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The Batman Problem

The Batman Problem

So I've been trying my best to understand more about structural racism, and taking a second look at elements around me that may contribute to it.

I think one of the more obvious sources that has pervaded our culture has been the portryal of the police as uncomplicated protagonists. The percent of network TV shows that are some version of "police procedural" often times seems to be 80 percent or higher.

If a police officer is portrayed poorly, odds are it is because he likes donuts or in the worst case, is a "crooked cop" who takes money from the mob.

Never do these shows mention or even hint at existence of "The Blue wall of silence", if they do it is regulated to a feature of an evil individual, such as a Sherriff in a small town in the south. Never would an entire metropoletain department be implicated, because to do so would acknowledge that the police force culture does NOT have a culture that "good guys" would have.

So I was already happy to goto war against TV pop cultural representations of police. But then I came across the following tweet, which stopped me dead:

Oh no, not Batman!

I really enjoy the "Dark Knight" iteration of "The Caped Crusader", the Nolan films being some of my favorite... But I have to concede the point to Sean Kelly here. Modern Batman is very much extrajudicial. He "gets results" when the police can't.

Say what you want about police procedural cultural crimes, who themselves, often allow their character to angrily strike out at a prisoner in frustration... But it is a rarity, whereas the major premise of Batman is that approach is "super" effective at stoppin crime.

Or put better by Mr Kelly:

Batman is a juggernaut in our culture, there are likely very few people unaffected by him as a symbol of retribution against criminals. But does it really matter?


The President's current law and order plan, and those who support it, really seem to be coming from a "magical reality" where extrajudicials powers and "looking the other way so police can do their job" are actually police policy that a *LOT* of people believe in.

As Mr Kelly points out:

Or, I'd argue, the existance of the darker gotham of the "Dark Knight" world, also fuels rural views of the city. Nolan's film were shot in Chicago, the same city that Trump describes in terms that might as well be describing fictional Gotham during its darkest times.

So where do we go from here? Mr Kelly has an idea:

I know a lot of talk right now is on "racist cops", or even in some circles "some bad apples". But the racist policy that lets these racist cops be cops is that "Blue wall of silence" of all cops keeping quiet about cops who "accidentially" shot a Person of Color while on the beat.

That needs to be the focus of the pop culture, because it is that ethos that keeps the police from being true arbiters of justice, which allows bad or even murderous behavior to go unreported and unpunished...

Because you have to ask yourself, all those little kids who idolized The Dark Knight in the 1980-200s, and wanted to be like him. What job would they do? Which is the closest to living out their fantasies of stopping criminals and being a real life hero? The "Blue wall of silences" makes a lot more sense when they see themselves as all mini-batmans, running around, "doing what needs to be done".

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Meta Information:

Title: The Batman Problem
Date posted: 07 Sep '20 - 11:00
Filed under: General
Word Count: 807 words
Good Karma: 7 (vote)
Bad Karma: 7 (vote)
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