04-06-2011, 12:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Re: Visceral Batman Essays
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After the critical and financial success of Miller's run on Batman, The movie studios believed that the character would be great for a full length feature film. The studios then were able to get Tim Burton to make a Batman film which one might think was a great idea as the character would lend himself to the gothic taste of the director. And although the version of the character differs a bit from the Miller take on the character, the interpretation is still very intelligent and darkly comedic.
Duel of the Freaks
Tim Burton is a nihilist to some degree. He does not believe in God or any higher moral order to things. This aspect shows through his work on both batman and other works he has done. In his book Burton on Burton, Burton states "the whole film and mythology of the character is a complete duel of the freaks. It's a fight between two disturbed people." He continued, "The Joker is such a great character because there's a complete freedom to him. Any character who operates on the outside of society and is deemed a freak and an outcast then has the freedom to do what they want... They are the darker sides of freedom. Insanity is in some scary way the most freedom you can have, because you're not bound by the laws of society." Burton was describing what the dark side of freedom is. To him the only law you can take it upon to enforce is a law made up to ensure a way of life that you enjoy. Which would mean that only the powerful are aware of the lie. The lie is that there is no reason to follow rules that other people made up, there is no higher moral law that the law is trying to adhere to. Therefore, the salvation that the law promises will never come. There is no equilibrium within society, just a constant static evolution and change.
Thus the law is both just a way for people toi interact and the powerful to maintain their control. Burton is painting the Joker and Batman as two people who exist outside of society, but are able to control it through the power that they attain in their separation from it. It is a very Neitzchian touch to the film. Not satisfied with societies ability to make life comfortable for them they reject its fakeness and lies. Even their appearance seems to mock society. The Joker believes society to be a big joke. He believes that everyone is wearing a mask. He makes jokes about this by poisoning the hygiene products of Gotham so that people can see each other as they truly are. He defaces beautiful women to show them how shallow and empty they really are inside. The Joker kills policemen and crime lords out in the open showing them their power is meaningless and that we are all just as mortal as each other. He uses money to kill the citizens in the midst of their greed.
The Batman is the only person who he really finds interesting. Batman wears a mask to show his true face. Batman is like him aware of the falseness society presents. The Joker seeks to destroy the Batman not just because he represents order and the Joker loves anarchy. Instead, Batman is seeking to protect the society that Joker wants to change and face the truth, and so Joker needs to eradicate Batman.
The empowerment that comes from realizing the truth turns both the Joker and Batman into totalitarians. Though the two do not associate with a political party they do impose onto society their own rule. The commentary here seems to suggest that anyone who takes it upon themselves to usurp power from those that have it take it upon themselves to be the ones in that dictating position. Thus the fight between Batman and the Joker isn't merely one of good and evil but one of control over the city. These tow powerful forces cannot occupy the same space. There is another deep motivation for this fight besides that of revenge for the creation of each other.
The whole film is motivated by male dominated sexual empowerment. Burton is keeping with nihilistic tradition that someone cannot have power and not have it be connected to their sexuality. If you have the ability to do whatever you want then you have the ability to have whoever you want. Freud would say that Batman's vengeance is motivated by the loss of the maternal figure and then the fight to control Gotham would be to protect all of the remaining maternal figures. Burton I think takes it in a step toward his directorial tendencies. His film Edward scissor hands was a film about what he called a High School Fantasy in an obvious Gothic setting. Batman is also commentary on the social dynamic we continue to see in high school and after.
It's Burton on machismo. The two stags occupying the same space have to fight. the entire film is basically a fight over a woman. A blonde haired woman. Throughout the film there are many allusions to the fact that Batman and the Joker take what they want, even alluding to rape. Batman does take that film out of her blouse without asking. The Joker on the other hand is constantly trying to murder Batman who also happens to be Bruce Wayne. Bruce is the man dating Vicki Vale, who bears a striking resemblance to the woman he was set up over.
What is interesting is that Burton seems to show that the relationship, or the mission to destroy one another is far more important than the girl that they are fighting over. The blond haired woman is every bit the trophy woman of stereotype. Once the Joker killed Grissom his old boss and then retook the woman he was almost killed over, he simply discarded her in chase of a new prize. This is why I find it so interesting that Vicki is not seen with Bruce in the final scene, instead she is completely obsessed over him while he is over his mission.
This continued quest to find peace cannot be quelled by a single woman no matter how much she resembled the maternal figure Bruce lost. It is a constant void that hungers in him. Its like nihilism, there is no reason to continue the fruitless quest but he does so anyway.
"Liberal fathers create radical sons..."
Last edited by Visceral; 04-06-2011 at 12:15 AM.