Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Batman and Nietzsche

What to say about The Dark Knight?

Some say that there is nothing redeeming in it. Others (see comments) argue that it presents a picture that resonates somewhat with how things really are, usually related to human depravity.

This essay by Jason Lee Steorts talks about The Dark Knight and ethics; it reads like a really long blog post, but the ideas are very interesting. At least skim page 1 and read page 2 for real. How do you fight vandals? How can you get people to resist vandalism when they have very little in the way of a metaphysical bulwark against joining the vandals? In four fascinating paragraphs, Steorts defends Nietzsche as a philosopher worth listening to regarding these questions. Maybe it's not so much a defense as an invitation: look into what Nietzsche had to say on the topic. Don't assume that the only way to appreciate him is to "worship him on the way to destroying things." I'm intrigued. (But I wonder what Father Brown would make of Nietzsche's end-of-life madness.)

Pirate Jimmy has graced this blog with some nuggets from Nietzsche in the past. Perhaps he can give us a post about what he's learned from the man with the mustache.

But what should I say about The Dark Knight? Well, I like the direction that Adam takes it, particularly what he suggests about the city of Gotham itself as a character in the movie--a character with a soul that needs saving. This is an element that was not present in the earlier Batman films, and I think the last two have been greatly enriched by it. I'm still hashing out my thoughts on how this thesis affects the interpretation of the films, but I'll be posting them shortly.

In the mean time, watch this and start worrying. I hope he knows what he's talking about, because I sure don't:


Adam said...

Thanks for the shout out. If I had to do it over again I think I'd contrast Batman's beliefs vs the Joker's about the human nature of (the people of) Gotham.

Another question to ask is, "Are the character and actions of a society on the whole a macroscopic sketch of the (potential of the) individual heart?"

Pirate Jimmy said...

Heyo. While I have not been getting further acquainted with Nietzche in the past months, I HAVE seen Dark Knight three times in the theater (never with the same people though).