69 years ago today, in Detective Comics #27, a hero was introduced to the world.
Happy Birthday, Batman!
To honor his birthday, you should make an effort to endanger the life of a young child today. Either that, or take the law into your own hands and capture a criminal for the police. Your choice.
Explains why JC’s screen test question was this. What to Lee Meriweather, Eartha Kitt, Julie Newmar and Michelle Pfeiffer have in common? ( besides the fact that they are not dead and are actresses.)
I like the fact that even though Halle Berry could also be included in this list, 3 of the above actually worked with the same heroic leading man.
Batman: what is the motive behind the idea that a wealthy socialite would find it entertaining to run around in a disguise to combat evil in his native city?
Why didn’t he do the Blomberg thing and just run for the mayorship?
What, a joker? Somehow, beneath this mask, we see the idea of the city political structure. Caped and crusading against the “mythologized” evil corruptions of the big city political machines, all of them, in that era being loose alliances of various ethnic minorities, chief of which, in the MidWest, was the great Daley machine of Chicago and the similarly great Pendergast machine of Kansas City.
Batman implicitly taught the burgeoning Republican legions in the incipient suburbs yet to come that “you can’t fight city hall” fairly, by following the due process of law, under the rule of law. Hence, the suburbs were founded upon the idea of excluding politics from the community, by excluding the sources of corruption — namely, poor and uneducated people who could not be expected to serve the noble “public interests” but only their own “narrow” self-interests, their so-called “class interests”, as if the people who have no class might recognize their commonality and form a class that would actually oppose those who supposed themselves to be the upper class of an allegedly class-less society.
(Ah, I should rewrite that long bitter sentence, to break its propositions down, into smaller bites.)
Batman? A subliminal agent of the Aristocracy. He directs attention away from the very facts of his own wealth, as if it were not really there, as some sort of oppressive wage system, where leaders rake off a fat percentage off of the cream of the revenues streams, and slop the cash cows with the remains.
Why can’t a superhero be a poor man — living in poverty — perhaps like the fabled Robin Hood? (But, of course, RH is a restoration story, of how a noble man is wrongly ousted from rightful possession of his Landed Estates, by corrupt, usurpatious leaders — ie “nobility” remains an inalienable birth-right — the Lockean thesis that all just mortal power derives only from descent from kings divinely appointed.)
(This is not to say I did not read Batman comics, when I was young. Nor did I miss exposure to Green Lantern, AquaMan, SuperMan (SuperWoman, Xena, Supergirl, Superboy), the League of Justice, and so on…)
But, unlearning the implicit lessons of fantasies is the struggle common to modern man, in all cultures, and maybe ever is.
Hollywood romances, for instance, hardly ever involve two poor people, truly living life “As Good As It Gets”, which is never very good, but survivable until it gets finally you down and kills you. At best, it seems, those romances are stories on the simple plot linbe that there is some deserving poor person who is found to be beautiful by some slob of a rich person — such as in “Happily Ever After”, a Drew Barrymore flick — or in “Pretty Woman” or “Sabrina” — who then pursues the “unobtainable” virtue of the poor person, becoming a better person in the process. The myth of the goodness of the poor person, as being superior to that of some rich person, thrills the masses — but is quite contrary to the actual facts of how the wealthy do, in fact, see themselves, as entitled people — entitled to the best, entitled to their wealth.
(And, even the nauseating contemporary poll results show us this: that some 65+% of the public opposes reinstitution of a meaningful Capital Gains tax and some (other?) 65+% of the same public fears that the Democrats will raise taxes (too much?) if they win in the fall. The fear of taxes rising too much is due to the public’s belief in the simple myth that higher taxes means less economic growth, for they have bought into the Republican lie that economic growth requires low taxes, wholesale. The truth about taxation is that the response of the economy to taxation levels, rising or falling, depends more complexly on the incidence of the taxes raised and the total spending that is supported. But, the people, the poor people, can’t do the math — and the rich are not about to see them educated, properly. Public spending is not necessarily wasteful, just as it is not always necessary nor proper nor even helpful to people alleged to be the beneficiaries of that spending.)
Reason is best kept far from fantasy, indeed.
Economic justice, in a society? Let’s see you fight for that Batman.