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Civil Disobedience in Gotham City

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Batman’s Civil Disobedience in Gotham city
Hugo A. Sanchez
English 102
10/24/14

Abstract
In this paper, I argue that the film and comic Batman the Dark Knight Returns, can be compared to Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience in the way that Batman disobeys the law by returning back to Gotham city and fighting crime. I also show that Batman displays civil disobedience when he does his best to protect Gotham city and fight the government, promising to never give up. I show that, much like Thoreau, Batman is solitary and engages in his own war by himself against the police department, criminals, and army. Just as Thoreau willingly goes to jail for his beliefs about the Mexican War, Batman fights for what he believes to be right, not only for him, but for the people of Gotham city.

Batman’s Civil Disobedience in Gotham City
When corruption arises, there is always a person who questions the injustice. Acts of civil disobedience are shown in modern society today, whether in society or through the media. Many individuals who are portrayed as heroes are people who break the law and fight for the power and authority that the citizens have lost due to their rights being taken away. A person must be able to accept the outcomes and consequences of their own actions when they disobey. Being civilly disobedient is not only about breaking a law. The actions of these individuals spread ideas. In the end, the outcome of the struggle may involve a change in a law like the way Cesar Chavez used this method to get the workers a union. In Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, the outcome may be to influence and empower others to change their minds about supporting a law, war, or other action. He wanted others to realize the importance of using one’s individual freedom to fight against government corruption. In Batman, the hero must battle political corruption as well, despite how “dark” this makes him appear. Like Thoreau, he has a moral code that enables him to achieve the greater good for the people.
Many popular stories involve a hero and a happy ending. However, the villain is never given the time to explain why he or she does the things they do. Although the antagonist is the villain, sometimes a story does not need a hero but a villain or rebel to make things right for the people. In both Thoreau’s work and Batman, the protagonist is an outcast but has morally sound reasons for breaking the law. Thoreau’s ideas influenced others by educating them about injustices by the government and about how being civil disobedient can help or can lead someone to question higher authority. Similarly, Bruce Wayne uses the symbol for Batman to show civil disobedience in Gotham city, and to restore order, peace, and justice.
Thoreau visualized a more passive government that would sit aside, a government that had few faults and the people governed themselves. “That government is best which governs least” demonstrates how government is better when it doesn’t give orders to the people (Thoreau, 2009). Government can become better if the people discipline themselves. Instead of government trying to pass laws and bills, they should worry about what the people want and not what’s best for them. Thoreau wonders, "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think we should be men first, and subjects afterward" (Thoreau, 2009). Is it normal to lose self-integrity and respect for what people believe in for an unjust law that the government enforces over the people? It is so much easier to develop what is correct and what is not correct, but doing what is right makes things better for the people. Thoreau also stated that is better to have a sort of respect for the right rather for the law itself, because, if people don’t civilly disobey, what are the chances of the people regaining their freedom? There is always one person who will stand up to injustice and do anything to spread a morally superior idea in order to change the way government governs and how people think.
A perfect modern example of civil disobedience can be found in Batman. In the movie Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1, Batman can be viewed as both a hero and a villain. In the animated series that was adapted from the 1986 comic book, The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce Wayne is older and has retired as the Batman. He has disappeared after 10 years. Meanwhile, crime in Gotham city has been increasing, but no one ever thought he would ever come back. A gang called the mutants has been committing crime in Gotham city triggering Batman to return and fight crime again. Later, in the movie, Batman eliminates the mutant leader and all the threats of the mutants in Gotham giving hope and restored justice to the people. He gave the average person a reason to fight: “I think it’s a mistake to look at batman’s return in purely physical terms. I think it’s a symbolic resurgence of the common man’s will to resist. A rebirth of the American soul” (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2012). Even in America today, we are in crisis due to an unjust government. The faith of the American people is fading because the news shows death, corruption, and injustice. Similarly, Batman raised the many broken souls of the people who needed something to believe in.
The people can also look back to Batman as a symbol of resilience despite being associated with crime. After the mutants scatter, some of them name themselves the sons of Batman, using violent assaults with good intentions. Batman’s portrayal is then tainted as a criminal because the sons of batman make him look like the leader of those criminal acts. In addition, the Federal government sees him as a threat and wants to shut him down, getting rid of him forever. Once Gordon retires as commissioner, there’s a new person in charge of the police department:
Commissioner Yindel: “James Gordon dedicated his life to keeping this city safe... ... and I'm honored to share a stage with him. But this office will no longer tolerate the actions of a criminal. As my first official act as commissioner, on the charges of breaking and entering... assault and battery, and creating a public menace...... I hereby issue a warrant for the Batman's arrest” (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013).
Clearly, Batman has always protected the city from criminals, but his long absence has created a disturbance in the city, so that riots were created from different gang members around Gotham and Arkham city, giving Batman a bad name and a bad reputation. Batman only tried doing what was best for the people and stood up against the crime lords including the government, despite that Batman was portrayed as a criminal. Not unlike Thoreau, Batman was portrayed as a criminal for standing up to the government. Thoreau was arrested for his political beliefs and became a hero to many as a result. Batman, similarly, became associated with crime but always had good intentions:
