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Batman the Capitalist

   The Post's movie critic, Ann Hornaday, had a nifty little piece in Sunday's paper (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/01/AR2005070100370.html) in which she reveals that the libertarian blogworld has latched onto "Batman Begins" as a rare Hollywood endorsement of America's anti-government, pro-individual heritage. The Bruce Wayne in the latest Batman flick spurns his parents' liberal do-goodism after their murderer is coddled and treated more as a mentally ill fellow than as a vicious thug. Master Wayne turns into a vigilante who takes over the family company, realizes that an individual must create justice on his own because he can't trust the system, and is quite comfortable with a classic black-white view of evil and good.

   Ann--and all those libertarians out there--are absolutely right that this Batman is a walking advertisement for the Cato Institute. But if I were a hard-core libertarian--I am, rather, a queasy and mushy libertarian, which is a very dangerous thing to be--I would not be so quick to adopt Batman Begins as my own because the problem with this Batman movie is that, unlike the comic and the first movies in the series, this one is utterly and relentlessly humorless. It completely misses the comic book, the cartoonish side of the Batfellow. And no political movement can succeed in the long run without a decent sense of humor. The earlier versions of the Batkid mythology were self-deprecating and self-aware in a way that this guy never could be. It's hard to imagine anyone liking this Bruce Wayne; it's even hard to imagine why Alfred stays loyal to such a harsh Master Bruce.

   But libertarian or not, this Batman is deeply committed to the city, no matter how wretched urban life might become. There's a lesson in there for all those suburban libertarians who now fancy themselves caped crusaders. 

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 5, 2005; 9:54 AM ET
 
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Comments

The new guy is really getting into this blogging thing. Who knew Joel was so dispensable?

Posted by: Achenfan | July 5, 2005 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Libertarians have a sense of humor? When did John Galt ever crack a joke? Dagny Taggart probably has a braying horse laugh.

Posted by: Videlicet | July 5, 2005 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I have been a stalwart opponent of the libertarian cause ever since I learned that they don't believe in public parks. I certainly believe in personal liberty, but let's not get carried away!

Posted by: kbertocci | July 5, 2005 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I don't care what his politics are--Christian Bale is hot!

[I meant to post this anonymously but now I will reveal my SAO-15-ness by questioning the verb agreement above. Today on NPR I heard someone say "politics are dangerous; politics are messy" and I thought that was wrong, it should have been "politics is dangerous." But then, when I did the same plural thing, it seemed okay. Tom fan, what do you say?]

Posted by: Anonymous | July 5, 2005 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Posted by:|,
I think it depends on the context. In "politics is dangerous" (which I believe is correct), politics is being referred to as a subject, an area of study, a field, etc., and thus is singular. In "I don't care what his politics are," you're referring to his opinions on possibly many different things, so you could say that "politics" is plural. Plus "I don't care what his politics is" just sounds wrong, to me. (But if previous discussions are anything to go by, there is probably another solution to this problem that I haven't even thought of. Or about which I haven't even thought.)

Posted by: Tom fan | July 5, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Libertarians probably don't like public libraries either. Where else would I check out my graphic novels?

Posted by: Videlicet | July 5, 2005 10:51 AM | Report abuse

There are suburban libertarians where you guys live? Really? Suburban libertarians as backlash to conformist suburban family-friendly fascists? Revolution!

Posted by: nomes | July 5, 2005 10:53 AM | Report abuse

What is the libertarian stance on immigration? How about illegal immigration?

Curious, honestly.

Posted by: Alejandro | July 5, 2005 11:20 AM | Report abuse

As a comic geek and Batfan, I'd argue that this movie is the best representation of Batman to ever appear on the big screen. He's driven, obsessed, and his sense of humor is more a dry wit than anything else: "You know how it is. You're at a party and someone starts passing around the weaponized hallucinogens."

(Of course, every aficiando knows that Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League are the best Batman outside of the comics.)

Now, I never thought about Bruce as a libertarian, but that's actually quite true. Fascinating!

Posted by: Mara | July 5, 2005 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I've never really paid attention to the political aspects of Batman enough to place him in any sort of "party" category. However, I do believe he is the best superhero out there. He doesn't need special powers, just a really great tool belt.

Posted by: Sara | July 5, 2005 12:18 PM | Report abuse

The best super-villian is Mr. Mxyzxptlk, because all he does is be annoying. Perfect for a blogger!

Posted by: Videlicet | July 5, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I knew it wouldn't take long before someone put 'libertarian', Ayn Rand, and 'fascists' into the same comment item.

bc

PS, I haven't seen 'Batman Begins', but it probably has more car chases than 'The Fountainhead'. Might be a tie for whippings, though.

Posted by: bc | July 5, 2005 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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