Keep Your Politics Out of My Batman


It’s not uncommon for filmmakers to put their political and/or religious beliefs out of the stories they tell. Movies themselves are full of themes, ideas and messages, it goes without saying. In fact, if you don’t have an overall point, your movie probably sucks. But notice the difference between a message or theme from your beliefs. One is an ultimate point, something the film is centered around, constantly being conveyed through whatever it is the characters do.

In the 2003 remake of Willard (don’t remember?), Willard Stiles is a pathetic man with absolutely nothing to his name, and his life is being run into the ground with an especial amount of help from his tyrannical bully of a boss. You feel sorry for Willard (Kinda. Depends on how you feel about Crispin Glover) until he gets his iota of power by controlling an army of rats. He, in time, becomes just as bad as his boss to make an hour and a half short. The idea being don’t become what you hate. While this isn’t to say that everyone should strive to be like Willard, at least not financially, the movie had a message and it was made clear to those who wanted it. Most times people don’t, or don’t need to pick up on this but many times you can just feel it. It centers the film. But a message isn’t what I’m speaking of.

What annoys me in movies, specifically ones I’m already invested in, are when filmmaker’s points, or their own personal beliefs overtake anything else in the film. Not every movie will have a universal truth in it I understand, but when the “underlying” thought is just your view on something in the form a movie, it does tend to take away from the movie. Avatar was full of problems even with being the highest grossing movie of all time. It suffered from an overused plot and just plain unoriginal feel. But what stuck out the most for more reasons than one, is the “Ew, military” tone that permeated the entire movie. It wasn’t there if you wanted to dig deep enough, but rather, you need to look past what Cameron was trying to say if you want to enjoy the movie. My bad, just thought I paid my money for a good movie, not your political stance. This, to me, is forgetting the point of movies. There’s the money, yeah. There’s the art of telling a great story, yeah. But the entertainment value is profoundly lessened when the primary focus of storytelling is some rant against your opposing political party or a certain group of people. No, I’m not sticking up for Bush.

Some films you know what you’re getting into. Be it Passion of the Christ or just about anything by Oliver Stone, the demographic is being marketed to without discretion because we all have an idea of what to expect. Yet to have paid then find out what you helped support is something entirely against your ideals or just something you don’t promote in general makes me feel like I’ve been tricked.

I do consider this to be different than involving a universal truth; something few filmmakers are able to truly understand and utilize. Being that The Dark Knight Rises has just come out and evidently it’s Batman week, it feels natural to include an idea that was floating around in 2008 when The Dark Knight opened up. The thought was that Batman’s stand against crime and the Joker appearing and pushing back just as hard in his own, violent way was much like the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” with Bush being likened to Batman of all things in this. I look at that as being more a truism rather than a belief. It’s one of those things that just is; by attempting to keep a moral high-ground while dealing with a people that don’t have the same reservations, things are going to get rough, to put it broadly. But if you didn’t look into that, or even if you did, you can still enjoy Batman. Bam, there it is: a balance.

I’m not strictly speaking of filmmakers creating a movie with an alternate motive either, but also the people who see their own message in a film and act as though you not agreeing with that is you being blind. When Star Wars: Episode III was released, Entertainment Weekly saw fit to mention they thought it was clear that the Jedi obviously stood for liberals of the world, fighting for liberty and freedom, while the Sith was standing in for oppressive Republicans. They definitely weren’t the only ones, drawing parallels wherever they felt like it. Even with his steady decline in quality films, I give George Lucas more credit than that. I bring all this up in light of recent talk that The Dark Knight Rises has it’s own messages. One critic in particular was commenting how capitalist the film’s message is, stating that it’s part of a response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Psh. Rush Limbaugh, on the other hand, looked at Bane as a euphemism for a financial service company he used to run. Laaaaame. Thankfully, Nolan responded stating that the films are not meant to be political. Thank you.

All in all, I don’t want to sound as though restrictions should be put on film if they’re saying something I don’t agree with; it’s their movie, whichever filmmaker wants to put their message in there. What I am saying is that your ideas shouldn’t overwhelm the movie itself. It’s like too much frosting on a cake. Personally, as stated above, I’m a fan of universal truth in film rather than a single side the creator believes is right. Once again, this is a hard balance to strike, much less do it well. When properly though, the message and movie can be overtly powerful, whether or not the viewer completely understands what they’re watching. Even without comprehending every single idea, the movie can still be enjoyed. It’s just a shame so many think they need to throw their ideas in your face for you to get it.

“So the mask is like, the mask of society, right? And his head being shaved is like, symbolic of society being clean of the lice that are the terrorists. Duh.”


One Response to “Keep Your Politics Out of My Batman”

  1. Hollywood is a brainwashing tool of the Illuminati!!


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