News Lady: Meanwhile, the white house continues to decline comment on the batman’s renewed activities… and the suggestion that his defiance is an embarrassment to the current administration…A white house spokesman only volunteered… that the president would deal with the situation if and when appropriate and in his own way. (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013).
Bruce Wayne is only a man dressed up in a bat-like costume and trained intensively with martial arts. The symbolic nature of Batman’s return reflects how batman is restoring order back to the way it was intended to be and now the government feels useless because they cannot take back a city full of criminals. Batman is solitary and a one-man army who never gives up on seeking justice for the people using acts of civil disobedience. Similarly, Henry David Thoreau is alone and takes on the entire establishment by refusing to pay taxes to support an unjust war. In both cases, the protagonist fights injustice as a solitary outsider for the people’s benefit. Batman embarrassed the government by defeating the mutant gang army, while Thoreau’s actions humiliated his jailer who reluctantly arrested him for his “offense”. In terms of superheroes, one might argue that Superman represents the United States of America while Batman represents the people that the government seeks to control. Those who practice civil disobedience seek changes for the people through the government, which is why Batman is a more fitting example of this idea. In our society today, injustice is spreading when people are being brutally hit by the police or the government passes bills that harm the people and help government officials in other ways. Batman escaped from the police and the military that was sent to hunt him down. Even the president of the United States sent Superman to put him down. During Joker and Batman’s violent confrontation, the Joker predicted Batman’s future:
Batman: All the people I've murdered by letting you live.
Joker: I never kept count.
Batman: I did.
Joker: I know. And I love you for it. It's finally here, isn't it? The moment we've both dreamed about. Oh, don't tell me you're going to fall asleep before we finish. You have gotten old, haven't you?
Batman: …
Joker: Not quite how I imagined it...
... but we can still end on a high note.
Batman: …
Joker: You're in trouble now. Go ahead. Say this has never happened to you before.
Batman: Shut up.
Joker: Make me. Come on, finish me. (Sigh) Doesn't matter. I win. I made you lose control. And they'll kill you for it… See you in hell. (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013). This little conversation opened up batman’s eyes because he knew joker was telling the truth and batman is responsible for all his actions but the consequences were bigger because he knew he will have to face governments destructive weapon, superman. Bruce Wayne had accepted his consequences from the beginning because he knew he would sooner or later let batman, the symbolic symbol of hope die. To prove that batman was a fugitive, on the final fighting scene batman and superman talk before killing each other.
Batman: Clark. This is between you and me.
Superman: We don't have to do this.
Batman: Sure we do.
Superman: Bruce, be reasonable. You know what my orders are.
Batman: Your orders? You say you answer to some sort of authority. They only want me dead because I'm an embarrassment. Because I do what they can't. What kind of authority is that?
Superman: It doesn't matter. It's their world, and they won't stand for you anymore. If it isn't me, it'll just be someone else.
Batman: Really? Who do they send after you? (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013).
The president of the United States sent Superman to put down Batman and make sure he will never appear in Gotham city ever again. His idea was that Gotham cannot live without a Batman, no matter what the cost. There will always be a vigilante watching over everyone and keeping justice and order in Gotham city. Finally, the final fight against injustice begins and, figuratively speaking, the U.S. and the people clash against one another. Brice knows that finally batman is going to die. Batman and superman fight until the end, but since batman had taken so much damage, he could not go on any longer. Superman states, “That was three ribs, Bruce. Don’t make me do this.” (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013). Batman was clearly old but the hits that superman was giving him injured him badly. He kept fighting to the finish doing his best to defeat superman, which he actually did when he used kryptonite. Batman then died of a heart attack.
News Lady: Funeral proceedings are underway today for Bruce Wayne…
As Gotham city still reels from last week’s spectacular revelations…
That the world famous billionaire was the batman. Al of wanes secrets, his methods and tools in his decades as the batman… died with him as Wayne manor burned to the ground. (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013).
He did so much for the people of Gotham city. Batman was civilly disobedient and was willing to take his punishment, which was his death. His ideas spread to many people including the gang who called themselves the sons of batman. Towards the end of the movie, superman killed the symbolic character of justice and true leadership by exposing batman’s identity and killing him. Peace was regenerated back to the way it was supposed to be as well as order and justice.
Bruce Wayne says, “Staring now, I’m going to teach you everything. All of my ways. All of my secrets. You’re going to be my army, operating in the shadows… keeping Gotham safe. And were going to take as long as we need. (Melniker. B, Uslan. M, Burnett. A, Timm. B & Oliva. J. 2013).
Although Batman dies, Bruce Wayne lives and vows to teach his followers everything he knows to keep Gotham safe. He knew that Gotham could not live without a batman and the ideas of batman spread and he gained followers. Batman and Thoreau had the same idea of civil disobedience but both showed it in different ways, Thoreau was thrown in jail for his actions and was willing to pay for it. Batman, in the same way, paid for his actions with death. “But while civil disobedience involves efforts by the disobedient to disavow personal complicity with an unjust law, it requires that the disobedient agent see themselves as otherwise citizens, or members, of the political order.” (Churchill, 2014). Both batman and Thoreau used their efforts to disobey a law that, in their eyes, was just enough to make them want to make a difference and share their ideas with others. Batman symbolizes justice and order in how he chooses to stand up against injustice. Bruce Wayne made a promise that batman would never give up. Therefore, he showed civil disobedience to maintain order, peace, and justice. Bruce knew what the consequences would be if he returned as batman, but this teaches that actions speak louder than words. Henry David Thoreau also knew the consequences for resisting the tax collector and going to jail, but he did it for he greater good. Good intentions are never forgotten.

