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The Dark Knight Rises – An Ayn Rand Hero, But Christian

The point of Batman as compared to other superheroes has always been that he’s actually human.

Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne pushes the boundaries of human strength, endurance, and brilliance in all three films but in this conclusion to the trilogy the filmmaker highlights the frail side of his hero’s humanity.

A few flaws in the storyline stretch believability. Wayne spends what seems like a year or so in a prison, far away in some Eastern country, bodybuilding. He starts out with his back broken, builds himself up, gets hurt again, builds up again, and then finally escapes. But the events going on simultaneously in the outside world supposedly take roughly a month. Then he suddenly reappears in a city sealed by military force. Is this possible? Maybe, but we ought to be shown how.

My husband and I also argued about the very last scene. Is it possible this is meant as an Inception-like ending, where the viewer gets to decide whether the event shown is cannon or whether it’s merely wishful thinking/dreaming on some character’s part? We decided that the character who was viewing the event in the last scene had never seen one of the people involved in what he was seeing,  so he could not have been dreaming. This is important to understand the story.

That being the case, we were left with a further question. Does being brilliant protect you from nuclear bombs? And why are we not shown how?

So much for the flaws.

This film contains one of the best-presented betrayals in film history. At no point does someone say something like, “Oh, no – our friend has betrayed us! Our friend has been working for the enemy!” This trust in the viewer may be the good side of the impulse that left certain explanations out. One of the best characteristics of intelligent movies is that they give you enough explicitly to go forward on, but reflection into what has gone before yields further insights into the story.

One of the best explicit scenes involves the villain trying to rob a stock exchange. Outside, some policemen argue about whether it’s worth stopping a robbery that only harms rich people. “It’s not just rich people, it’s everyone,” the smarty in the scene spits out. “Well, I’ve got my money hid in my mattress,” a bloke offers. The smarty explains that the paper in the mattress could be worth far less, depending on what happens inside the stock exchange. They decide to try and stop the robbery.

Most movies and shows lately fill me with a sense of impending doom. The reason is simple – it’s as if they are following a directive: “Include some scene to increase resentment against the rich.”

As Ayn Rand’s books so clearly show, attacking those who produce wealth is the quickest way to destroy the prosperity of everyone, creating a widespread dependency on a ruling robber class. Or, as Rand would have it, “the looters.”

The Dark Knight Rises seems allied with Ayn Rand’s ideas in many particulars – there’s even a character with a name (Daggart) that seems to hint at an homage to the author’s most famous story, Atlas Shrugged. If that’s true, I have to wonder about The League of Shadows. Did Christopher Nolan feel, as I did, that destroying the innocent is no way to avenge the righteous? Nevertheless, Rand’s ideas, or ideas harmonious with hers, appear to advantage in this film – alongside a persistent reverence for the Church, which Rand despised. In this story, Bruce Wayne has always been someone of whom Ayn Rand would have been proud as a hero for her own stories. He represents a heroic and romantic humanism. But unlike Rand’s heroes, Wayne helps the helpless (who in turn become heroes, while the neglected needy become criminals.) Like Rand’s heroes, the sexuality that satisfies him is one of mutually-agreeable struggle (without Rand’s pathological penchant for rape.) But unlike Rand’s heroes, Bruce needs others – and Bruce gets old.

I can’t resist comparing Nolan and Rand in general. Rand offers some very clear thinking on the nature of injustice. She insists on justice without mercy and the only kindness she knows is that of fair trade: an eye for an eye. Her outlook is essentially that of a secular Jew. Nolan supports some similar thinking about the nature of justice and injustice. When Bruce Wayne allows Batman (who is represented as his life’s work and therefore his true self) to be blamed for someon else’s crimes, it’s a blatant act of self-sacrifice – something Ayn Rand condemns. At first the effect is good – the city gets “cleaned up” and all the crooks go to jail. However, because the city’s most brilliant, wealthy, charitable, and righteous citizen is destroyed by this act, ultimately it’s for evil, and this film spells out that evil in detail.

Thus far Rand’s principle holds true.  But Nolan goes farther and makes a very Christian argument that mercy is an essential part of justice. After all, if the child of a righteous man killed by the unjust ends up in a boy’s home, the killer’s injustice includes the bleakness of that boy’s upbringing. By contributing to that boy’s keep with his excess, the hero freely (not through constraint) counteracts the acts of injustice and produces righteousness – a boy is saved who may become city’s next Savior.

The flaw in Rand’s reasoning is that while she rightly sees buildings and railroads as rightful possibilities for a life’s work, and understands that investing in business contributes to the prosperity of  everyone, direct investment in human beings leaves her cold. That’s understandable since, to be fair, what she’s complaining of is people who co-erce “mercy” from others whether through guns (the state) or guilt (family and religion.) Nevertheless she has no vision of free strong beings succoring other beings as an act of one’s highest, freely chosen purpose.

This film, and, we realize in perspective, the other two, present that missing vision. And yet – in the end, Bruce finds what Rand insists on – no one can ultimately live for others. Whatever a hero gives, he dare not give up the self because the self is his only inalienable treasure (his wealth and physical strength can be lost) and also because only the self can love.

In the film, the boy’s home is run by a Catholic priest, hinting at the conclusion Josh and I are coming to –  namely, that Ayn Rand’s justice is the only possible basis for society and that Christian mercy is the purview of the Church, not the State. To be frank, it even calls into question whether the State as an entity rightfully exists. Young Conservatives are sometimes characterized as resenting government. Government as a human act of governing oneself and one’s responsibilities and one’s dependents is very different from the modern institution of the State.

Others are talking competently of the artistry of this film, which is considerable. The soundtrack, although it does not equal a John Williams style symphonic soundtrack that could stand alone, is certainly iconic and seems to have a knack for obtruding at the right moments. Many have complained that Anne Hathaway was not “right” for Catwoman – but that is to completely misunderstand the role of Catwoman in this movie, which is defined once and for all in the final scene.


My Favorite Protein Smoothie Can Smooth Out the Day for Women With ADHD

Sambazon’s Protein Acai Berry + Chocolate Superfood Smoothie

Until this protein smoothie became unavailable in my local area (to my knowledge) I more or less lived off of it. I drank it every day for breakfast and sometimes had it for a snack or second meal.

When I started my day with this smoothie, it seemed like there was a subjective probability of my day going about 75% better than when I didn’t.

I can instantly tell the difference between this smoothie and others I’ve tried. I’m not exactly sure what the difference consists of, but it tastes cleaner. The protein isn’t gritty, as if I’d mixed it myself from a powder, and it doesn’t have that iron taste you get in smoothies with added vitamins. It’s pretty much just acai, chocolate, whey and soy protein, milk, and sugar. It strikes a balance between giving instant energy and spreading the effect out for the rest of the day.

The mix of the elements seems to be magic.

I would suggest that this smoothie is especially helpful for women and those with ADHD. Most people with ADHD need extra protein during the day because of the amino acid deficiencies that seem to go with the condition for the vast majority of sufferers. ADHD is a neurological disorder, and because many “healthy” products are irritating to the nervous system for various reasons (wrongly processed soy, or additives for instance) they may hurt and help at the same time. That’s not my experience with this Sambazon product. The protein clears my head up all day long, getting rid of that desperately-hungry-no-matter-how-much-I-eat feeling that usually plagues me. The chocolate adds a little caffeine for a small stimulant spark that doesn’t overwhelm. And the acai seems to calm my whole system down or clean it up or something. Not a nutritionist, sorry – just a satisfied customer.

Many grocery stores sell Sambazon products but may not necessarily have this one.

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