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Review: The Dark Knight

By anaesthetica in Culture
Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 09:52:48 AM EST
Tags: Batman, The Dark Knight, Class, Class War, Oppression, Movies, Culture, Propaganda, Racism, War on Terror (all tags)
Movies

It is little wonder that The Dark Knight has done so well in modern America, generating huge returns for its investors, and spurring talk even before its release of potential Academy Awards. This is not because the 'dark' setting and overt themes of the film have any legitimate resonance with the zeitgeist. No, the film's subtext strikes a chord with the deep-seated convictions of the mainstream American public and with the interests of Hollywood investors.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]


Bruce Wayne is Gotham's richest man. A wealthy industrialist, one living off of government defense contracting, multinational mergers and acquisitions, and all the other concomitant returns to being a large capital holder. He's a 'playboy,' using women as sexual objects: using the ballerina to make Dawes jealous at dinner with Dent, using the entire ballet troupe as decoys for his escapade in Hong Kong, using three models as props for his appearance at the fundraiser dinner, and using Dawes herself, implicitly, as bait in his contest with the Joker. The Bruce Wayne character is irresponsible, destructive, wasteful—a natural extension of Bale's role as Patrick Bateman: the apotheosis of consumerism and finance capital in American Psycho—and yet the audience is compelled by the film's presentation to celebrate him. Nevertheless the brutality of his role, not simply as the Batman, but as the capitalist himself is revealed by his assistant:

Lucius Fox: Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck.

Lucius Fox, the Uncle Tom figure, legitimates, along with Alfred, the institution of slavery. Both are happy to serve, even though their disposable position is indicated to each by Wayne. The mass surveillance technology (a clear reference to current NSA wiretapping of U.S. citizens, as well as the long running Echelon program) is invented by Fox in the film. When Wayne sets up the illegal sonar surveillance system, he leaves it to Fox with Fox's own name as the 'self-destruct' code, effectively placing responsibility on his dependent, rather than assuming responsibility and therefore liability for his own creation. Likewise, before attending the press conference with Harvey Dent, wherein Wayne would watch with satisfaction as Dent unjustly takes the fall for Wayne's vigilantism, Wayne tells Alfred 'jokingly' that he might simply pin the entire Batman scheme on him. While presented as a joke, the context of the structural role of master-slave makes it clear to the analyst that such an action is by no means out of bounds.

Wayne uses his position as an Anglo-Saxon capitalist to marshal vast resources to develop military grade technology and materiel in the 'fight' against the 'gangs' in Gotham. Missiles, grenades, various projectiles, military or special-forces transportation methods (Fox borrows ideas from the CIA's assassination squads quite overtly, i.e. "Skyhook"), mass surveillance, and old-fashioned brutality are Wayne's stock-in-trade. All the while, he obfuscates his identity as the "Batman" in order to protect his position as capitalist, and to avoid public responsibility for his extra-legal violence. Of course, the actual Gotham police have no intention of arresting Batman for vigilante savagery, despite public acrimony over the rule of law.

Batman's existence and actions are all justified to the audience by the usual scare-tactics of 'security' and 'law and order.' But by simply analyzing the depiction of the 'gangs' of Gotham, we can see the actual message of The Dark Knight. The gangs do not represent criminal enterprises so much as they represent minority races: Chinese, Russians, African-Americans, and Italians. As anyone familiar with the history of so-called 'organized crime' in the United States well knows, ethnic minorities such as the Italian and Irish-American communities faced oppression, economic exclusion, and police brutality from the dominant Anglo-Saxon majority. The formation of organizations serving to protect the community and seek its interests in the face of racism from the Anglo-Saxon capitalists led to the characterization of these groups as 'organized crime.' Rather than being legitimate responses to organized violence from the dominant classes, 'organized crime' once labeled and accepted as illegitimate in mainstream discourse could be fought with the full force of state power. The Dark Knight serves to perpetuate the identification of crime with minorities and to justify the use of both state terror and vigilante violence against subaltern groups.

Gotham's White Knight, Harvey Dent, is a tall Anglo-Saxon blond crusader against the minorities, using the administrative and legal power of the state apparatus to engage in large-scale barratry against the lower classes. That director Christopher Nolan chose Aaron Eckhart (it would hardly do to let Billy Dee Williams reprise his role) for his "subtextual edge" is all the more revealing, considering Eckhart's prior role in the pro-corruption, pro-big business, faux satire Thank You For Smoking. Dent is initially constrained in his actions by needing to consider public opinion in future elections. Of course, Wayne, representing the power of capital, organizes a fund-raising party with his white trust-fund friends in order to buy Dent for Gotham, insulating him from public accountability through an unmatchable war chest for the now-incumbent. It could not be clearer how the movie brings the audience over to the side of the rich buying the law in order to oppress the weak.

