Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dark Knight (2008) - Revisited

SPOILER WARNING!!! This Post spoils movie The Dark Knight.

I am not that much of a Batman fan as all these Batman posts seem to show. You can thank Dan Carlin ( for this post. He said in his Common Sense podcast that americans see themselves as Superman while rest of the world sees them as Batman and The Dark Knight is best Batman movie, because it was done by non-americans. That made me think about this movie from different perspective. You could say this post is about The Dark Knight through Dan Carlin lenses. This is what The Dark Knight looks like when considering themes Dan Carlin talks about in his podcasts.

Dan Carlin is podcaster who has two podcasts, Common Sense with Dan Carlin and Dan Carlin's Hardcore HIstory. Hardcore History is better known of these two. It has long audio book like episodes. Podcast is worth checking if you like history. Other podcast Common Sense with Dan Carlin is almost weekly look into US politics. Common Sense sounds like conspiracy theorist rants at first, but when you listen more about them and know the other podcast, you see that Dan Carlin is more into something that your average conspiracy theorist nut.

I always had problem with Alfred saying that Batman caused Joker. When I changed into this point of view it made more sense. That is why I revisit The Dark Knight this time.

You can see Batman as US authorities. Lucious Fox as politicians, who give authorities more power to fight terrorism and criminals as countries, who suffer from US politics. Fox gives Batman system that can use mobile phones to spy area around them. This was given that Batman could get Lau from Hong Kong. Later Batman uses same system to spy the whole Gotham City. Every place in Gotham City. Batman had taken something that was given him to do single thing and made it much bigger and using it to do something totally different. Fox wasn't pleased about that. Doesn't it sound lot like what has happened after Snowden leaked what NSA is actually doing. Something that Carlin has talked many times. When you give authorities power to do something, they later use that power for something different that it wasn't originally intended.

Next we should think Joker as terrorist and criminals as countries who fund terrorists. Alfred said Batman hammered criminals so hard that they turned to man they didn't fully understand. This makes more sense if you think criminals as countries who can't fight against US in conventional war, but want to attack US. They turn to terrorists, who can fight unconventional ways. Terrorists can also turn against them and replace them. As has happened some extent in real world with political wings of terrorist organisations. Joker tells criminal bosses that he want to get rid of Batman. To Batman he tells that he doesn't want to kill Batman, because Batman completes him. In real world terrorist organisations get most support when there is enemy to fight against. People tend to turn against terrorist organisations when this enemy disappears. Joker may know that and that is why he needs Batman.

From this point of view ending shows how long you have to go to fight terrorism, if you want to fight them with brute force. Batman had to build spying machine that spied every citizen of Gotman City. This wasn't intended by movie makers, because they offer more power to authorities as solution for crime problem. Dan Carlin has talked how futile current war on terror is and there should be different solution for terror problem. I guess those other solutions couldn't work in this movie, because negotiating and working with criminals wouldn't have worked in movie's context. In real world it is not that black and white.

I can easily see Batman as US authorities. He has tunnel vision. He goes for his goal without thinking what effects his actions could have. He is ready to sacrifice everyone's privacy to get Joker. We have seen that US authorities could do the same. Seen this way movie shows terrorists something you can never understand. As someone who just want destruction. When in real world it is more complicated issue. They are not some men, who just want to see the world burn. They have other, more sophisticated motivations.

This point of view doesn't explain why Joker want to show people of Gotham are as rotten as he is. It also doesn't give any more light to Two-Face storyline. Two-Face becomes terrorist because he was victim of terrorist attack. Dent was himself fighting against terrorists. It is hard to believe he would see his former team mates as reason for terrorism. If he had been neutral before changing, it could have been possible. But it had required some explanation.

Dan probably meant that we non-american see USA as shadowy figure, whose methods we don't always accept, but which goals are usually good. Movie wasn't meant to be taken like this. Here I view it through events that happened after the movie was made. But doesn't that make The Dark Knight better movie. You could argue it saw thing happening before they happened. This point of view explains some aspects of the movie, but doesn't work that well on whole movie. Movie is still better seen as Batman movie, but if you want to think some themes deeper, this point of view gives you something to think about.

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