Actual US Intelligence surveillance side by side with The Dark Knight surveillance scene.
We had just finished watching Dark Knight, with new eyes (after being awakened by InfoWars and its ilk), when we completely coincidentally ran across this picture. I was hoping Jay’s Analysis, my new obsession, had done an esoteric analysis (in the vein of his excellent Snowpiercer review, which puts mine to shame), but alas, he has only reviewed the first and third installments of the series. Dark Knight would be an interesting one to review, because I can’t help but think that Joker’s character was meant to represent and demonize the figureheads of the Liberty movement (in their eyes, Agents of Chaos).
Oh wait: Looks like on Jay’s website he did have a contributing writer cover Dark Knight in depth.
On the left of the above picture, you see the screen apparatus from Peter Thiel–owned Palantir’s surveillance devices, which according to Business Insider were “developed with the idea that had it existed in 2001, 9/11 would have been obvious. Palantir would have been able to identify the pilots as people of interest from countries that harbor terrorists, connecting that with money wired around, and connecting that with one-way airline tickets to create actionable intelligence.” Looks eerily similar to the sonar application created by Batman in the Dark Knight. This, like the sonar apparatus, is how, according to Alfred, you “burn da forest down” to find the jewel thief in Burma.
This was, of course, 2009, before the Snowden whistleblowing. The scene would be what they call “predictive programming,” getting us all ready for revelations that would come to pass in due time. This is a big one, I’d say. I didn’t think anything of this scene when I first saw it. It seemed plausible, but I never thought it would happen. Even if it did happen, I probably didn’t feel too strongly about it back then. I didn’t even remember this scene when the whole Snowden thing went down. Now, watching it again, I just get livid.
Thank goodness for the moral compass that was Lucius Fox, who threatened resignation “as long as this device exists,” referring to the sonar network. However, I couldn’t help but notice the glamorization in the employment of it by our caped crusader. His eyes were flashing bright blue as he navigated (not unlike the Batman of the Arkham games on PS3/Xbox360) deftly through a video game–like landscape of pinging blippy figures that he could see through walls, kicking their butts and taking all sorts of names.
I also couldn’t help but notice how compelling it was that he had to neutralize the SWAT team who was assisting the raid (that’s right, Batman fighting the police) in a desperate attempt to stop them from targeting the innocent hostages bound and forced by Joker to masquerade as clownsters. This, my friends, was a stroke of genius. Are the Brothers Nolan referencing the blatant use, in the past, present, and future, of civilians as pawns in the terrorism/counterterrorism game of post-911 America? Big duh. But yes, I don’t mean to undermine how profound this imagery is. I can’t stop thinking about it. Not only is he implying our use as pawns, but also our involvement in the actual warfare, our demonization and victimization for getting involved, and our sheer helplessness in being gagged, masked, and placed, with guns duct-taped to our hands. The Nolans definitely have a soft spot for the every-man. Apparently, like the Joker, it’s the “schemers” they’re after.
Last little parallel (before I read the analysis of Jay). Harvey Dent says near the end, as he’s exacting revenge on those who betrayed him when he left the county clink where Joker should’ve been locked up and harmless, “The Joker’s just a mad dog. I want whoever let him off the leash.” I was distinctly reminded of what Alex Jones constantly says about Al-Qaeda being “black widows released into someone’s bed to kill them. They didn’t train the black widows, but they were the ones that let ’em out to kill people. That’s basically murder.”
Obvious parallel, I know, but let me take it a step further. Who does Harvey Dent represent? Well, he could be any one of us with good intentions. Someone could push us over the edge at any time, and then our purity, innocence, and righteousness will mean nothing. We have to resist tyranny, but we have to do it without the devil pushing us to do horrible things in vengeance and retaliation, destroying us and our message in the process.
By the way: Is Batman a representation of the Devil, comparable to the same in Milton’s Paradise Lost? I would have never bought it until I heard the following. Listen to this cheaply made but incredibly profound analysis of the Dark Knight.