Finally, the Joker. He and his actions are referred to, in several places, as "terrorist." In the post-9/11 environment, the message that the viewers are supposed to receive could not be clearer. Whereas Robert Pape has convincingly demonstrated that so-called 'terrorist insurgencies' are rational, political responses to occupation by democratic imperialist nations (see: Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism), Nolan's The Dark Knight uses the Joker to equate terrorism with irrationality, insanity, and purposelessness. The U.S. media has consistently ignored, downplayed, or cast doubt upon the political interests and objectives of the groups utilizing 'terrorist' tactics, and the Joker represents another salvo of propaganda attempting to de-politicize 'terrorists,' such that the claim that "they hate our freedoms" can prevail over actual substantive foreign policy issues of contention.

The Joker: Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don't have a plan. ... You see, nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If I told people that a gangbanger was going to get shot, or a busload of soldiers was going to get blown up, nobody would panic. Because it's all part of the plan. But tell people that one tiny little mayor is going to die and everyone loses their minds!
['War on Terror' emphasis added]

It's not the inherent corruption of having broad and unchecked powers that tears Harvey Dent down to Two-Face, but the 'terrorist' the Joker that does so. Oppression of minorities is normal, routine, even celebrated, whereas his "good-guy-gone-bad" narrative (rationalizing his murderous hateful behavior) is brought on only by terrorism. The defense of Bush administration war crime 'slip-ups' is inherent in the blaming terrorism rather than intoxication with power in the narrative of Harvey Dent to Two-Face.

The Joker: I took Gotham's white knight, and brought him down to our level.

Consideration of the Joker's "social experiment" with the two explosive-rigged ships provides further insight into the racial dynamics presented to the filmgoers. The classic prisoner's dilemma is presented here, but notice the roles provided for the audience to identify with: the mostly white 'normal' citizens on one boat vote overwhelmingly to destroy the other boat of prisoners; the mostly minority boat instead dispenses with their detonator, turning instead to prayer and passive acceptance of what they perceive to be inevitable death at the hands of the white citizens (i.e. religion as opiate).

Finally, the blatant equation of homosexuality with terrorism could not be more obvious in the casting of Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger as the Joker. Given the homosexual themes rife within the Batman & Robin dynamic, and the derision that both Nolan and Bale treat the idea of Robin making an appearance in the rebooted ultra-masculine Batman series, one might consider the homosexualizing of the villain in terms of 'projection.' That is, that aspect that unnerves both the director and the leading man about the hero of the film series has been projected into the subtext of the Joker's portrayal (following the Jungian sense of the shadow archetype).

The movie ends, of course, with the police cover-up of Dent's war crimes and the diversionary, designed-to-fail pursuit of Batman—the pair's 'white collar' crimes will never see lustration much less prosecution. The Bat-Signal is destroyed in an act of theater act covering up the entanglement and complicity of the state in extra-legal vigilantism.

Let's review:

  • Capitalist hero using military-scale violence against minorities
  • Treating women as objects justified
  • Slavery legitimized
  • Mass surveillance justified
  • Equation of minorities with criminals
  • Law serves the rich, white
  • Terrorism reduced to apolitical, irrational
  • War crimes in fight against terrorism portrayed as tragic, excused
  • Religious legitimation for execution of minority criminals
  • Police cover-up protects public from inconvenient truths about the violence inherent in the system and the lies upon which their 'heroes' are constructed

No wonder The Dark Knight has broken record after record in today's America. It celebrates a system of white, capitalist dominance, minority oppression, and the legitimate militarization of society against 'insane' terrorists. What could give greater comfort to the 'silent majority?' What could return greater profits to the capitalist investors into The Dark Knight?

Let us be clear then on what The Dark Knight is. It is not just an entertaining, albeit dark, story presented with high production value and as much gritty realism as a comic-book movie can sustain. It is also part of the ongoing cultural production and reproduction of the structural imperatives of the capitalist system—a system that relies (despite the exhortations of Adam Smith) upon monopolizing finance capital, subjecting the power of the state to capital, the creation of criminal classes out of any minority group that can be ascriptively labeled, the reproduction of internal racial inequality on an international level, and the legitimation of violence in keeping the lower classes divided, subservient, and 'irrational.' The proffering of The Dark Knight as a propaganda piece need not even be conscious on the part of Nolan or intentional on that part of the movie's investors. Their roles are structurally determined by the ideas that constitute mainstream discourse: our prevailing conceptual categories determine how we think about social order and what images, arguments, and interpretations stand out as salient. The Dark Knight produces in its viewers the spontaneous consent that sustains the prevailing order. Make no mistake, this is not an argument of 'false consciousness,' because the people are not being misled—the facts are plain to see, but presented in a way the legitimizes them, providing security of identity to individual Americans fearful of an escape to freedom.