References
Batman, the Dark Knight returns [Motion picture on DVD]. (2012). Distributed by Warner Bros. Entertainment Australia.
Batman, the Dark Knight returns: Part 2 [Motion picture on DVD]. (2013). United States: Warner Home Video.
Churchill, R. P. (2014). Civil Disobedience: Value Inquiry Book Series, 27666-68.
Thoreau, H. D. (2009). Civil disobedience. Civil Disobedience, 1.…...

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...stereotype causes the audience to associate certain qualities with men. Gotham, a new television series that creatively divulges the backstories of Batman and his most famous rivals, appeals to a male audience and represents masculinity in the classic ways. Through both character illustration and dialogue, Gotham portrays most of its male characters as strong, aggressive, and independent protectors, reinforcing the conception of hegemonic masculinity. At the same time, the show also presents characters who challenge or pervert those norms exploring invalidity of the stereotype. The city of Gotham is in bad shape. Crime lords rule and have made deals with the Gotham County Police Department to keep it that way. For example, some doctors work on the black market to treat criminals and police officers agree not to arrest them in exchange for information about the patients they see. In addition to structured crime, strange murders frequently occur in the city. James Gordon, newly appointed police homicide detective and son of former district attorney, shares his father’s vision of a safe and thriving Gotham. Achieving this, Gordon believes, involves challenging the mob bosses and taking back police control of the city. While the rest of the police staff does not share his goals, Gordon is determined, often working late nights and handling dirty cases that other detectives won’t touch. Shortly after his arrival, the city already shows signs of improved safety. Gordon’s......

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Civil Disobedience

...used on them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stated that even organic crops could be sprayed as long as pesticides were deemed “natural”. Americans had been using chemicals on produces since World War II and continuously used until the first strike took place, the Delano Grape Strike. This first protest was held in order to expose the risk in consuming intoxicated grapes. Pesticides not only affect the consumers, but also water, air, and soil. Cesar believed that five of the most dangerous pesticides used in grapes production should be banned because they caused health issues and may lead to death. In Cesar Chavez's Wrath of the Grapes Boycott, given in 1986 in Austin, Texas at a community center farm worker, labor leader and civil right activist Cesar regarding the harmful of agriculture in California, five of the leading pesticides should be banned of use in grapes and any crops. Several reports came out from The New York Times, stated that, "nearly 1,000 California, Pacific Northwest, Alaskan, and Canadian consumers became ill as the result of eating watermelons tainted with the powerful insecticide Aldicarb,” He, then, continued, “labeled the most acutely toxic pesticide registered in the United States." It shows the loophole on the regulations of the use of pesticides. Even though, it was one of the most toxic, unaware consumers were able to purchase those contaminated produces. One of the reports came from the Environmental Protection Agency stating that......

Words: 839 - Pages: 4

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