Now go read Aaron's extremely excellent essay below.
Regarding Caleb's thoughts - at the time we recorded episode 6a, I didn't know how I felt about that either, because I hadn't even noticed it. But you are absolutely right, it is there, and it needs to be recognized, and it goes a long way towards explaining my "why can't they just get this fucking guy!" frustration with the Joker. It is an absolute testament to the skill of Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhardt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale that they were able to pull me into a world where I was capable of feeling such feelings. It is a testament to their brilliance that they were able to do so without me even noticing.
4.) I reeeaaalllly wasn’t expecting to see Batman-as-the-Bush-administration in this movie, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about that.
There seems to me no question that the Batman film "The Dark Knight," currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.There have been several points over the course of the last seven and a half years where I've seen something subtle in something bombastic - something I'm probably not supposed to see, and something that worries me greatly. Back in January of 2002, when President Bush coined the term "Axis of Evil" to describe the unholy trinity of North Korea, Iraq and Iran, I cringed. Not because it was proof that we'd get little other than cowboy diplomacy out of this man, but because of the imagery conjured by that phrase.
When heroes arise who take those difficult duties on themselves, it is tempting for the rest of us to turn our backs on them, to vilify them in order to protect our own appearance of righteousness. We prosecute and execrate the violent soldier or the cruel interrogator in order to parade ourselves as paragons of the peaceful values they preserve. 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; and that while movie stars may strut in the bright light of our adulation for pretending to be heroes, true heroes often must slink in the shadows, slump-shouldered and despised -- 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.
According to British lawyer and writer Philippe Sands, Jack Bauer—played by Kiefer Sutherland—was an inspiration at early "brainstorming meetings" of military officials at Guantanamo in September of 2002. Diane Beaver, the staff judge advocate general who gave legal approval to 18 controversial new interrogation techniques including water-boarding, sexual humiliation, and terrorizing prisoners with dogs, told Sands that Bauer "gave people lots of ideas." Michael Chertoff, the homeland-security chief, once gushed in a panel discussion on 24 organized by the Heritage Foundation that the show "reflects real life."
John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who produced the so-called torture memos—simultaneously redefining both the laws of torture and logic—cites Bauer in his book War by Other Means. "What if, as the popular Fox television program '24' recently portrayed, a high-level terrorist leader is caught who knows the location of a nuclear weapon?" Even Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in Canada last summer, shows a gift for this casual toggling between television and the Constitution. "Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Scalia said. "Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?"