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Poll
Social Democrat
o just got beaten at own game. 40%
o will probably just post another lame diary about Obama being a neocon. 53%
o will do a rival class analysis of "Step Brothers" real soon now. 53%
o could conceivably be serious (i.e. an idiot) and not just a highly consistent, long-running troll. 46%

Votes: 15
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o The Dark Knight
o potential Academy Awards
o Bruce Wayne
o Patrick Bateman
o American Psycho
o Lucius Fox
o Uncle Tom
o Alfred
o NSA wiretapping
o Echelon
o master-sla ve
o CIA's assassination
o Skyhook
o Italian
o Irish-Amer ican
o Harvey Dent
o Aaron Eckhart
o Billy Dee Williams
o Thank You For Smoking
o Joker
o Robert Pape
o Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism
o hate our freedoms
o Two-Face
o good-guy-g one-bad
o prisoner's dilemma
o religion as opiate
o homosexual ity with terrorism
o Brokeback Mountain
o Heath Ledger
o homosexual
o themes
o rife
o Robin making an appearance
o projection
o shadow archetype
o broken record after record
o silent majority
o Adam Smith
o irrational
o conceptual categories determine how we think about social order
o spontaneou s consent
o false consciousness
o security of identity
o escape to freedom
o Also by anaesthetica


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Review: The Dark Knight | 99 comments (72 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
i see it more as a metaphore (none / 0) (#3)
by balsamic vinigga on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 04:03:33 PM EST

for modern internet trolling. the joker's social experiments, not having a plan.. just irrational shit stirring, is similar to internet trolls, like klerck who would take modern movies and post idiotic interpretations that he thought would piss people off...  He of course eventually killed himself, which isn't surprising given how he chose to spend his free time.. who would like to live like that?

---
Please help fund a Filipino Horror Movie. It's been in limbo since 2007 due to lack of funding. Please donate today!
Recent NYTimes trolling coverage (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 04:22:10 PM EST

Your comment seems evocative of the most recent NYTimes foray into the world of online trolling. They profile one "troll" named Weev:
Weev told me about his day -- he'd lost $10,000 on the commodities market, he claimed -- and summarized his philosophy of "global ruin." "We are headed for a Malthusian crisis," he said, with professorial confidence. "Plankton levels are dropping. Bees are dying. There are tortilla riots in Mexico, the highest wheat prices in 30-odd years." He paused. "The question we have to answer is: How do we kill four of the world's six billion people in the most just way possible?" He seemed excited to have said this aloud.

The parallels to the Joker seem obvious.

Nevertheless, trumping up the thread from socially retarded basement dwellers, when the NYTimes could be covering the massive, worldwide, organized, military-capital violence, seems diversionary at best.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
We cannot cite this article enough (none / 1) (#10)
by khallow on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 08:24:28 PM EST

And amazingly enough your post reminds me of this NYT article which happens to be your NYTimes article. And of course related to itself since all equivalence relations are reflexive. We really need to cite this article.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Wait, what? [nt] (none / 0) (#15)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 01:11:05 AM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
It's well known by now (none / 0) (#19)
by khallow on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 05:12:05 AM EST

There's been at least two diaries about it and a slashdot story. The rest was just reckless abuse.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Recent NYTimes online abuse coverage (none / 1) (#24)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 01:43:52 PM EST

Your comment seems evocative of the most recent NYTimes foray into the world of online abuse. They profile one griefer named Jason Fortuny:
I asked whether [crapflooding online forums with a certain NYTimes article] hurt people. "I'm not going to sit here and say, `Oh, God, please forgive me!' so someone can feel better," Fortuny said, his calm voice momentarily rising. The cat lay purring in his lap. "Am I the bad guy? Am I the big horrible person who shattered someone's life with some information? No! This is life. Welcome to life. Everyone goes through it. I've been through horrible stuff, too."

"Like what?" I asked. Sexual abuse, Fortuny said. When Jason was 5, he said, he was molested by his grandfather and three other relatives. Jason's mother later told me, too, that he was molested by his grandfather. The last she heard from Jason was a letter telling her to kill herself.

