I loved, Loved, LOVED “The Dark Knight!” In my opinion, Christian Bale is the ultimate Batman (sorry George) and the late Heath Ledger was phenomenal as the Joker. Of the Batman movies I have seen, I thought it was the best; so, I was amped for this summer’s release of “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Like many people I am sure, I entered the cinema this past weekend with a mix of emotions. My heart was heavy for the victims and their families in Aurora, Colorado; as a result of the shooting, I was a little on edge and extra observant of my surroundings – especially when people got up during the movie; and yet, I was totally excited for what was about to unfold on screen and pleased that I had not spoken with anyone who saw the movie nor had I read any reviews beforehand.
Had I done either, I wouldn’t have been surprised by the movie’s dystopian view of our economy or its portrayal of our country’s complicated relationship with wealth.
I left the cinema thinking about two books: Octavia E. Butler’s sci-fi novel – “Parable of the Sower” and Philip Gerard’s historical fiction – “Cape Fear Rising.” The former is set in a future world where the government has collapsed, unable to address the chaos that is a result of “unattended environmental and economic crises;” the latter is based on real-life events during the late 1800’s (during Reconstruction) in Wilmington, North Carolina where a community of affluent blacks were massacred because of their wealth, by white residents of the same community. (Similar events happened in the 1920’s in Tulsa, Oklahoma – in an area referred to as the “Black Wall Street” and in a self-sustaining neighborhood in Rosewood, Florida.)
In case you haven’t seen the movie yet, but plan to, I won’t spoil anything by talking about the plot. However, I will say that while I thought the movie was good it was no where near as great as “The Dark Knight.”
Instead, I want to focus on why I believe “The Dark Knight Rises” is the perfect prompt for asking the harder questions we seem to avoid when it comes to wealth and class, and, yes, even race.
Scarcity vs. Abundance: The Ultimate Battle
The movie presents an extreme, visual example of what happens when there is a misguided notion that your abundance takes away from mine and vice versa. Like others of its type, the movie pits the classic battle of “good vs. evil” – aka “abundance vs. scarcity.” Watching these two forces fight for dominance on screen (and ultimately in our hearts and minds as well), I couldn’t help but think of the 2012 U.S. presidential election campaign.
Even though I am fairly certain the production of this film wrapped long before the current election season, the film mirrors the social and economic issues of the campaign to a “T.”
Are rich people “bad” because they have wealth?
Are poor people “good” because they don’t have or have little money?
Are your intentions only good if your suffering is like my suffering?
Does my having a dollar (or $10, $100, etc.) mean I’m taking money away from you, or preventing you from getting yours?
On the surface, these are actually simple questions. So much so that their profoundness gets lost. But they are actually the harder questions we need to ask because of what happens in the process of answering them — when all the hidden muck is unveiled.
If we took the time to honestly engage in a discourse about the simple, but harder questions (and there are certainly more to be asked than what is noted above), we just might be able to uproot our true fears behind how and why we engage with each other as we do. And, we just might be able to heal our country’s complicated relationship with money and wealth and prevent a dystopian end of our society.
Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, what do you think: Do you believe our culture has a complicated relationship with wealth? Let me know in the comments section.
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