Do We Get It Now? The Joker is Real and Batman is Not.

Begin rant.

I have had it up to my eyeballs with superheroes. They were invented for 12 year olds to ease them into and out of adolesence, not to keep society perpetually in adolescence. We have the technology to do the harm that the villains do – and we use it. We don’t possess the super powers the heroes have and we largely ignore our own capacity to do good in favor of sitting, mouths agape in service to the glorified high provided by gratuitous violence and rampant disrespect for human life and dignity. Batman, as I recall, does not have super powers – he is mortal. He, nor anyone like him, came to the rescue when the Joker came to call in Colorado.

Are we learning anything yet?

I understand parables and fables and the constructs of fiction and I like special effects. I love movies, have always loved movies, have found tremendous solace and wisdom in movies. Movies are not an escape, though, if they don’t feed all the parts of your mind, and if you don’t do anything beyond the screen that comes from thoughtfulness. I realize the need for escapism borne of a poor economy and a real world punctuated by war and senseless violence. Back during the Great Depression the folks we now call The Greatest Generation turned to movies that shared their pain and lifted their spirits (The Grapes of Wrath, It Happened One Night, Public Enemy, 42nd Street, Top HatRed Dust, Rebecca), not sociopaths and explosions that stoked their anger and underscored their impotence. We have some lovely movies out now (Moonrise Kingdom) but they are not the ones that have PR budgets in tens of millions, midnight showings and top grosses (pun intended). We set Hollywood’s priorities with our ticket money and our internet hits – what are we telling them?

Yes, our leaders in government, politics and religion are failing us (and some of them are stoking our anger, too, with their politics of divisiveness, class warfare and hate), but maybe if we gave them the same level of attention we do these overwrought, overviolent and oversexed films they might have some incentive to get some work done. It’s not enough to weigh in about the latest cable news brouhaha – we need to  understand what is actually happening. It’s work. It’s important. It’s the kind of thinking that makes you mad in a good way. We desperately need heroes in real life, and we will not find them at the movies. We will find them in the mirror.

End rant.

Addendum: Ross Douthat from The Times weighs in.

Cats vs. Dogs


Our boys play a game called cats versus dogs, and as you can see, one side of the room is mostly cats and the other dogs.  The game involves a fight modeled on the battle scene in The first Chronicle of Narnia movie, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.  Devised by my older son with ASD, it involves charging horses and airborne animals colliding all over the place, accompanied by epic music and battle cries.  If you look very closely, the animals and toys that are neither cats nor dogs are divided up (roughly) by good guys and bad guys – Captain Hook with the dogs, Peter Pan with the cats, etc.  After the battles, we notice that cats and their friends always win, and the ensuing conversation goes something like this:

“When you play cats versus dogs, who wins?”

“The cats.”




“They’re the heroes; dogs are villains.”

“How come?”

“Because dogs chase cats.  Dogs are villains because they are too jumpy.”

“So the cats are good because they get chased by the dogs?”


“You’re a good kid, you always root for the underdog.”

“No – the undercat.”

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