
Put it this way, the Batman represent the force of “national police”, and the Jokers represent the “terrorist”.

Jokers represent the terrorist which has no rule and no normal pattern who could trace. As harder the force the “Batman” does have, as much abnormal behaviour the “terrorist” creates.

Remember what Alfred said “they just want to watch the world burns”.

1 05 2012
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16 08 2012

You sound stupid in this comment just saying the message is about hope its about one man being a symbol like batman is a symbol in the movie but our soldiers are a symbol in real life besaide the movies based off a comic

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