Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives


third-party-candidate

I understand the thought process behind a piece like Clay Shirky’s “There’s No Such Thing As A Protest Vote”. I’d like to offer a different perspective. I chose to focus on Shirky’s piece because I believe it accurately reflects a particular perspective that is out there and the article itself is currently being shared extensively on social media and elsewhere as a school of thought some people are connecting with.

I think Shirky’s viewpoint runs the danger of functioning as a narrative for those who want to feel irreproachable in their voting decision by making any other voting choices or perspectives ineffective, irresponsible, and/or a sign of weakness. Shirky’s insistence that “Presidential voting is an exercise in distinguishing the lesser of two evils. Making that choice is all that’s asked of us, and all that’s on offer” can be seen as one example of a school of thought that indirectly (or even directly) stifles political change. It most certainly can be argued that it stifles progress.

Shirky sees only three options in voting this election (or any other):

A. I prefer Donald Trump be President, rather than Hillary Clinton.

B. I prefer Hillary Clinton be President, rather than Donald Trump.

C. Whatever everybody else decides is OK with me.

Continue reading “Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives”

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Idealism, Responsibility & Compunction: The Art of Constructing Our Political Narratives

DARK KNIGHT RISES Viewers Mistake Conservative Cinema For Liberal Agenda


Dark Knight 1

Spoiler Alert!

The most amazing thing to me is that people saw THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and accused it of being Liberal Propaganda because the “villain’s” name was Bane. Did they watch the film?!!! THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is the single biggest, most overt piece of Republican propaganda to come out of Hollywood in decades. The villain’s name is spelled BANE, not because it’s a thinly disguised mask for Bain, but because the villain is a plague, a pestilence, a burden. “The Bane of my existence.”

I was also surprised by how many people hated this film. I thought it was the best of the trilogy, richest in character and far more socially, politically and morally complex than any movie of its kind in generations. I found it vastly entertaining and immensely disappointing in its severely Right-wing leanings.

dark-knight-rises1Nolan claims there is no political thought or agenda to the film. Say it enough times and maybe people will believe you. This film has politics oozing out of every pore and crevice.  And unlike the lazy schmucks a la Rush Limbaugh who accuse the film of being Liberal Propaganda simply because they don’t have the patience or brain-capacity to follow the actual plot of the film itself, anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention will realize that the whole Batman series has been a big promoter of conservative thinking. Remember that illegal surveillance system Batman builds and uses despite Morgan Freeman’s objections? The one he “needed” to use to get the job done? For the good of the people, the masses? Even though it was morally and legally wrong? Patriot Act, anyone?

Well, now Nolan’s “villain” seems to have more in common with Occupy Wall Streeters than he has with Bain Capital. Or the Tea Party. Joke’s on us. His “revolution” against the rich fails. Though he frightens the poor and huddled masses into doing his bidding and sentencing the rich to death, he is ultimately leading his “followers” to their own demise. He’s “using” them. He and his followers “demonize” the rich when, in fact, the film suggests by the end that the rich are the ones best equipped to save us, to protect us. He attacks Wall Street, for Christ’s sake! And in doing so, Bane cruelly drains the rich of their bank accounts and leaves them penniless. But when one character suggests they can afford it, another reminds us that it hurts everyone in the long run. And the rich aren’t really helpless are they? No. Through sheer will and belief, they rise up against their attackers, with pride, with dignity, heads held high, so they can go and live “good” lives, “clean” lives, honorable, straight, American lives.

