Andrew Klavan, bastion of subtext, calls ‘Knight’ pro-Bush

Posted by · 6:07 pm · July 25th, 2008

Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dark KnightThe first I heard of this Andrew Klavan op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal was over at Awards Daily. I blew off the pathetic stretch for a parallel between Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and the disastrous administration of George W. Bush as just that, pathetic. This is, after all, the author of such seminally vacant thrillers as “True Crime” and “Don’t Say a Word” we’re talking about.

Then I noticed Rupert Murdoch pop up on Keith Olbermann’s list of the “worst people in the world” in response to the mogul’s paper publishing the piece this week, and I figured I would give it a closer look.

Good GOD what moronic copy. A taste of the absurdity:

…like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.

That’s right, he brings up the old (and equally stupid) “‘300’ is an allegory for the Bush administration” stand-by from over a year ago.

Oh, you want some more? By all means:

The moment filmmakers take on the problem of Islamic terrorism in realistic films, suddenly those values vanish. The good guys become indistinguishable from the bad guys, and we end up denigrating the very heroes who defend us. Why should this be?

The answers to these questions seem to me to be embedded in the story of “The Dark Knight” itself: Doing what’s right is hard, and speaking the truth is dangerous. Many have been abhorred for it, some killed, one crucified.

Alright, dear readers. Shake it off. I know the sheer ignorance is both deafening and infuriating. The sad thing is, Klavan has a thesis worth exploring in there somewhere. That it is buried in this partisan hogwash and sublimely inadequate reasoning within such a staunchly pro-conservative view point ironically reflects the very direct approach of liberal-minded filmmaking he’s apparently railing against. But you already knew that. You’re smarter than this…guy.

Oh, but don’t blink, or you’ll miss Klaven stumble right past the entire point of “The Dark Knight” on the way to missing it completely, and manipulating it to his own ends:

As Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon says of the hated and hunted Batman, “He has to run away — because we have to chase him.” That’s real moral complexity. And 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…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.

Wow, right? Then there’s this blurb at the bottom of the page:

Mr. Klavan has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. His new novel, “Empire of Lies” (An Otto Penzler Book, Harcourt), is about an ordinary man confronting the war on terror.

Can’t wait to see how morally complex that piece of shit will be. Now, I need to go to out to the driveway and grab my sun-faded copy of the Journal so that I can burn it properly.

(Mr. Nolan — if you happen to be reading this — I implore you to rebut this nonsense in your own op-ed.)

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 7-25-2008 at 9:29 pm

    Andre said...

    the shock from reading that bullcrap op-ed has me opening my eyes so wide, I’m concerned they’re gonna fall off their sockets.

    and then people wonder why everyone thinks conservatives are insane. between this and ann coulter, it almost looks like the american Right is out to destroy itself.

  • 2 7-25-2008 at 10:10 pm

    Frank Lee said...

    The reactions to this op-ed remind me of the reaction my friend had after we went to see “Wall-E.” I commented to him that I thought the preachy pro-enviromentalist, anti-corporate message a distraction, and he insisted that I was overreading the film. “There was no political message,” he assured me. “It’s just a children’s movie.” How far does this denial of the obvious go? Pretty far if you insist that “300” was not a comment on the current threat posed by Oriental barbarians (many of whom are from Persia) bent on destroying Western democracy (which originated in Greece). Was “Logan’s Run” not meant to comment on our own youth-obsessed culture? Is “Fatal Attraction” not to be read in the context of AIDS (one infidelity, and your health and safety–and your wife’s health and safety–could be threatened)? Was “The Matrix” not a critique of our unknowing enslavement to corporate culture? If you believe this op-ed writer has misread the movie, then make a reasoned case against his reading. Or just ignore it, if you think he’s done a truly terrible job. But I don’t see the point of calling him names without providing counter-arguments to the points he raises.

  • 3 7-25-2008 at 11:31 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    It’s not pro-Bush of course, it’s fully anti. Batman has a conscience. Bush does not.

  • 4 7-26-2008 at 7:46 am

    Michael said...

    Well, Frank Lee, you seem to be able to find a conservative message in every film, and I can’t decide whether it’s amusing or disturbing. I certainly find your view of Muslims to be interesting, and calling them “Oriental barbarians” well coincides with your idiotic view of the religion as all centered on destroying Western democracy, which is essentially saying that all of Christianity represents the ideals presented by the KKK. And, actually, 300 was based on real events, if you can believe that the writers didn’t actually invent the scenario of Greeks fighting Persians, who incidentally were only called Barbarians because they were not Greek, and not because they were unintelligent. And 300 was not a sociopolitical movie, actually, it favored style and action over any kind of subtext at all; saying that was the message of 300 is like saying Troy was a message on the Civil War. Fatal Attraction, also, did not have any kind of message about AIDS, although you certainly seem to have well convinced yourself of all of these moronic “themes.” The Matrix had metaphors to Buddhist legend, if you can believe that a Hollywood movie might have possibly had parellels to something outside the realms of our own country. I also find it interesting how you talk about Muslims with such unfounded hatred because of their desire to “destroy democracy,” one of the basic fundamentals of which is freedom of speech, and yet you say if we don’t like an article, we should ignore it, instead of writing our own rebuttal to something we vehemently disagree with. Is that enough counter-arguments to the points you raise?

