The Thinking 

On the Inevitability of Dark Knights in Today’s World

July 20, 2012



Our society produces demonically violent entertainment, and avidly consumes demonically violent entertainment. Is anyone going to claim that he’s “shocked” that members of our society frequently commit demonically violent acts?

Here, by Jenny McCartney at the Telegraph, is a description of the 2008 movie The Dark Knight, the predecessor of just-opened The Dark Knight Rises, which an audience in Aurora, Colorado was watching last night when an armed man burst into the theater in body armor and proceeded to shoot about 65 people, killing 14 of them. Can we honestly say that people who go to see such movies are innocent? Can we honestly say that the people who were murdered while watching such a movie were merely innocent victims?

Our attitude to violence is beyond a joke as new Batman film, The Dark Knight, shows

… If I were the parent who relented and took a 10-year-old child to see The Dark Knight, would I be sorry? Once again, you bet I would. It’s different from other superhero films, as fans are quick to point out. Certainly, there are surprises in its swooping camera angles and darkened, ominous screen.

But the greatest surprise of all—even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic—has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.

I will attempt to confine my plot spoilers to the opening: the film begins with a heist carried out by men in sinister clown masks. As each clown completes a task, another shoots him point-blank in the head. The scene ends with a clown—The Joker—stuffing a bomb into a wounded bank employee’s mouth.

After the murderous clown heist, things slip downhill. A man’s face is filleted by a knife, and another’s is burned half off. A man’s eye is slammed into a pencil. A bomb can be seen crudely stitched inside another man’s stomach, which subsequently explodes. A trussed-up man is bound to a chair and set alight atop a pile of banknotes.

A plainly terrorised child is threatened at gunpoint by a man with a melted face. It is all intensely realistic. Oh but don’t worry, folks: there isn’t any nudity.

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