Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Dark Knight

Apparently I was one of the few people on earth who did not see this movie until it just came out on DVD. I found it fascinating and troubling. One especially thoughtful review I found was "Batman's War on Terror" by Benjamin Kerstein writing in Azure. Read it all, but for a taste, this is its remarkable conclusion:
In this sense, The Dark Knight is a perfect mirror of the society which is watching it: a society so divided on the issues of terror and how to fight it that, for the first time in decades, an American mainstream no longer exists. Perhaps this is why the film has struck such a responsive chord with audiences: The ambivalence it expresses is the same ambivalence with which most Americans—consciously or unconsciously—regard their current predicament. Americans want to defeat terrorism, but they want to defeat it without upsetting the basic ideals of a free society. They want terror to be fought by any means necessary, but without any of the attendant horrors and compromises of war. And The Dark Knight may well be correct in positing that the only possible resolution of such a dilemma is not to resolve it at all, but to live in a society based, in some manner, on a lie. Because society, in order to be society, needs the lie. It is a noble lie, perhaps, but a lie all the same. The alternative, the film seems to say, is to become a society of Harvey Dents or, worse still, Jokers. It is, ironically, not a particularly happy or optimistic message, but it is one which a great many Americans appear ready, and even strangely gratified, to hear.

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