Friday, July 27, 2012

They Are Legion: Bane and the Demonic Potential of the "99%"

I recently read a review of the politics of the new movie "The Dark Knight Rises". In that review, the author remarked that the movie was politically vague and disjointed. He criticized the movie in that there was no clear cut political agenda in the movie and was upset at the way it portrayed the poor of Gotham City.

As for me, I went and saw the movie and was left chilled to the core.
The source of my discomfort and anxiety was the parallel I saw between Bane and so many real-life figures who shared his agenda. SPOILER HERE-Although Bane's agenda on the surface turns out to be false, the way he implements it is synonymous with such catastrophes as the French and Russian Revolutions. He "empowers" the poor to take their revenge upon the successful and rich. What follows is riots, the sovereign property of citizens being taken from them, with the consent of the powers-that-be, police-state martial law, and "utopia"-and by that I mean squalid communal living where everyone is desperately trying to survive. On top of that, by using the "truth" against the Gotham police, Bane releases hundreds of dangerous criminals back out onto the streets, armed and dangerous as his own private army.

I don't think I have to begin listing the real world analogues here to Bane, but what is startling is how fast the "have-nots" flock to Bane and take advantage of his offer. The Devil is among them, and he offers to give them everything they want, the price being control. Not only that, the "have-nots" set up their own "peoples' courts" and sentence or exile those who they feel-not convict of any crime, but feel-have too much or they think oppressed them. They are the 99%, alright, and they are Legion.

What the TDKR shows is the power of the mob in its true form. That demonic emotionalism that carries everything before it is unleashed, with horrific consequences, the most horrific being that they make "examples" of those who try to stand against them or try to maintain law and order. And the saddest thing about the poor? They are turned on those who could do the most to help them (no, I don't mean corrupt Wall Street brokers or the exponentially more corrupt government bureaucracy). They could take away so much from the example of successful people who came by their wealth by the strength of their backs, the sweat of their brows, and the resolve of their wills. But instead of doing so, they are like sheep: mindless, and thus easily swayed by nice whispers and grandiose pledges by ideologues. Bane is not so much a terrorist but the ultimate personification of banal evil: he mocks tradition and order and society and then proceeds to show us just how fast it can fall. He uses our Divine Gifts and twists them to his own purposes. He is so much the Devil it is easy for me to look back in hindsight and understand why I was chilled to the bone.

In the movie, Bane remarks that he is "Gotham's reckoning". I believe that this is his way of making his claim to being the "god" of his new world, much as Satan is referred to as the "king of this world", and Bane's world is a reflection of its master: hollow, violent, cruel, and worthless to the point of deserving destruction. It's not hard to imagine that that is what Lucifer said to God about humanity when he objected before the Holy of Holies. But the difference is that Lucifer rebelled against God; we humans didn't rebel so much as we broke a rule, but not, I think, in a spirit of rebelliousness as Lucifer did. And God loved us and cared about us, we pathetic creatures who have fallen so far, that he gave us a way out. And Batman is Nolan's Jesus-willing to do whatever it takes, suffer any injury, bear any burden (the truth about Harvey Dent and make himself the murderer, the outlaw, the criminal) in order that Gotham may live in a society of peace and order. And Bruce Wayne stops at nothing to protect all Gotham's citizens, even when they demand his head and hunt him.

In conclusion, TDKR is about potential, the potential of humanity. It is asking a question of us, and that is "what will you do when the defecation hits the oscillation?" Will we fall into the Devil's trap, and become just another mindless blob of flesh, bone, and unending rage? Or will we act in the Image of our Maker and rise above it, to restore and/or maintain a better, nobler kind of existence? Humanity has so much potential, let's not waste it.

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