Thursday, July 24, 2008

Batman...

So, as you may know, a little film called Batman came out this weekend.

Here's the story.

Gotham City is a bustling town. It's a homogeneous mixture of all races, religions and facial mutations. It's a city that's on the move, a city that resembles most any post industrial city of the late 20th century. A city whose mills and slaughter houses have been converted into towers of Capitalism.


But, as it turns out, Gotham, like many cities of its size and fictional status, has a crime problem.

From the look of much of the city, we can assume that the root of this crime problem is poverty and a debased system of taxation and public funding that favors the more upscale areas created during the "White-Flight" of the Elder Daley's rule as Chicago Gotham City. The CEO's and Corporate Maven's flee to the suburbs at 5 pm, creating a massive hole in the municipal tax system and leaving the urban public schools and support services crumble under the weight of a desperate population.

It's no wonder the streets of Gotham are marred by crime. Generations of entrenched poverty and failing educational systems have left the citizens with little hope and a feeling of profound abandonment. They are crippled by a lack of choice and fight for control of their lives. They face a world where the only realistic options are a McDonald's uniform or an Army uniform. They look up at the sky scraper and monuments of corporate decadence, and simply ask "Why Not Me."

These people are not stupid. They know that the only way to be heard and respected in this class obsessed society, is to become actively engaged in the Capitalist system by whatever means necessary. With lack of access to education and training, the traditional path or "ladder" to financial Independence is not available and they must grasp at any available means of advancement. For many of these people, the only avenue seems to be crime.


And by all accounts, the "Crime Families" are a fairly well organized bunch. Their group meetings resemble the "legitimate" board meetings that we see throughout the movie taking place high above the city. The only difference is that the people in these meetings aren't all white. So they organize and split up territory; share and discuss finances; and spend their time networking with other successful members of their profession.


Until...


Bruce Wayne/Batman shows up.



Here we see Bruce Wayne looking down, god-like, at the city. He sits in his throne, waiting for the moment to pass judgement on the world below.


See, Bruce Wayne/Batman, is the enforcer of capitalism. His power is built upon his ability to lay out large sums of money(much of it taken from corporate resources) to build weapons and suits that make him seem more than man. Through his vast wealth and willingness to embrace violence to stop those who oppose him, Mr. Wayne/Mr. Man fancies himself the new world √úbermensch.


As he looks down upon the world, he sees those who seek to amass wealth and challenge his godlike status. He sees them as nothing more than dogs who must be punished when they try to feed from the table instead of waiting for scraps. So, equipped with a mask and an arsenal, he descends upon the world to inspire fear and attempt to maintain the status quo. It's important that we look at the arsenal that Batman uses to enforce his reign of terror, because in it we see the true nature of consumerist capitalism.


Batman's "Batarang" is just another example of consumer labeling. The weapon would be more effective if it wasn't bent and twisted to resemble the "Bat Logo"

Each of Batman's weapon's is a testament to his own ballooning ego. They are a symbol of not only his physical power and his technical prowess, but also of his ability to take traditional weapons and symbology and bend them to his will, glorifying himself in the process.

Bruce/Bat's most telling "gadget" is the bat signal.


Batman stands witness to his own greatness

Though, claimed as a "Calling Card," it is a pretty clear that it's just a symptom of Batman/BruceWayne's messiah complex. In essence, he is literally projecting himself into the heavens, making himself the face of God. To him, it is a symbol that he is always looking down on Gotham, ready to take up the mantle of Savior. To him, much like Rudyard Kipling, it is a burden that he must undertake, saving the "savages" and showing them real civilization.

We are meant to separate the hero Batman, from the man Bruce Wayne. We are to see that Bruce's blustery decadent and wasteful playboy is real mask that hides the Batman inside. But to look at their abuse of resources and embracing of the Capitalistic lifestyle, we find that there's not much of a difference.



vs.












Note how both of these cars are expressions of American capitalism. We have the first car, a genuine expression of wealth, fast and flimsy. Then we look at the second the so called "Batmobile,"(The Tumbler), an expression of America's military might. Noisy Bulky and sheltered. It probably gets 5 miles a gallon. Also, if you'll notice the picture, it eats children.

