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Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

2 Comments

  1. Nagisa Furukawa
    December 20, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    To an extent, this has always been a bit of an issue with Batman, and if you going to do what Nolan did and try to tell a "realistic" version of the story, it's going to rear its ugly head. Batman is an incredibly rich philanthropist who thinks the best way to solve crime and make the world a better place is to beat up poor people. This isn't so obvious in an obviously cartoony world like the 60s Batman series or Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but the more like our world you try to make the concept, the more clear the discrepancy sticks out. This is a guy who, despite his parents' death, has been given everything in life, has the best training/weapons/gadgets money can buy, and has decided to regularly beat up people less fortunate than him (maybe some teen's own parents were killed, but without the money to go overseas, had to settle on becoming a drug dealer just to survive?).

    In continuities other than Nolan's, I buy it because he was eight years old, happiest he's ever been, just watched Zorro, BLAM! His world collapses and he thinks Zorro is how the world works. Got it. Nolan, however, brags about getting rid of Bruce's connections to any other hero or concept of heroes because it has to be 100% Bruce for some reason, so it just makes you ask, why the heck does he think this is going to in any way make a difference? It's removing symptoms, not problems. All he ever deals with are street level problems and scenarios, while ignoring the context that exacerbates this. Even "the Mob," Batman mythology's great cop-out to go "No, no, we're after rich fatcats, not poor people, honest!" is simply a product of the system that produced this kind of black market. Black markets are like distilled capitalism. Price is completely up to the people with power who can choose to distribute the producer however they want, and competition literally ends with death a good deal of the time.

    We've all seen the stock Batman fight where he takes down some drug dealers, but let's think about that for a minute. Batman is happy to stop and harm the peddlers because hey, cocaine is bad, kids! But big pharmaceutical companies make fortunes off incredibly dangerous benzodiazepines, with cold turkey withdrawal from them often causing death, but he never deals with them. Now tell me, if the situation was reversed, would Batman REALLY care what drug was being sold by where? That he'd let street level benzo dealers go, but would be after companies for selling big bad cocaine? Of course not. That right there should tell you Batman is an establishment figure, but there's more. Rob a bank, Batman comes after you. Run a bank, get your money through quasi-legal means that nevertheless rob a helluva lot more people than a bank robbery would the bank's owners, Batman doesn't say a word to you. In The Dark Knight Returns, Frank Miller tries really hard to make Batman a rebel against the establishment figure Superman, but he fails because Batman really is an establishment figure. Given that he's the fanboy god who's become pretty much synonymous with "cool," but the fact is Batman is someone who repeatedly takes care of blue-collar crime while completely ignoring white-collar crime. The fact that he's a freaking billionaire just rubs this in more.

    (Cont'd)

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  2. Nagisa Furukawa
    December 20, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    (Cont'd)

    I often hear two kind of responses to this. The first is that while that sort of crime is serious, it's not Batman's place to sort of tackle that sort of crime. Except Batman has no place at all, and if he did, it'd be there. Remember, blue-collar crime is taken care of by regular cops every single day. Murders, rape, muggings, the sort of thing that Batman is "supposed" to solve is exactly the sort of thing cops are good at solving and taking to justice. It's white-collar crime that regularly goes unpunished. Sure, the Batman mythos and Nolan's films in particular try to handwave this by making the police SO corrupt that literally nothing can be done in the city without Batman, but in any sort of "realistic" Batman setting, it should become obvious that white-collar is exactly the sort of thing a supposedly good-hearted billionaire with the resources and connections to know what kind of corruption is friends and co-workers are responsible for should be fighting against, not the common crimes that are fought against everyday. The other thing I hear is Batman's just a fictional character, blah blah blah, wouldn't be very exciting if he just fought white-collar crime. Y'know what? I agree. That's why I love the goofy Batman, the colorful one in blue-and-grey, the one who's a force for good and that's that. A superhero who goes to outer space and stops Starro? I can buy that. A serious crusader for social justice? Don't make me laugh.

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