Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dark Knight - "Morbid Incoherence"

This is one smart analysis:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/opinion/21lethem.html?pagewanted=1&th&emc=th

I had not been persuaded by the "Dark Knight = W" analysis, and this puts it in perspective. The film is more nihilistic than that, but not just nihilistic: there's a poignancy, a doubt, an ambivalence. Even nihilism is somehow certain in its affirmation of nothingness, and this film is not. It teases us with nihilism, only to snatch it away and say, "No, not quite. You can't even have that to hold on to."

And in that sense, it is a very profound piece, I remain convinced.

3 Comments:

OpenID raebryant said...

Yes, I like the analysis. I wonder, though, of Lethem's understanding of mortgage-backed securities and market trends. The following is an opportunistic coat-tailing on Lethem's analysis, certainly, but I'll try it on for size, anyway.

I can write with good resource that the market is responding to general public expectations/perceptions, not what the mortgage market can actually bear. Taking this further, the public is actually worsening the market down trend and exponentially so, in spite of constant assurances that the government simply will not let Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac "fail." Financial whizs are quietly buying stock left and right while everyone else is running scared. Guess who will be laughing when it's all over? My money's on the buyers.

Of course, this does strengthen Lethem's argument, a self-fullfilling prophecy, so to speak. Our economy compared to the Gotham boat scene. Do we blow the other boat up? Do we bankrupt our own exchange to save ourselves--at least for the time being? I mean, we are all destined to a penniless death, are we not?

The Joker would have Gotham believe that a lack of faith is the only answer to saving themselves, an option that the "civilized" are willing to take in order to save their own necks. Still, it took Gotham's hardened criminal at the bottom of the social dung heap to show honor, to save everyone. Will it take a hardened criminal to save the economy? Well, we always have the politicians.

Wow! Now there's one to keep me up at night. Culture, money, none of it matters so much as who is low enough to see the truth of it all. Who can throw the bomb button out the window?

Yes, Lethem writes eloquently of surface tensions, but I can't help but peer into the depths where the darker fishies swim. Some of them may be uncomfortably familiar, but through the silvery scales, I see the Joker feeding at the bottom, laughing at us all, as we bankrupt our own economy, while trying to save our shiny pennies for a tank of gas. That's the film. It's a deep watery mirror.

Ambivalence, nihilism, a profound statement, whatever floats your boat, or rather, whatever sinks it. We're all on the same ride. It's just a question of who gets sea-sick, who brought their Dramamine, and who was born with sea legs.

5:44 PM  
Blogger KPaffenroth said...

Well, for me the ambivalence always boils down to the Joker being half right: the people of Gotham really AREN'T worthy of Batman. But they're also not as bad as the Joker thinks they are (e.g. the guy on the boat who thinks he's willing and able to pull the switch, but isn't). They just want other people to make the tough decisions for them. Even the criminal on the boat is preferable, only because he (rightly) diagnoses the situation as one that they should NOT choose. But the people of Gotham are so morally flaccid that they can make NO decisions.

6:58 PM  
OpenID raebryant said...

Yes, frighteningly flaccid. Except for Morgan Freeman, of course. He appears the metal cogs in the machine. Another hero in my estimation. The guy willing to give up his power for the best interest of all.

What a film . . .

7:41 AM  

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