They’re closer to the Joker.
This week, the Obama campaign went gaga for Batman. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises is coming out on Friday – and sure, it’ll make a fortune. Any competent campaign would be eager to tie their campaign to the popularity of Batman.
But the Obama campaign doesn’t really get Batman.
How do we know? Well, they tried to exploit Batman in two ways. First, they tried to suggest that Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s old hedge fund, was evil … just like the villain in the new Batman movie, who happens to be named Bane. “It has been observed that movies can reflect the national mood,” Democratic advisor Christopher Lehane told the Washington Examiner. “Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society.”
Wrong. The creator of Bane, Chuck Dixon, who is apparently a conservative, quickly called this “ridiculous.” The good news, says Dixon: “Overgrasping Dems? Hey, if it gets Obama supporters into theaters. Maybe they’ll buy thousands of Bane toys to throw at Romney. It all adds to MY Bane capital.”
So the Democrats turned to exploiting the new Batman movie another way: they’re calling Obama and Joe Biden “the Dynamic Duo.” Only one problem: Batman – Bruce Wayne – is a multi-billionaire who fights the evil forces of the Occupy Wall Streeters like Catwoman in the new movie. In fact, Catwoman tells Batman, “There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” The 99% speaking.
And there’s no Robin in the movie. And even if there were a Robin … well, nobody likes Robin. He’s annoying and silly and a tad odd. So at least there’s an argument to be made that Biden is like the Boy Wonder, even if Barack is no caped crusader.
In truth, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has, thus far, been quite conservative. The first film, Batman Begins, suggested that government is corrupt, private individuals with great wealth can help protect the populace, and individuals can triumph over collective solutions (the villain in that film wants to watch Gotham City go down in flames so that it can rebuild in a better way). The second film, The Dark Knight, is an ode to George W. Bush’s anti-terror methodologies – Bruce Wayne constructs a PATRIOT Act-like system of bugging every cellphone in Gotham to track down the ruthless terrorist Joker. (And we never hear about the Joker’s bad childhood or poverty-ridden teenage years; he’s just bad.) The press turns against Batman for fighting terror too wholeheartedly; the population wants to concede to the terrorists. But Batman wins anyway—at the cost of his popularity. (George W. take heart.)
The Obama campaign might want to think twice before focusing Americans’ attention on The Dark Knight Rises. It’s not exactly what they think it is. Mitt Romney resembles Batman far more than Barack Obama, who would raze Wayne Manor to the ground, redistribute the bricks among the criminals destroying the City, pay off all the mob bosses, and shut down Wayne Tower for environmental shortcomings.
There are plenty of other movies Obama can choose to exploit on his campaign’s behalf. He can always go with Magic Mike, since he presumably wants to strip Mitt Romney down to his undies while he gets to sit in the audience crowing. He could go with Savages, an Oliver Stone flick about criminals, albeit not white collar. He could go with Step Up: Revolution, which looks more like Step Up: Occupy.
Or he could just let us watch our movies in peace, rather than trying to pervert their characters and messages to fit his egocentric view of the world. After all, that’s what Batman is really about – going about his business without worrying about getting the credit.
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