So, not just reckless abuse, khallow, but also sexual abuse. Online reaction mirrors real-life action—ideational follows sexual. The Freudian link seems obvious.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
The "land of opportunity" delusion. (2.00 / 2) (#7)
by sudogeek on Sun Aug 03, 2008 at 06:02:43 PM EST

Many Americans still think that they live in the land of opportunity where if they just work harder and longer and toe the line that they, too, can become rich capitalist. Horatio Alger was a fictional character, guys, just like Howard Roark and John Galt. Gothamites cheer the Batman and obscenely rich Bruce Wayne, just as large swaths of the US citizenry avidly devour People magazine and E! TV. Most Americans see themselves as Bruce Wayne, or maybe Jack Welch, if they only keep working, don't make waves, and catch a break. They don't care about surveillance or loss of their rights. If you're not doing anything wrong, why object to phone tapping, NSA internet surveillance, or the proliferation of cameras on practically every new stoplight? It's all to keep us safe!

Work hard, you wage slaves! You too can have a big house, a big car, and vacation in Hollywood! (provided you don't get laid off). You too can retire to Florida (if you hit the Lotto).

You're an arrogant, condescending, ignorant dipshit. - trhurler

the truth is the inverse of what you say (none / 0) (#68)
by circletimessquare on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 11:57:36 AM EST

the usa is not special because it is a land of opportunity, the whole world is actually a land of opportunity, so the usa is no special for it

go to any country, anywhere, in any time period. in that place and time you will find people from humble beginnings who became incredibly rich or powerful simply through perseverence and hard work

so you lose on tow counts:

  1. that you think the usa is special, in any good or bad way
  2. that you fail to see opportunity through hard work is a real and valid phenomenon of your world. and it is ennobling, and it works


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
There may be more opportunity elsewhere. (none / 0) (#70)
by sudogeek on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 07:53:19 PM EST

My point is that I think the economic and political structure of the US is much more ossified. It is not a land of unlimited opportunity.

So, yes, the US is special in that the government, national media, conservatives, and many people tout the hypocritical view that the US is a place where there are exceptional opportunities to get ahead without connections and money - while they know better.

Hard work and perseverance pay off, but it's not isolated to the US. Indeed, it may be harder to get ahead in the US than in a less developed or rapidly developing country. Just look at the rate of creation of millionaires in China, India, and Brazil.

You're an arrogant, condescending, ignorant dipshit. - trhurler
[ Parent ]

Ossification or grass-is-greener? (none / 0) (#71)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 09:44:39 PM EST

It is not a land of unlimited opportunity.

But this is a strawman argument. There is no such place, and positing "unlimited opportunity" can only serve as an ideal-type for heuristic purposes or a teleological point against which progress can be measured.

Whether or not the "government, national media, conservatives, and many people" are being hypocritical depends not on whether the U.S. is, in absolute terms, a land of unlimited opportunity, but whether in relative terms it has more opportunity than other nations and whether its overall trend is toward great opportunity (or at the very least not a regression in opportunity).

Just look at the rate of creation of millionaires in China, India, and Brazil.

While I agree with your point that hard work and perseverance are not isolated to the U.S., I disagree with your use of millionaire creation as a relevant measurement variable. In fact, that kind of measurement variable is something that those bogeymen you criticize—government, national media, conservatives—would trumpet as a sign of success, without including the relevant context. Millionaire creation, for instance, does not take into account wealth/income inequality, nor is it normalized for population/GDP growth. In fact, millionaire creation could hide broader signs of economic inopportunity through excessive concentration of wealth or lackluster growth of real GDP per capita.

Economic opportunity is better measured not by outcome but by a priori factors, such as: the availability of resources/capital goods/education on a non-discriminatory basis; the lack of prior restraint in engaging in economic activity; the lack of confiscatory policies; low statutory, regulatory, or cultural barriers to market entry; lack of statutory or cultural barriers to individual rise in social class; and, absence of violent/coercive power (public or private) in the activities of the market.

When assessed in terms of these factors, the United States generally comes out pretty favorably. Whether people take advantage of the structural lack of constraints and the availability of resources is another matter—although the rise and fall of families certainly cannot be excluded from any assessment. Moreover, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to have full purchase on all the aspects of economic opportunity—Democrats seem to emphasize some of those factors, while Republicans emphasize others—neither party has a monopoly on virtue (or corruption for that matter).

That said, I agree that the political structures evidence far more ossification than is healthy, especially in terms of incumbent advantage, the two-party stranglehold on politics, and the declining number of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
The biggest crime of the Dark Knight (3.00 / 2) (#25)
by United Fools on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 01:45:04 PM EST

is to treat the common people as fools.

Wait. Aren't the people fools?


We are united, we are fools, and we are America!

SPOILER (3.00 / 2) (#67)
by circletimessquare on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 11:54:04 AM EST

i thought that was the whole point of the stanley milgram social experiment scene: the bomb detonators on two different ferries. talk about reading too much game theory

the joker sold the common man short, and the common man turned out to be more decent than the joker thought

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

+1FP (none / 1) (#29)
by debillitatus on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 06:31:39 PM EST

An excellent satire.

