Our old friend Andrew Klavan (see here) has emerged from the cineplex with a trembling sense of awe; he has stumbled to his knees, cast his moist, yearning eyes heavenward, and seen a revelation glowing from the underbelly of the sky…
A cry for help goes out from a city beleaguered by violence and fear: A beam of light flashed into the night sky, the dark symbol of a bat projected onto the surface of the racing clouds . . .Oh, wait a minute. That’s not a bat, actually. In fact, when you trace the outline with your finger, it looks kind of like . . . a “W.”
Yes, Andrew has jumped on the meme-wagon and joined other conservative cineastes in declaring that George W. Bush is Super-President!
There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war.
Well, there’s no question as long as the movie remains popular. If it had debuted to the kind of notices and box office that, say, Batman and Robin did, I doubt the Conservateriate would be hugging it to their bodies and screaming, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” like Daffy Duck hoarding a mound of jewels in Ali Baba Bunny.
Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.
Of course, if you can make an emergency last long enough (did that Terrorist Color Swatch Chart ever drop below fuchsia?) then blown boundaries become the norm and you don’t have to restore squat. And unlike W, at least The Batman lost a little sleep over using the Constitution as a mud-butler.
And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.
Or you can split the difference and drop the “free” part, then everybody can knock off early and meet for Long Island Iced Teas and Double-Stuffed Potato Skins at Bennigan’s. We can just Fed-Ex the rest of your civil rights to Hell in the morning…I’ll leave a note on Jerri’s desk.
“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.
Maybe they should fire Dana Perino and hire Frank Miller. Forget press conferences, and just issue all Presidential statements in comic book form. I mean, they’re already halfway there; just install a fireman’s pole, a super-computer, and a giant penny in Cheney’s Secure Undisclosed Location, and you’ve got instant Bat Cave. Get someone from DC or Marvel to design uniforms — we already know Bush enjoys dressing up in costumes — and get David Frum working on a catchphrase. Not only would this finally restore a bit of honor and dignity to the White House, it would be revenue-neutral, since all costs could be defrayed by merchandising deals and cross-promotional tie-ins with Burger King.
Conversely, time after time, left-wing films about the war on terror — films like “In The Valley of Elah,” “Rendition” and “Redacted” — which preach moral equivalence and advocate surrender, that disrespect the military and their mission, that seem unable to distinguish the difference between America and Islamo-fascism, have bombed more spectacularly than Operation Shock and Awe.Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense — values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right — only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like “300,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Narnia,” “Spiderman 3″ and now “The Dark Knight”?
Wow. This takes the art of the rhetorical question to a whole new level, doesn’t it?
When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve.
Well, we railroad obscure, powerless underlings while insulating management from accountability, but sure, I get your point.
As Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, “He has to run away — because we have to chase him.”That’s real moral complexity.
And real fruit flavor!
And when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised — then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.
Perhaps that’s when Hollywood conservatives will be able to take off their masks and speak plainly in the light of day.
Hell, I’d be satisfied if they’d just start by taking off the two wetsuits and pulling the dildoes out of their ass. At least during business hours.
So I guess the lesson is, conservatives aren’t biologically capable of producing good, popular movies, but they’re certainly eager to adopt them as their own. Which I guess makes them the moral equivalent of a married gay couple with a nesting instinct.
President Bush in the upcoming summer blockbuster, Super President vs. The G-8!