Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cops Murdered; Women Terrorized by Knives; A Pencil Jammed in Someone's Head -- That's Entertainment?

David N. Bass seems to have liked the new film Batman: The Dark Knight. However, in this column in the American Spectator, he does emphasize what many reviewers are refusing to candidly acknowledge; namely, the film's ecstatic use of violence, terror (rather than simple tension), sadism and blood-dripping gore.

Here's a few of Bass' remarks:

...A gangster gets a pencil jammed in his skull. A main character's face catches on fire, leaving a charred hunk of flesh. Multiple cops get dispatched via shotgun and handgun, and a few courtesy of the sadistic Joker and his collection of cutlery. Nary a scene goes by where somebody doesn't have a gun to his head or knife to his jugular. Even Batman himself, viewed by kids the world over as a staunch defender of truth and justice, shrugs off the shining knight mantle and breaks a few legs (literally) to get the information he wants.

Simply put, this is not your granddaddy's comic book.

That's why I was surprised to see so many kids in the theatre. And when I say kids, I mean kids -- three or four year-olds, little pups who still can't tie their shoes. By the end of the film's first hour (during which the Joker racks up quite a few kills), I had to wonder why these parents hadn't escorted their children out, maybe to see Pixar's Wall-E on the neighboring screen.

Then I realized the kids were there because the moviemakers wanted them there, and the parents were only too willing to oblige. Following in the turbid tradition of advertising violent movies to youth, the toy stores are full of Dark Knight paraphernalia, much of it recommended for children as young as two. Families walk right into the marketing trap, buying the toys and tickets without bothering to check the content of the film.

That's tragic...

It's not child abuse to tell your kids they can't see that movie about the psychopathic clown who likes to knife people. No, kids are not resilient. Yes, they are impressionable. They'll remember that nightmarish man with the caked-on makeup long after The Dark Knight is reduced to the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.

Maybe parents should think about that before buying tickets.

And I would add that many more reviewers, particularly the Christian ones who have soft-peddled the unreasonably extreme violence of Batman: The Dark Knight, should think about what they've encouraged people to see.

And, unlike others who are worried about the impact of such a violent movie, I'm not talking about kids alone. As you might remember from this post earlier in the week (one which seemed to attract a lot of attention), I'm also concerned about the sinister, conscience-dulling effects that violent, amoral schlock has on adults.