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!

Thanks. ~nt (none / 0) (#47)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:55:06 PM EST


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
God, I'm so sick of hearing about this (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by Hiphopopotamus on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 07:28:08 PM EST

IT'S A FUCKIN KID'S MOVIE
_________________

I'm In LOVE!

i blame japan (none / 0) (#66)
by circletimessquare on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 11:52:24 AM EST

and their culture of the cute

so called adults are collecting dolls nowadays

even comic con and tha weird dress up called cosplay is getting more mainstream play nowadays

accept it: comic books and their stories are mainstream mythology


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

can't vote for this many wikipedia links, sorry (none / 0) (#31)
by lonelyhobo on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 08:16:10 PM EST

but the parts i read seemed pretty good

Disappointing (none / 0) (#48)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:56:36 PM EST

I bet you didn't even read through far enough to get to the wikilink to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Should have been a give-away right there.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Doesn't really take it far enough for me (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by livus on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 08:33:49 PM EST

That last paragraph is ideally where your "analysis" should start. That way you could draw 'structural' parallels between Batman and, say, Jack Bauer from 24 or even Donald Rumsfeld.

Also you should talk about how the movie "recouperates" the "subversive" ideas put forward in Miller's version.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

Write the follow-up (none / 1) (#33)
by anaesthetica on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 08:49:52 PM EST

I don't watch 24 and I've not read Miller's treatment. I'd love to see where you can extend this.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
I don't watch 24 either, perish the thought. (none / 0) (#34)
by livus on Mon Aug 04, 2008 at 09:21:13 PM EST

And DK/DK2 was the only thing Frank Miller ever did that I really liked.
I suppose you'd probably bring in The Watchmen and the film version of V for Vendetta and that way you could work the chans versus scientology into the article somehow.  

Trouble is, I haven't actually gotten around to seeing the movie yet.  

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

+1 fp, fucking hilarious (2.00 / 2) (#35)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 12:47:41 AM EST

i heard this meme before: "the dark knight is neocon propaganda!" but never so well fleshed out before as here

it's only a MOVIE

but what can you do? you are dealing with people like the author who think the real world is a cartoon movie plot anyways ;-P


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

omg wha (none / 0) (#39)
by d0ink on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:36:13 PM EST

so are you saying it's impossible for a movie to convey a political message?  um hello.

[ Parent ]
a movie can convey a political allegory (none / 0) (#50)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 05:56:38 PM EST

a movie cannot serve as a substantative parallel to real life

it's like comparing "war and peace" to an aesop's fable


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

so if i'm reading your posts correctly (none / 0) (#51)
by d0ink on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 06:12:18 PM EST

you're saying the movie is too insubstantial to merit close analysis like in this article.

okay but i disagree.

[ Parent ]

i'm saying any work of fiction (none / 0) (#58)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 04:12:25 PM EST

can be taken WAY to seriously by people with way too much time on their hands

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Dark Knight (none / 0) (#59)
by d0ink on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 04:42:34 PM EST

is a big hit movie that's been seen by millions of people.  it's been voted Best Movie Ever (or something like that) on IMDB and iconography related to the movie is all over the internet, but in your opinion it still doesn't merit any kind of serious critical scrutiny?  um ok.  

[ Parent ]
it merits serious scrutiny, sure (none / 0) (#60)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:16:17 PM EST

where serious scrutiny=serious exploration of its themes and dramatic license

where serious scrutiny!=shoehorn it into my retarded politics

its allegory. think of it on the level of aesop's fables. its useful to the real world as an aesop's fable is useful to the real world. simple minded lessons, broad vauge strokes. not literal specific parallels


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

what is it with (none / 1) (#61)
by d0ink on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 09:46:31 PM EST

aesop's fables.  aesop's fables are very short stories, usually about animals, which illustrate a lesson of some kind (like "slow and steady wins the race").  aesop's fables are not two-hour long multimillion dollar movies about people who dress like animals and with convoluted plots and guys wearing black eyeshadow.  the comparison is not helpful.

anyway i don't understand why you're adamant about denying the Batman movie's rightward slant.  all that cops-n'-robbers, vigilante justice stuff is rightist at heart.  

plus the person who wrote the article just wrote it to make trouble.  so no need to go around with the name-calling about retardedness.

