Midway through a matinee viewing of The Dark Knight Rises, I had a sinking feeling that many progressives would interpret it as a conservative film. It’s the most obvious reading. In a thinly veiled reference to Occupy Wall Street, the main villain, Bane, spouts facile leftist slogans about “equality” and “the people,” and the only man who can conquer him and save the city is billionaire Bruce Wayne.
As a kid I consumed fiction like a ravenous beast. I swallowed whole whatever came my way, from Tolstoy to Heinlein, Michener to Eugene O'Neill. My fiction addiction kept up for years, dragging me through Trollope, Muriel Spark, Colson Whitehead, Dickens, Murakami, Russell Banks, Christina Stead, Alice Munro, W.G. Sebald, Chang-Rae Lee, and hundreds of others. I have always profoundly wanted to see the world through everyone else's eyes: What does it feel like to be someone else, in another part of the world, facing the unimaginable? Since most people have trouble articulating their deepest experiences, even reporters don't necessarily get to hear what others feel. Great fiction has always seemed the best way to peer into others' joys and horrors.
I can't help wondering how many politicos—and long-suffering political spouses, too—are secretly hooked on HBO's sexy, hugely entertaining Game of Thrones, whose very lively second season kicks off Sunday. Not because they can identify, mind you. It's just hard not to imagine them envying their fantasy equivalents in George R.R. Martin's brutally uninhibited realm.
It was back during Pat Buchanan's bumptious 1996 primary campaign that my better half glanced up from CNN with a bemused look on her face. "You know what this is about?" she asked. "Little boys in this country used to dream about growing up to run for president. Now they just run for president."
At first glance, building a moon-sized battle station seems incredibly expensive. A few students at Leigh University calculated that, assuming the mass/volume ratio of an aircraft carrier, a Death Star would cost $852 quadrillion, or 13,000 times the world’s GDP.
For Batman fans, this past week was a big one. In addition to the release of Arkham City – the sequel to Arkham Asylum, the world’s greatest Batman simulator – DC released its animated adaptation of Batman: Year One, the Frank Miller-penned story that would define Batman for the next two decades, and form the basis for Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of the character. Here’s a trailer:
Over at Transom, a site showcasing interesting things going on in public radio, Ira Glassexplains what makes Radiolab such a terrific program, which is kind of like having Ted Williams explain to you what makes Joe DiMaggio a great hitter. Here he is talking about a one-minute introduction to a segment on the program, particularly the way the co-hosts, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich, talk to each other:
Over at Alyssa Rosenberg’s blog, a post about the class differences between heroes and villains has become a thread over Batman and his methods. In particular, the commenters are working through one particular question: Is Batman crazy?
As the argument goes, it’s not that Batman is insane, per say, but that he has a monomaniacal focus on justice that manifests itself as a sort of pathology, in which his life derives it’s only meaning from the pursuit of criminals.
Jacob Silverman, observing that the American superhero genre is largely is highly informed by Jewish history, argues that the problem with today's superhero blockbusters is that they've gotten away from their Heeb roots: