Batman vs. Occupy Wall Street: Is the Dark Knight Rises the propaganda of the 1%?
It’s no surprise to see the theme of political revolution in the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
Revolution is a no-brainer plot template that is successfully integrated in about half of all big Hollywood Hits: a corrupt totalitarian government (or the threat of one) taken down by a time of rebel freedom-fighters.
What I found a little surprising, however, was that the revolution featured in The Dark Knight Rises is the same one that has been going on around the world since September 17, 2011, in response to the crippled financial system.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is a populist movement against the “1%” – the poor against the rich. An economic revolution, Marx would say, is overdue.
Is New York City the Real Gotham?
According to the Occupy Wall Street Website,
The 1% mayor of NYC is so sure he can buy anything and anyone, as easily as he bought the office of mayor, including an unprecedented third term.
In his attempt to transform our city into his own 1% fantasy land, he has created a police state: where minority citizens are daily terrorized with stop and frisk; where only the most healthy, wealthy and white are welcome, and the “unwanted” are driven out of their homes and neighborhoods; where peaceful protesters are attacked with pepper spray and batons, and brutally evicted from lovingly built unique realizations of true democracy.
The economic conflict between rich and poor is one of the key themes of The Dark Knight Rises. But in a bizarre twist, the Hero (Batman) is part of the 1%!
The movie starts out by contrasting the poorer parts of the city with Bruce’s extravagant parties and masked balls. Bruce Wayne wins brownie points for supporting some orphanages (until he stopped paying attention out of self-pity and those organizations ran out of money) and for criticizing the fundraisers as self-indulgent rich people paying for the elaborate spread of refreshments.
And later when Bruce loses everything (well, except his multi-million dollar mansion, which he was allowed to keep) I guess he’s kind of joined the rest of the world, at least briefly.
Anne Hathaway, who plays a neo-catwoman Selina and one of the romantic interests, is a thief. She and her thieving friends are eager for the economic revolution, the coming storm, the redistribution of wealth – and then it actually happens.
When Bane (Tom Hardy) comes into town promising to take down the 1%, they destroy Wall Street and release the prisoners from jail. The poor masses join in: looting, vandalizing, even (we should assume) murdering and raping. This is a social revolution that has happened over and over in human history. People like revolution.
Selina’s friend asks her (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “Aren’t you happy? This is what we wanted!”
Is Director Christopher Nolan Part of the 1%?
Christopher Nolan’s net worth is $90 Million. That’s not super-rich as far as things go these days. But it’s a fuckload of money more than I have. If I were Christopher Nolan, and all my friends were rich movie stars and producers, and I had lots of big houses all over the world and millions of dollars invested, I’d probably be very wary of Occupy Wallstreet.
I’d be a little insecure about the possibility of a villain-hero leading a revolution that would break down my door, beat up my family and steal everything I have. I’d be worried about the banks crashing or getting blown up, and all my money disappearing.
So what would I do about it?
Maybe, just maybe, I’d integrate an economic revolution in one of my movies but make it a bad thing. I could give viewers the carnage of violence and bloodshed they long for, keeping them in check and happy with an otherwise low standard of living and the fact that I had 90 million dollars.
I could also suggestively plant subconscious ideas like economic revolution is wrong and it’s OK to be super rich because then you could afford cool shit like Batman.
The rich, in The Dark Knight Rises, have the moral high ground.
And Bane and his girlfriend Miranda (Marion Cotillard) are just angry terrorists with personal vendettas.
The Dark Knight Rises gives occupy Wall Street everything they think they want, just so it can show how wrong and bad and terrible that would be.
We NEED the rich, the movie says, silently in the shadows, watching over us as protectors, keeping the bad guys out of the system.
Moreover they should be above the law (like Batman). Unprosecutable. The ridiculously Mock Trials in the movie teach us how unjust it is to prosecute wealthy people simply for being wealthy and not sharing their wealth.
What did you think about The Dark Knight Rises?
Derek Murphy is a writer and artist from Oregon, currently working on his PhD thesis on revolutionary literature while traveling the globe. He writes about comparative religion, popular culture and literary theory. If you’d like to hear about his upcoming projects or books, you can follow him on Twitter, join the Facebook page, or subscribe by RSS.