[ Parent ]

what is rightwing about conflict? (none / 0) (#62)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 10:38:17 PM EST

all of life is conflict. so you are saying that all of life is rightwinged?

i do know of a thread of thought in the so called "left" that is really more ivory tower than leftwinged. that is, you stay in isolated seculsion, hermetically sealed off from the ugly  struggles of the common man, and sneer down on it as messy and violent. you think by absolving yourself of involvement in that sort of messiness, that you are preserving some sort of moral purity or superiority. no, you are just preserving your meaninglessness to real world struggles. to call violent struggle inehrently rightwing is to not understand what it means to be left wing, and simply make yourself not matter by not involving yourself in the struggles of the average man

a real left winger is down there in the mud, fighting for left wing beliefs. not in some tower sneering down on the struggle. some leftwinger cartoon hero... like robinhood ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

all of life is conflict? (none / 0) (#79)
by localman on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 06:19:13 AM EST

Last time I checked conflict was a minority of day-to-day life for most people.  YMMV, of course.

[ Parent ]
the aim of civilzation (none / 0) (#80)
by circletimessquare on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:20:23 AM EST

is to channel conflict into nonviolent means

in no way does anyone ever pretend to turn mankind into a fungal growth without any passion

it is impossible to lead a fulfilling life without passion

it is imposible to be a passionate person without getting into conflict with someone else

of course, ivory tower types like yourself, your passion lies in your feelings of superiority to the common man. you are "above" him because you are not messy like him. when what you really are are vain inert lumps whose entire rationale for engaging with anyone else is to reassert your smug sense of superiority. when the truth is, you are inherently inferior, because you have walled yourself off form the problems of the world you live in


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

So you get to decide the aim of civilisation now? (none / 0) (#82)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 01:32:19 PM EST

Speaking of ivory towers.

[ Parent ]
i don't decide anything (none / 0) (#84)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 01:00:35 AM EST

i'm merely observing

nothing ivory tower about it


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

ror (none / 0) (#85)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 06:10:33 AM EST

And what do you think a tower is good for? "Merely observing" the world without taking part in it, i.e. speculating with limited insight in the day-to-day matters of people living in it. Exactly what you're doing.

[ Parent ]
troll: (none / 0) (#88)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 03:01:23 PM EST

yer stretching

but nice try

thanks for playing

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Yah rite (none / 0) (#89)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 03:26:30 PM EST

So you can't even come up with a proper reply, and have to resort to name-calling.

[ Parent ]
resort to name calling? (none / 0) (#90)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:14:46 PM EST

dude, that's all i have ever done on the intarwebs, in every comment i've ever made

"proper reply"

hmmm

interesting concept, maybe i'll try to figure out what that is supposed to mean someday

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Total and utter bullshit (none / 0) (#91)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:17:05 PM EST

You've been arguing and defining stuff as well, usually in your own idiosyncratic way.

[ Parent ]
exactly (none / 0) (#92)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 04:57:57 PM EST

like i'm supposed to accept you as an authority about how i am supposed to argue


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Try accepting logic as an authority instead (none / 0) (#93)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 05:40:05 PM EST

Like, for instance, stop contradicting yourself all the time, and stop relying on ad hoc definitions to get out of it.

[ Parent ]
oh i can do better than that (none / 0) (#95)
by circletimessquare on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 11:48:11 PM EST

how about i stop pursuing endless pointless threads with trolls?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
You don't understand what allegory is (none / 0) (#72)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 06:37:53 AM EST

TDK isn't an allegory.

[ Parent ]
tdk most certainly is an allegory (none / 0) (#73)
by circletimessquare on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 09:48:42 AM EST



The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
allegory of what, then? (none / 0) (#74)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 09:52:47 AM EST



[ Parent ]
at least a dozen ideas (none / 0) (#75)
by circletimessquare on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 10:02:49 AM EST

chaos versus order, the flawed hero, the tragic hero, urban decay and crime, the vigilante, etc., etc.

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
See, you don't know what allegory is (3.00 / 2) (#76)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 10:04:03 AM EST

I suggest you try reading up on it instead of demonstrating for the world what an idiot you are.

[ Parent ]
hey retard: (none / 0) (#77)
by circletimessquare on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 10:04:52 AM EST

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=define%3A+allegory

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
QED. (none / 0) (#78)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Fri Aug 08, 2008 at 10:05:24 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Thanks. (none / 1) (#45)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:53:15 PM EST

...never so well fleshed out before as here.

As someone who's never done this before, it's shockingly (and frighteningly) easy to write this way.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
well yeah (none / 0) (#49)
by circletimessquare on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 05:55:26 PM EST

all you have to do is internally lower your iq by 30 points to write this way

"omfg! like i just realized teh bush is teh hitler!"


