Supporting the Oligarchy — The Dark Knight Rises

I have to admit that I probably won’t go and see the new Batman movie. Inception was a severe turn-off for me and so far I haven’t really read anything that makes me believe I wouldn’t come down on the “this was a waste of time” side.

Specifically, quite a few parallels between Bane’s uprising and the current push back against Western power elites has been drawn. And we know that Bane is the villain and Batman puts him down.

Now, as someone replied to me in the discussion about the movie on Jim Emerson’s excellent Scanners blog:

it tends to depict sudden, wrenching social upheaval as a Bad Thing, mostly because the cost of said upheaval tends top be disproportionately borne by the poor and vulnerable.

the latter part of which I’d actually agree with, it’s just that sometimes the alternative is worse.

If, however, one actively crushes the uprising, yet agrees that the issues are legitimate, one has to offer an alternative.

I went and read the plot-summary on Wikipedia and while I’ll gladly assume that it might have glossed over the fine points, I read nothing there, that supported actual solutions to the legitimate grievances the non-rich have.

What I read instead was that environmentalism is a front for evil, that the social uprising devolved into show trials, and actually places those at risk who it claimed to stand for, and that once it is crushed, things go back to the status quo.

And this is why I call it a propaganda piece, or, if you find this too heavy, an indoctrination piece: the officially endorsed alternative to radical change is change from within the system.

Yet, the last decades have shown that this change is for the benefit of the power elites, and the detriment of everyone else. And much more importantly, the last 5 years have shown that even in the face of a significant deterioration of standards of living, the needed change does NOT happen inside or come from within the system. This is what the Occupy people pointed out, that a system captured by the power elites will not change to reduce their power.

Denying this means propagating the status quo and stifling demands for change. A possible alternative could be if elements of the power elite spoke out/moved to affect change (Stiglitz, Buffet, Soros come to mind in the real world) but from what I read so far, this is not what Wayne elects to do.

So to summarize: the movie seems to send the message that radical change is bad and one should place trust in institutions to improve things. This might be in line with Batman’s world view but in today’s situation, with recent history in mind, this makes it an indoctrination device (and forgoes the opportunity to place Batman at odds with the power structure which would have made for a more interesting story, in my opinion).

It does, however, align Nolan very nicely with Frank Miller’s world view.

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