The Dark Knight Propagandizes

I see the first big trailer for the next installment of Nolan’s Batman franchise has been leaked.  It looks consistent with the previous films.

Remember in Batman Begins, the League of Shadows claim to have caused the recession that crippled Gotham when Bruce was a kid. So recessions happen not because capitalism is inherently prone to them but because nefarious Europeans and Orientals come over from outside and artificially create them.

Of course, recessions are something that happens to capitalism, not something that capitalism can’t help itself causing… we know this because Bruce’s Dad is a noble, wise, kindly man who happens to be hugely wealthy and own a massive mega corporation, so wealth and corporations must be just fine and dandy per se. Papa Wayne has even helped the city… by building a massive elevated train system. Hmmm, that’ll help the people who can’t afford tickets (or homes) anymore. And naturally it was all done at his expense and he made no profit… something that is even less likely in reality than flying bat-costumed ninjas.

Sure enough, we later learn that corporations are only bad when run by unscrupulous individuals like Rutger Hauer (in probably the single most irrelevant film role in cinema history) who wants to take the company public and manufacture weapons… and all that icky stuff that nice capitalists never do ‘cos they’re just so socially responsible and unconcerned with profits.

The victims of the recession that get most screentime and sympathy are, natch, Bruce’s wise and noble Dad and his silent blonde Mum, ie the rich people who are the victims of the filthy poor.

In the next film, we learn that it’s necessary to take extreme measures that might (briefly) offend principled liberals like Lucius Fox, in order to defeat the unreasoningly hostile terrorists who just wanna watch the world burn and hate us because of our freedom, etc. So that lets President Bush off the hook, don’t it? When faced with insane and wanton aggression from terroristic nihilists, what can the responsible people do but take the law into their own hands, torture people for information, spy on the populace, peddle propaganda to keep the sheep feeling hopeful? The guy with the strength to do what has to be done will find himself morally compromised and unpopular, but he’s doing it all for the greater good, shouldering the burden for the weak and squeamish. 

Of course, the public hero who will inspire the people, Harvey Dent, is not averse to abducting suspects and threatening them with guns… but he’s still a noble, heroic white knight… and when the villainy of al Qaeda… sorry, I meant the Joker… drags him down, this fact must be concealed from the plebs for their own good.

If Batman Begins is pure neoliberal propaganda, Dark Knight is pure neo-Conservative propaganda. By the trailer, Dark Knight Rises – in which Selina Kyle taunts Wayne at a party about how his lot have “lived so large that there was so little left for the rest of us” and then cuts to Bane leading what seems like a revolt of the unwashed – looks set to be the film equivalent of Fox News commenting on Occupy Wall St.…

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