  • 5 7-26-2008 at 8:56 am

    Andre said...

    the pro-environment message in Wall-E is a DISTRACTION? yeah, screw the earth let’s NOT teach kids anything about taking care of our planet!

    it’s funny, when a film is clearly making a point you don’t agree with, the message is “distracting” and “preachy”, but when an article that is CLEARLY reaching WAAAAY too far to present a hackneyed interpretation of another film that presents a view of it that is more aligned with your own conservative ideologies you agree with it no questions asked.


  • 6 7-26-2008 at 11:52 am

    degahse said...

    As the king of an amoral universe, as a purveyor of unrestricted evil for fun, Ledger’s dastardly villain, attired as sort of a rotting Clarabell, has chosen his own damnation. He’s jumped into an abyss he has dug himself, and he wants to pull us along.
    I m watched The Dark Knight Movies Here

  • 7 7-26-2008 at 6:40 pm

    Jeff said...

    Well Kris, there are parallels, however tenuous they are (or in how much in bad taste they are). But you can’t praise Batman fully and bash Dubya at the same time (not to say you in particular, just you as a general term). That scene with Morgan Freeman confirms this. I think Sasha Stone over at AwardsDaily has had the best take on this whole story.

  • 8 7-26-2008 at 8:36 pm

    Jeff said...

    personally, though there are parallels, I do not condone politicizing of art, conservative or liberal, because the message of art is generally so universal. appreciate the film for its aesthetic beauty, not its politics. I was just saying that politics can be drawn.

  • 9 7-26-2008 at 11:56 pm

    Frank Lee said...


    Throwing around words like bigot (and even idiotic and moronic) when someone says something you disagree with pretty much kills discussion. I don’t see the point of it, unless the point is in fact to kill discussion. By the way, neither the author of “300” nor I imply that all Muslims are bent on destroying Western democracy (though it would be nice if the non-violent Muslims, the vast majority, would speak up and shame their violent co-religionists more effectively). The parallel the author of “300” suggests (or, if you insist, the parallel that I detected) is between the Persian army in the movie and the Muslim terrorists of today. The Greeks would have seen the Persian soldiers as barbarians, and I should hope that we can agree that terrorism is barbaric.


    To your point about how receptive I am to various subtexts in the films I mentioned, I would reply that subtext, to be truly effective, needs to remain subtextual to some extent. In “Wall-E,” the message was overt (which makes it all the more strange that my friend denies it’s even there in the movie). By the way, the subtextual element in “The Matrix” that I mentioned–the implication that we are unaware of our own enslavement to corporate culture–is the 0pposite of conservative. And I find the implications of “Logan’s Run” (we are youth-obsessed) and “Fatal Attraction” (AIDS makes infidelity potentially fatal) apolitical, but still interesting and reflective of something in our culture at present.

  • 10 7-28-2008 at 7:05 pm

    Frank Jones said...

    Typical lefty responses – hollow and weak. Calling him pathetic and absurd is hardly constructive critisim. Shout louder and your opinion will be BETTER?

  • 11 7-28-2008 at 7:47 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Calling this piece pathetic and absurd is doing nothing beyond stating the obvious. And mine is not a partisan response, it’s a reaction to the biggest stretch for political correlation I think I’ve ever read.

    I think 99.9% of anyone reading the piece would get that, but I appreciate that you’re…unique.

  • 12 9-17-2008 at 11:19 pm

    Phantom said...

    I think the Joker said it best when he asked, “…why so serious?!”

    My personal response to that op-ed is: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • 13 6-13-2009 at 12:53 am

    Two Brains said...

    You bash the op-ed, but you don’t really make any counter points. Rather than making a bunch of insults, why not try and construct an actual argument against the op-ed?

  • 14 1-27-2010 at 11:48 am

    Fitz said...

    The film itself defutes the point: Morgan Freeman’s character, Batman destroys it all in the end.

    President Bush let the trampling of civil rights continue and never stopped it, or presumed it to be anything but his power over the country. If he had any moral qualms about it you certainly would never know.

  • 15 7-07-2014 at 12:37 am

    Susan said...

    I like it when individuals get together and share thoughts. Great blog, stick with it!