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Hey now (none / 1) (#52)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 06:51:17 PM EST

If I weren't a PhD student, I wouldn't have been exposed to enough pap in order to know how to write like this. It's not a question of lowering your brute IQ, it's a question of becoming an idiot savant: finding the cleverest fucking way of saying the most retarded crap. Id est: academia is troll training.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
But you did the exact opposite (none / 1) (#53)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 08:05:31 PM EST

The overall analysis (TDK as an apology for GWB) is sound (it has to be, since I wrote something along those lines myself), but the "clever" way of phrasing it just looks pretentious and faux-intellectual. If you want to troll the fanbase, you should rather strive for clarity. It's not hard to prove beyond doubt that it's a crap movie, and when you consider that it's #1 on IMDB's top 250 list, and that 1,211 out of 1,566 fans find a review starting with "Christopher Nolan's second bundle of joy "The Dark Knight" EXCEEDED all of my expectations!!! With the success of 2005's reboot of the Batman franchise, they took what was already established and expanded it, amped it up, and gave a deeper, darker and brooding story that is more gripping and the suspense is likely to catch you of guard several times throughout" (sic) useful, then it's fairly obvious that what we are dealing with here is not a bunch of people who will understand much of what you wrote. In fact, I believe cts might be one of them.

[ Parent ]
VZAMaZ - pls chng name into acronym (none / 0) (#54)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 10:16:01 PM EST

the "clever" way of phrasing it just looks pretentious and faux-intellectual.

That's fine, I was going for the kind of authoritative-sounding text that people with a little exposure to post-modernist, deconstructionist, post-structuralism, or constructivist (academic flavor of the week) writings tend to adopt.

I suppose you're right though that the general fan-base might not RAGE because they'll probably just stop reading it one or two paragraphs in.

I disagree that the overall analysis is sound though—I'm reading way too much into it. In fact, one could probably write an equally detailed rival analysis of TDK which sees it as condemning the neocons' behavior and ideas.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
A contrary interpretation is only possible (none / 1) (#55)
by Vampire Zombie Abu Musab al Zarqawi on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 05:17:47 AM EST

if the audience is able to see that Batman is bats, i.e. put themselves in the Gotham population's shoes. The problem is: they can't. They have too much knowledge about what is going on, so they can't help but sympathise with Batman. T-1ber put some copypasta in the queue that correctly argues this. Also, if Batman were evil, there would be no sequel, as he would be dead. Hollywood would never let a "bad" protagonist get away with it.

I agree, though, that you read too much into it. That's why I said the overall analysis, and not every aspect of it. Lucius Fox and Alfred as the institution of slavery is, of course, total and utter bullshit. As is, I would claim, the "intertextual" interpretation of the casting.

[ Parent ]

its even better than that (none / 1) (#57)
by circletimessquare on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 04:08:23 PM EST

i thought you were serious. look at my top comment, i take a swipe at you as the author for belieivng what you wrote. so you trolled me ;-)


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Prpaganda && *only* a movie ? (none / 0) (#63)
by mirko on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 10:22:51 AM EST

Leni Riefenstahl would not agree: movie are not light stuff when it comes to propaganda.
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
leni riefenstahl was purposefully propagandizing (none / 0) (#64)
by circletimessquare on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 10:46:32 AM EST

what the nolan brothers did was a completely independent act, commenting on society and heroes in a circumspect manner, and some psychotic asswipes such as yourself are reading WAYYYY too much into it

as you demonstrate, delusions need to be fed and supported. its just a fucking movie. its purpose is not what you suppose it to be. get over it fruitcake

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

"fruitcake", me ? (3.00 / 2) (#99)
by mirko on Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 08:33:34 AM EST

is that because you'd like to lick my balls?
--
Finally I managed to make the decision that I would work on it. - MDC
we had to huddle together - trane
[ Parent ]
About the ending (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 02:36:29 PM EST

I think that should be fleshed out a little better.  At the end of the movie, Batman declares that Gotham society rests on a false myth of the Harvey Dent.  As such, the "noble" lie is preserved.

According to Leo Strauss the father of neo-conservative philosophy, society must be based on noble lies: myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society.

Dent must be seen as a pure and noble figure and the real Dent must be forgotten.  It is just as Columbus's crimes have been forgotten so that he can be a hero and Martin Luther King's leftism must be forgotten to make him an acceptable hero.  This is similar to how our true motives for being in Iraq must be forgotten and the focus must be on the nobility of the troops rather than the politicians and businessmen and their questionable motives.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Heroes and Forgetting (3.00 / 3) (#44)
by anaesthetica on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 04:51:24 PM EST

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote a short piece called On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, in which he outlined three different approaches to history's use (p. 14):

  • Monumental history;
  • Antiquarian history; and,
  • Critical history.

Antiquarian history is the approach of historians who collect and assemble every little detail. Critical history is destructive of established discourses.

