movie franchise devotes itself to an ideal

For Batman Begins, Warners executives wanted a very 'dark' movie and were hoping for the director of Fight Club [violence against people you know as a way of finding oneself] and Panic Room [everybody's home is in mortal danger]. They got the Memento director instead.

The movie has since been made. A trailer and promotional posters [Fark mocking] have been released. It will open next year.

the promotional materials

To my eyes, the trailer is straight fascism. Following the lead of the Nazis, it promotes the icon of a man with his shirt off, who is 'devoting himself to an ideal', involving a vindictive and insane version of law & order.

I wasn't sure until I saw this secondary promotional poster [compare Nazi eagle].

I guess that's what 'dark' means now to some in Hollywood: sociopathic isolation faux-redeemed by violence. In this movie the symbol is a dark predatory bird gleaming like metal.

He can't be a family man

Over the years many people have joked that Batman must be gay1 because of his bachelor status, and -in the tv version- Robin as the 'boy-wonder'. The simpering butler has been mentioned in this regard (whether these matched any actual gay lifestyle or not).

But that is not it - Batman cannot be a lover of women becuse his victimhood is essential to the fantasy. And real men are iconically not victims.

Everyone know knows it isn't really like Batman to be intimate. For him to be a well-adjusted family man would ruin everything! If Bruce Wayne takes a woman (in the movies) it's incidental.2

the mask

Authoritarian ideology demands submission. And submission lies in the subtext of the Batman story. This morphs into two forms at the surface.

  • The reversed form is the hero's vigilantism. People who have a negative attribute enjoy fantasizing they are the opposite. eg: People who have submitted politically will identify with fiercely-independent movie characters.

  • The non-reversed form is there as Batman's black mask. That's the way the unconscious works - the undesirable appears on the surface only symbolically.

In the archetype sex slaves wear black masks. Thematically Batman is the Gimp from Pulp Fiction - here with a mansion, a manservant and the ability to avenge his degradation.

At the surface Batman has anger and an urge to violence. The story's explanation3 is so artificial it has never been internalized by fans. The real explanation is unconscious: that Bruce Wayne fans have submitted (are in political bondage) and Batman is their compensation fantasy.

the political spectrum has to be mentioned

The standard Batman plot has class-war written all over it in ghost lettering. The born-millionaire gets to beat up much poorer people as a hobby. They are the thieves, even though he has never worked a day in his life and he lives in a mansion.

A secondary effect of creating a broad archetype that deals falsely with class issues like Batman does is to misdirect any potential anger at people at the top of the economic ladder.

These class-war details are not contradictory to fascist ideology - the rich Italians who began the movement in the 1930's felt themselves victims (as a bunch of Bruce Wayne's).


It is possible to make a great, popular and fascist movie (Dirty Harry and Straw Dogs are the two I can think of). Warners might have got there with Fincher as director. I imagine with Nolan instead, their über-dream wont be realized, and next summer the movie will only gross $200 million.

sarcasm: But not to worry, somebody someday will manage to convincingly dramatize the origins of lawless violence by the idle rich, and to justify it.

  1. the pop confusion about Batman as gay (vs being a repressed bondage freak) parallels the confusion inside the mind of the rw pundit/nutcase TMW profiled a couple of weeks ago. The Nazis' submission to political ideology deformed their personalities (even making some sexual perverts). Gays are not perverted. About Kinsey I have no idea.

  2. There may even be an Oedipal subtext, the muggers that killed his mother stole his chance to be a family man

  3. that his parents were killed by muggers


the West does not have a death-wish exactly

Artificially dated - this blog did not exist back then.
This has been copied here in revised form.

Three days ago, Frank Rich in the NYTimes made the case that the USA has a death-wish.

What Western society has is a breath death-wish. They have this because they are both a settler culture, and also a (repressed) warrior culture. Something of a contradiction.

The breath-death-wish is the West's answer to the question: 'what is the relation between two of us?' It is the urge that no-one breathe in a way to produce a third-eye (or that no-one breathe in conflict with their born primate status).

The West accomplishes this partly with ... the birthday party.
[It has done so since the maturity of the Industrial Revolution].

The defining moment is when the individual blows out his own candles.

The unconscious knows of the breath's contingent relation to memory. It understands that the animal literally can choose which of its own memories to send more of the body's resources to.

Only when the child extinguishes these symbols of his own potential enlightenment does he get a) his true, secret wish and b) the sweet cake and ice cream.

the affinity for black

The unconscious breath-death-wish is so significant it appears on the surface of society in many ways. It often appears as an affinity for blackness or death-symbols.

The black in these cases means multiple things:

  • The person is mourning the childhood death of their own enlightenment (and their participation in it)
  • the person wants no-one else to be enlightened, so unerringly they wish to 'kill' a certain type breathing by other people (this is the breath-death-wish)
This (primate) contradiction makes it confusing, makes it difficult to parse the symbols. Not seeing deeply enough, some conclude that Western culture has a death-wish, even though it is something else.

[Frank Rich's column arguing the USA culture as a death-wish discussed the Terri Schiavo phenomenon and the death of the Pope]

Ultimately some people who have profoundly internalized this ceremony and crippled their own memories accordingly see on TV a woman they never met in a coma (but blinking her eyes), or they see a passed-on religious figure in white (who they normally could figure out was an ass****), and project their own loss onto that person, and mourn.


'hell' taken from cartoon pasta

Artificially dated - this blog did not exist back then.
This has been copied here in revised form.

The New Yorker magazine has removed 'hell' from a caption on a classic cartoon.* It stars pasta.

[I have since lost my copy of the cartoon. It might have been Barsotti's, picturing a piece of Ziti(?) answering a phone. If this was the one, then the caption originally would have been "Fusilli, you crazy bastard! How the hell are you?"]

Perhaps it's funnier without the cursing. Or perhaps the editors think 'hell' is fading from use.

Or maybe something more subtle is happening.

going back aways

I associate the word 'hell' with the Victorians (roughly: 19th-century England). So I checked out John Fowles' The French Lieutentant's Woman.

Yes, a novel, but word-searchable on Amazon.com.

Within seconds I find that the book contains the word 'heaven' 30 times (in the dialog, mostly) and the word 'hell' only 2 times.

In this quote, Fowles describes a Victorian woman who thinks a lot about hell (but he doesn't have her say the word):
"There would have been a place in the Gestapo for the lady; she had a way of interrogation that would reduce the sturdiest girl to tears in the first five minutes ... Yet among her own class ... she was renowned for her charity ... it had to do with the great secret of Mrs. Poulteney's life. It was a very simple secret. She believed in hell. ... As she lay in her bedroom she reflected on the terrible mathematical doubt that increasingly haunted her: whether the Lord calculated charity by what one had given, or by what one could have afforded to give"

1970s anecdote
Once I was a witness as someone accidently dropped something and then angrily spelled out the curse: "H-E-doublehockeysticks!". He felt -I guess- that if he said the word he might end up at the place.

back to the present
What does this all mean? ..Heck if I know.