WSJ Piece about Rises and the One percent is 50 Percent Right

“Dark Knight Rises” made another $62 million this past weekend on its way to $287 million, and its popularity has sparked spirited debate as to where the movie stands on one of its chosen subjects – the one percent/99 percent divide.

Is the movie pro-capitalism? Anti-capitalism? Neither one?  Novelist Andrew Klavan wrote a piece for the WSJ today insisting that “Rises” was a “bold apologia for free-market capitalism, a graphic depiction of the tyranny and violence inherent in every radical leftist movement from the French Revolution to Occupy Wall Street.”

Well, I think he’s half right. Director Chris Nolan definitely invokes the French Revolution (says me) to show how movement fueled by resentment and inequality lead to anarchy and chaos, even bloodshed. But isn’t a stretch to say that OWS is on the same plane as the French Revolution? IS OWS really radical leftist? There are plenty of capitalists calling for some of the Wall Street reforms proposed by OWS.

And Klavan gets into a bit of trouble when he cites Bane’s attack on the stock exchange as an example of revolutionary overreach, and quotes a police officer as saying “that’s not my money, that’s everyone’s money.” Incorrect. The police officer said that his money was under a mattress, a cutting reference to Ben Bernanke’s ZIRP policy, one of many (including $7 trillion or so in no-cost loans) designed to prop some of the very banks who helped created the credit bubble that so plagues us today.

Here’s a nice piece in The Inquisitor that gets the stock exchange sequence right, and shows how nuanced Nolan is on these issues.

I also think Klavan misses the critique implicit in his characterization of Bruce Wayne – disengaged and out of touch at the outset of “Rises,” moved to become involved (as a vigilante and as a capitalist) when it’s brought to his attention that his poor leadership and self-involvement have turned Wayne Enterprises into a moribund company that has ceased to prosper, ceased to extend the benefits of that prosperity to all citizens of Gotham.  

A rising tide does indeed lift all boats, not just yachts.