But Bruce is suspicious. He knows that in spite of his stranglehold on the Gotham economy, that a change is going to come. It always does...people rise up and take on the abusive system...shedding the yoke of repression. To prevent this, Bruce seeks absolute totalitarian control by his buyout of the Gotham's main telecom/cell phone provider. His purpose? To spy on everyday Gothamites. In a day and age where it's no longer practical to have a land-line, Bruce has ensured that he is at the center of every thought that Gotham shares.


I'm sure this is the phone the poor citizens were forced to carry

See, through the use of modern cell technology Bruceman can watch and listen to everything Gotham does. He, like many who seek such power, justifies this by saying that it is only a temporary solution to a terrorist threat. So we have Batman wiretapping without so much as a warning to those who he seeks to protect. They are expected to bow down and give up their civil liberties to a shadowy Capitalist totalitarian figure.

So we end with a question. Do we give up our liberty to our "betters", those who wish to "save us from ourselves" or do we bravely take up arms, like the real heroes of this film(the so called "criminals") and circumvent a capitalistic system that victimizes the poor, a system that must be enforced by a truncheon(or a bat truncheon).

I for one will stand up next time I see this movie....I'm so enraged that I've seen it 3 times in IMAX. I'll see it again too. I'll keep on seeing it. That'll show'em for not letting me be an extra.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

27 things to do before 27

1. Start making list

2. Record SKALD story.

3. Make Podcast

4. Update Blog

5. Write short story

6. Perform at the Annoyance

7. Eat Sushi

8. Visit Three Chicago Area Museums

Field Museum

Shedd Aquarium

Modern Art

9. Share a candlelit dinner with Gabrielle

10. Learn to cook 3 new dishes.

11. Successfully Go to the Music Box

12. Go clothing shopping

13. Find out who keeps crapping outside the litter box.

Sneaky? Zelda? Gabrielle

14. Photoshop myself into great moments in history.

15. Eat at two different Wendy’s

16. Get my passport.

17. Paint something, anything.

18. Edit audio

19. Count to 19.

20. Brunch!

21. Lose 7 pounds.

22. Buy a copy of Streetwise.

23. Have a “4 day weekend”

24. Wear my slippers all day one day.

25. Give up caffeine.

26. Learn to dance!

27. Finish writing out list.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Song of My Returning.

So for the past few weeks I’ve been on the move. Zipping from one city to the next, barely pausing for a story festival and a 15 hour project.

Action has been the word of the day, and it’s been sponsored by the letter B and the Awesome Corporation

The motion really began with a trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. Both Gabrielle and I had been dying for a vacation, and on a whim decided to make the journey. So, with our hopes of relaxation tucked firmly in our bathing suits, we packed up the plane and flew out.

To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect from returning to Ocean City. I hadn’t even thought about going back there since we had the lunch honoring Mom. There’s so much of that town that’s tied up in memories of her. She was the one who first brought us there. She brought us there because it was a place that meant a great deal to her. It was a place that, as a child, she drew deep comfort and joy. Each summer we would make the seemingly eternal drive up the East Coast from South Carolina to New Jersey spurned on by her optimism and hope for another wonderful summer. And it always was.

All the same, when Mom died, I kind of put the whole place out of my mind. As if I could never really imagine going back there as an adult. Like it was locked into my childhood, and revisiting it now after all that’s happened would somehow bring a darkness to those memories.

I’m having trouble thinking about it and even more trouble expressing it, so I’ll just say that I was wrong.

It was incredibly empowering and therapeutic.

To be there, in that house, as an adult, made me feel more connected to those memories. It was reassuring to see that despite the flotsam and flux of the last half decade, that if nothing else, that house remains constant.

It made me feel more adult. As if I was a part of a tradition that spans generations, it’s a tradition that is so ingrained in me, that it’s impossible to separate. It’s a tradition that defines me as a part of a family. It’s a tradition that always begins with cooking Pasta on the first night.

There’s more to say. But like I say, I’m still having trouble thinking about it. When I get home I’ll post the pictures and the story I told at SKALD based on the experience.