The Dark Knight Rises (spoilers ahead)

One of the things I planned on doing when I started this blog was including reviews of books, movies, music, and pretty much anything else I thought was worth some time. It’s a piece of my blog I’ve neglected, but tonight, having just seen The Dark Knight Rises, I feel it’s time to revisit this idea.

There’s a lot of darkness hanging over this movie. In addition to the general shadows hanging over the trilogy for its heavy theming and the untimely death of perhaps its best performer, this movie, especially for Coloradans, calls to mind the tragic events of July 20 of this year. Not to mention, the movie features the explosion and near atomic bombing of Gotham, a city generally accepted as representing New York City. That, despite the fact that nearly eleven years have passed, is still a raw nerve for this country.

In some ways, perhaps this movie deserves its darkness; the “comic book movie” had much more truth in it than I could have expected. At its center is a brutal class warfare, where power of the city is supposedly handed to “the people,” a nebulous body that apparently includes anyone but the rich, the powerful, or the comfortable. In truth, Bane doesn’t need that bomb. All he needs is to watch Gotham City destroys itself while he cuts off all help from the outside world.

It is Lord of the Flies all grown up, complete with huge guns, Wayne Enterprises tanks, execution tribunals, and the elimination of all who stop being useful (kristallnacht?). The city loses sight of the fact that Bane holds the trigger to an atom bomb that can vaporize all of them in seconds. All they remember is the hatred they hold toward one another, toward those with power and means and high positions.

There is, of course, much more to the movie than this. But this is the powerful and deeply unsettling society that The Dark Knight Rises reveals. Why were Bane and Tate so terrifying? Because all they really had to do was stand back and watch. Because the reactor core wasn’t the only time bomb. With law enforcement and outside pressure cut off, Gotham forgot all about the villains assailing it and instead began attacking itself.

Another darkness hangs over this movie, and it seems to me that this darkness is the somberness associated with facing a truth that is not only uncomfortable, but perhaps even horrifying. The hatred and class warfare in The Dark Knight Rises are not Gotham’s; they’re ours.

How much time and energy do we spend hating the rich or the powerful or the famous or the privileged? How much of our media and entertainment focus on the depravity and corruption of those in higher stations than ours? How much do we loathe and jeer and resent the politicians and the billionaires and the stock brokers? How often do we comment with disgust that something is for “Wall Street,” not “Main Street”?

Like Gotham, we have lost sight of our larger problems. We are not each other’s enemies. We are all capable of running into the street and looting houses and cheering the execution sentencing of a heroic police chief. We are all equally capable of burying our uniforms and going into hiding when our city needs us. As Miranda Tate so eloquently put it, “Innocent is a heavy word to throw around Gotham.”

It should not be ourselves we fight against when there are problems so much bigger than our own hatred. There is none innocent; let he who has not sinned throw the first stone.

But between the stone in your hand and an atomic bomb, which would you be more worried about?

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