Monumental history is the history of those who must act. In order to act, one must forget most of history--forget the details, and forget the complications. It's the history of heroes and 'great' acts.

The essence of a hero may lie in forgetting most of what we know about them.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
not just history, human psychology (none / 0) (#65)
by circletimessquare on Thu Aug 07, 2008 at 11:48:38 AM EST

what you identify as monumental history is what is done every day, by every person, just to get through the day

the act of forgetting gets little respect. but it is often more important to forget certain things in life than remember certian things. this observation applies to personal psychology as well as it does to national history


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

that film and this story: surprisingly boring $ (none / 0) (#42)
by th0m on Tue Aug 05, 2008 at 03:31:39 PM EST



Brilliant. (3.00 / 3) (#56)
by waxmop on Wed Aug 06, 2008 at 10:26:20 AM EST

This is why I still read k5.
--
there are few things more badass than a lost cause. nailgun
Yes, nice (none / 0) (#81)
by A Bore on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 10:34:22 AM EST

About the two boats. Though the film doesn't make it clear, the detonators on the boats are in fact wired to their own boat. This is a clear inference drawn from the Joker's modus operandi - he tells Batman the opposite of the truth, thus Two-face is saved rather than his increasingly ugly girlfriend.

I thought so too. (none / 0) (#83)
by Pentashagon on Sat Aug 09, 2008 at 09:53:24 PM EST

But then I realized that all the explosions took several seconds to completely destroy whatever they were rigged to, and it's obvious that if the boat starts heaving with a massive explosion, the guy holding the detonator is going to push the button out of vengeance.

Of course, the detonators were probably just wired to both boats to be safe.

[ Parent ]

A brilliant analysis (none / 0) (#86)
by glowing tits on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 02:44:26 PM EST

Even though I don't know enough on the subject to judge the truth of your article, the arguments are constructed in a sound way and appear convincing. Brilliant rhetoric... We need more content like that.

P.

Who is Dawes? (none / 0) (#87)
by FattMattP on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 02:51:50 PM EST

You bring up this character in the second paragraph but never tell us who he is.

She (none / 0) (#94)
by anaesthetica on Sun Aug 10, 2008 at 09:54:31 PM EST

The Maggie Gyllenhaal character

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Batman's politics (none / 0) (#96)
by anaesthetica on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 04:07:56 PM EST

Efforts to place TDK's Batman on a real-world political spectrum are doomed. Sure, he's tough on crime, but he's also anti-gun. He holds himself outside the law, but destroys his own phone-tapping technology. Is he a Conservative? A Liberal? A Libertarian?

Nope, he's just Batman. And as a comic book character, he's allowed to hold simultaneous incompatible philosophies.
linky

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


Wrong. (none / 0) (#97)
by the77x42 on Fri Aug 15, 2008 at 03:19:54 PM EST

The situations that the joker sets up are all various problems for utilitarianism and variations on the prisoner's dilemma. Do you kill the lawyer to save the people in the hospital? Do you blow up the criminals so they don't blow up you? Do you save the person you love or the person everyone else loves?

While the redneck in me would be inclined to shoot the lawyer, blow up the criminals, and say "fuck it" to the politician, in two of the three cases Batman comes in to save the day. The message: you don't need to think too hard about complex moral problems because someone else is going to make the right decision for you.

In the third case, however, the decision Batman makes turns out to be the wrong one. If chosen the other way, the end result of the movie would have been pretty much the same, only Rachael would still be alive.

But this is what makes the movie ultimately a tragedy and about a flawed hero.

I think what Nolan would like us to think is that while we feel the need for heroes and people in power to make the right decisions for us, that just simply isn't going to happen and it is the people/public to make their own decisions through reasonable discourse, just like the people on the two ferries did.


"We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
"You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

Sokal Affair? (none / 1) (#98)
by SwingGeek on Sat Aug 16, 2008 at 10:13:26 PM EST

Perhaps a tribute to the Sokal Affair?

You actually had me reconsidering the film until you got to the part where Lucius "legitimates... the institution of slavery", which is clearly BS. His relationship with Bruce is clearly based on genuine affection, not exploitation.

Spoiler Below

When I watched the film, I felt like rather than being racist, that they actually attempted to fake out the audience on the stereotypes. E.g. the big black convict who it seem is going to detonate the explosives on the opposing boat, but then he throws the detonator out the window instead. "Look America, the black con is a good guy!" I actually rolled my eyes during this scene because it seemed like it was meant to be such a surprise. It made me think of Chris Rock's bit about how when white people were asked about Collen Powell they would typically reply "he speaks so well!" as if they assumed he was going to talk like a high school dropout from the projects.


Review: The Dark Knight | 99 comments (72 topical, 27 editorial, 0 hidden)
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