The Joker: You have all these rules and you think they'll save you. |
In July 2008 "The Dark Knight" released internationally, with this almost innocuous sounding tagline: "Welcome to a world without rules." It could be the sort of tagline for a cheesy high school flick, or a road trip, or another Jean Claude van Damme fisticuff.
Comic book fans knew better, and the rest suspected that there was a darker premise. The portent of the film has since manifested around the world with a vengeance. The word "crisis" is currently being bandied about to everything from food, to the weather, to finance.
It is difficult not to imagine that the world is slipping into anarchy when the news is filled with xenophobic violence in South Africa, Greeks burning Christmas trees before rampaging in the streets, a jet crashing into a suburb of San Francisco, terrorists running amuck in Mumbai, fires set in the California tinderbox and the rest.
A number of well respected commentators are expecting waves of bankruptcies to spread like multiple tsunami around the world, wiping out entire industries - airlines, automakers, banks, mines, media houses, energy and construction companies and all the families and individuals tied to these enterprises. It is not difficult to become fearful, to panic, knowing what circumstances are in store for us. Knowing that we are entering a Dark Night in our history.
And the concern that we are all faced with is the uncertainty that has infected everyone. What will other people do? How will other people (not like us) react? This is the crux of our fear and uncertainty.
The Joker: You'll see, I'll show you, that when the chips are down, these uh... civilized people, they'll eat each other.
In a previous review I mentioned the sound when the movie opens. It is a sort of insect-like roar. A buzz saw sound. This is the sound of stress. This is the sound of people all over the world taking collective strain. Many people are strained to breaking point. Some of these people blame others, others try to incite mob violence as a ploy to get away with looting. But the reality is, we're all in this together, and no one is to blame.
At one point in "Knight" Harvey Dent says to Batman, "You thought we could be decent men in an indecent time. You were wrong." Indeed, Gotham provides an interesting analogy to our present circumstances. As the financial system implodes, what will become of decent men, and their rules? Will heroes emerge? Is one such hero President Barack Obama? Will justice systems prevail? Will gangsters take over? Will anarchy take over?
"The Dark Knight" is about escalation. We have seen an escalation in our own troubles. Many commentators write that the most obvious consequence of the erosion of wealth worldwide will be ordinary crime.
I wrote an article which has proved, so far, not to be very popular, titled "Why the World Needs Batman." It is for these reasons; that the real world is contracting, the real world is reverting to similar circumstances that spurned the idea of Batman in the first place. The Batman comic appeared between two decisive events in modern history. The Great Depression and the Second World War.
Harvey Dent: The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.
There is an ominous warning in those words. In order for us to see the dawn we have to see the darkness. And this is the essence of "The Dark Knight." The darkness is serious. If the official tagline is: "Welcome to a world with no rules" and unofficial tagline is: "Why so serious?"
James Howard Kunstler has some useful answers. Kunstler writes:
Stimulus aimed at perpetuating mass motoring will be a tragic waste of our dwindling resources... Unfortunately, our tendency will be to try to rescue the totemic touchstones of everyday life, things familiar and comfortable, regardless of whether they have a future or not.And so we return the original problem, and in "Knight" this is epitomised viscerally in the two ferry boats, each group of passengers given a detonator and a time limit to blow up the other.
This analogy is tragically accurate. In a world of dwindling resources, there will be exactly that temptation. The psychological concept has been called Last Man Standing. "Knight" intuits this, which is why it has resonated so powerfully around the world.
I have watched "The Dark Knight" four times. Perhaps if the worldwide audience begins to make some of the serious psychological preparations evident in the film, we may be better prepared to deal with the imminent darkness of the real world. And we'll be needing a different set of rules.
2008/12/10 오전 5:19
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