May 4, 2014 By Nitesh

Batman’s Shots: The Larger Violence

denver blogSlavoj Zizek has said to the effect that when the twin towers in the US were bombed, those whose window into the outside world were only television and game consoles thought that the towers were falling on screen and the bombing was orchestrated not by the dreaded Al Qaeda but at one of the state-of-the-art studios in the Hollywood. On July 20, a gunman killed 14 people and injured 50 during the showing of the Dark Knight Rises at a cinema in the US city of Denver, Reuters reported. Incidentally, the gunman wore gas mask like Bane (Tom Hardy) in the film. The innocent victims who fell to the gunman (James Holmes) must have thought that they were being killed on screen. Holmes, an avid Batman fan, is said to have been inspired by Joker in the film. It may be the Batman which has made violence a joke for the first time in the world.

Christopher Nolan, the man behind the celluloid representation of Batman and the director of all movies in the series, has been praised much for taking technology to its extreme heights. Just watch one or two movies by him, Inception and the Prestige for instance; you will bring down the wall separating reality from the screen. You will be transported to another world facilitated by wires and the wireless gadgets. There is nothing real in his films. In a blog posted in the New Yorker, James Verni writer and senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, said that ‘Nolan’s entertainments, the best ones, anyway, are games. I don’t mean that they resemble puzzles or tricks (though they do that; too), I mean that they are most satisfying when understood as games, not as novelistic narratives.’ It is true. Unlocking the mystery in Inception is itself a game. It was Samuel Beckett and his epoch-making Waiting for Godot that taught us games can be the only thing we can do in this world devoid of meaning. In post-modernity where search for meaning is outdated, the Dark Night is God and cinemas are the paradise (or hell, as it happened in Denver).

None can gainsay the argument that the American culture is so enamored with violence that only the likes of the Dark Knight Rises can satisfy them and thanks to globalization the format of violence designed at the altar of the Hollywood spread the world over. Indeed, the state abetted the crime and tried to perpetuate it. What James Verni did is nothing compared to what the US administration is doing to the civilian population in Iraq and Afganistan. An observation of Zizek regarding Alfonos Cuaron’s Children of Men is remarkable in this context: ‘In Alfonso Cuaron’s film Children of Men, based on the PD James novel, the liberal communist village in the United Kingdom itself. It is 2027. The human race is infertile. The earth’s youngest inhabitant, born eighteen years earlier, has just been killed in Buenos Aires. The UK lives in a permanent state of emergency: anti-terrorist squads chase illegal immigrants, the state power administering a dwindling population which vegetates in sterile hedonism. Hedonist permissiveness plus new forms of social apartheid and control based on fear-are these not what our societies are now about? But here is Cuaron’s stroke of genius: ‘Many of the stories of the future involve something like Big Brother, but I think that is a twentieth century view of tyranny. The tyranny happening now is taking new disguises-the tyranny of the twenty-first century is called ‘democracy.’ (On Violence, Slavoj Zizek)  The violence the state perpetuates in the name of freedom and democracy will only be reflected in myriad versions of violence including the domestic violence and violence in the mass media.

There are links between the shooting incident and the film itself. In a feature generated by the Associate Press, the link has been explicitly narrated: The Dark Knight also Rises features at least two scenes where unsuspecting people are attacked in a public venue-the stock exchange and a football stadium.’

Where those in power maintain a system of violence, it’s difficult that society as a whole will escape from the same


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