Bain Capital is known for putting people out of work. Buying companies, increasing their debt, paying out handsomely to Bain itself while closing most of those businesses and displacing workers. Bane, in the film, offers those out-of-work, lower-class citizens a place to gather, to thrive, to work. Very little Bain about it. Meanwhile, Batman has developed a new source of energy that he is afraid to share. Much like the argument that we shouldn’t be sharing nuclear resources with Iran. “In the hands of the wrong person…” That person turns out to be Miranda (along with Bane), who gets control over the new energy source under false pretenses (wants to develop safe energy), THEN turns it into a bomb. That makes her a terrorist. And liberals have been accused by conservatives of being too lenient on potential terrorists. The argument with Iran is that they are building the means with which to build a bomb under the guise of wanting to create safe energy for their country. Sound familiar? Many conservatives, both here and abroad, think we should stop them now and not wait until it’s too late. Obama is the one who is accused of letting them “get too close” to having a nuclear bomb. Add to all this the fact that it is a Russian helping them complete their task.

Then there’s Commissioner Gordon who is accused of being a “war-time” commissioner. Because there’s no longer a “visible war” going on, he is considered outdated by his superiors who want to replace him. It turns out, of course, that Gordon is right and the city –the world– is attacked and his war-time thinking is now much needed. Always has been. But the public at large had been lured into a false sense of security. This is VERY much in sync with accusations that the Obama Administration is being too lenient, is not doing enough to prevent terrorism, wanting to cut the military budget, close Guantanamo, etc.

Catwoman. She ultimately joins forces with Batman, doesn’t she? And Batman’s comments about “no guns, no killing?” Catwoman gets the final word on that when she saves his sorry ass with a gun and some killing (of Bane, misunderstood leader of the OWS movement who is more motivated by misplaced anger, hatred and repression –slavery?– than by any real care for the people) and then lets us know that she’ll be keeping her guns and not buying into Batman’s gentler philosophy. Nice try, Caped Crusader.

great-marion-cotillard-was-talia-al-ghul-1And remember, Bane’s demise is his bleeding heart for that poor little girl he saved from poverty and repression, who grew up to be rich and powerful out of spite, and who uses her new power to finish her father’s work. Eerily familiar to accusations of Obama wanting to take on his father’s “anti-colonialism crusade.” Remember, she’s the one who pretends to be our friend, –so smart, so articulate– then, quite literally, STABS us in the back!

And it’s Bane who insists imprisoned criminals are actually repressed individuals who should be freed. Again, a conservative interpretation of a common liberal agenda to end the death penalty, close Guantanamo, and be more “lenient” on criminals they don’t see as hazardous to the public at large (but who are, in fact, represented as an angry mob of killers and thieves who bring lawlessness to the streets).

All this said, there is enough acknowledgement of the flaws in today’s Republican Party and some of the choices that have been made. It’s not ALL black and white. There are some very interesting grey areas and that’s part of what makes the film so damned fascinating and conversation-worthy. Conversation-worthy! THAT must be why no one likes the film! Hell, who wants to be challenged to think? Thought-provoking as I found it and as entertained as I was, I also feel a bit dirty as the film clearly lands with a vision that far more strongly favors a conservative course of action. For example, the film acknowledges that people are out of work. But it suggests that their desperation and anger has led them to follow the wrong path. When Bruce Wayne is left penniless but still gets to keep his mansion, it’s his “enemy'” that comments when the rich suffer they don’t “really” suffer. But it’s Bruce Wayne who we sympathize with. If he loses his home, the Bat Cave, he cannot help us. We don’t want to see him lose any more than he already has. The film does a good job in acknowledging other viewpoints, courses of reason, it understands where the anger comes from, why people are disillusioned, but it suggests that the conclusions of those people –their chosen course of action– is ultimately wrong, misguided, and dangerous.

To call this film Liberal Propaganda is to have not actually watched the film at all. However, THOSE accusations against the film exist and persist. And as a result,  THE DARK KNIGHT RISES elicits an undesired and –I’m willing to bet– unexpected effect in that it unintentionally points out the ridiculousness and stupidity, the sheer lack of intelligent thought that goes into the accusations made by most of the Conservative Party’s loudest voices.

They don’t even recognize an ally when they see one.

 

DARK KNIGHT RISES Viewers Mistake Conservative Cinema For Liberal Agenda