I asked my kids if the movie seemed to be a conservative message and if they could see a comparison with the President. They both agreed with Mr. Klavan's conclusions:
There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.Batman is a box office hit right out of the gate and is generating talk nationwide especially among the young 20- and 30-somethings. Hollywood flops when it makes anti-moral/anti-America movies ... conservatives flock to theaters when offered movies of hope and moral clarity with good winning over evil. Klavan asks:
Why is it then that left-wingers feel free to make their films direct and realistic, whereas Hollywood conservatives have to put on a mask in order to speak what they know to be the truth? Why is it, indeed, that the conservative values that power our defense -- values like morality, faith, self-sacrifice and the nobility of fighting for the right -- only appear in fantasy or comic-inspired films like "300," "Lord of the Rings," "Narnia," "Spiderman 3" and now "The Dark Knight"?When we find someone, even within our ranks, who holds a moral compass that points to right over wrong, they are often vilified much as the President has been vilified for doing what he knows is right to preserve the freedoms and, indeed, the very lives of the citizens in the country he loves.
Doing what's right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one crucified.
The true complexity arises when we must defend these values in a world that does not universally embrace them -- when we reach the place where we must be intolerant in order to defend tolerance, or unkind in order to defend kindness, or hateful in order to defend what we love.Mr. Klavan draws the following conclusion that closes his WSJ piece:
When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness.
... when our artistic community is ready to show that sometimes men must kill in order to preserve life; that sometimes they must violate their values in order to maintain those values; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- then and only then will we be able to pay President Bush his due and make good and true films about the war on terror.Maybe not heroes ... but we have knights amongst us who take up the pathway of morality and principles, and who face ridicule and contempt by those who do not understand....