Did you hear about the Wall Street rioting over the weekend? If you are outside of New York, you probably didn’t. For some reason there was a media blackout. Early Sunday morning people reportedly heard gunshots and explosions. Then there was talk of guns and tear gas. Police clashed with masked men. Eye witnesses even reported seeing angry mobs of people trying to kidnap what looked like bankers and Wall Street executives. Hundreds of people dressed in black were seen fighting police in the street near the Stock Exchange.
Early reports said Occupy Wall Street protesters were to blame — their camp over at Zuccotti Park is just two blocks away — and so some were confused as to what exactly started the skirmish. But surveillance footage confirmed one thing: that it was not the angry mobs at Occupy Wall Street, but actually it was a number of scenes being shot for the new Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight Rises.
As the filming continued, Batman was spotted nearby fighting Bane, his mortal enemy. It turned out that the rioters were actually actors dressed as Bane’s gang. They were the ones attacking the police, not the Occupy Wall Street protesters. And Batman, it seems, was actually there to rescue the bankers. But the full story wasn’t clear because the S.W.A.T. teams, the tear gas grenades, and the Batmobile all just added to the chaos. To make matters worse, since Bruce Wayne is actually a billionaire, bystanders were confused as to whether he is a member of the 1%, or, as Batman, if he is a member of the 99%. So the burning question is: is Bruce Wayne a hero or a zero?
This very conundrum is part of why American culture is so screwed up right now. On one hand we yell and scream at rich people for being rich, and then on the other hand we worship them like gods. As a result we have developed completely unrealistic expectations for our politicians, our celebrities, and for ourselves. The sad truth is that we are a culture of consumerist crack whores, just waiting to get another hit from our media crack pipe. One minute we are hating Obama because he hasn’t fixed every single problem in America, and the next minute we are emotionally devastated because Kim Kardashian probably never was really serious about her marriage after all. If Kim Kardashian was a politician we would vote her out of office. And if Obama was on a reality show we would be obsessed with what brand of toothpaste he used.
But the big difference between our celebrities and our politicians is that we can punish politicians with elections, but with celebrities we have no way of voting them off the island. But tell the truth — you’d just love the opportunity to strip Kim Kardashian of her office and elect one of her rival Kardashians so Kim could feel the sting of the whip of democracy!
For many, it’s extremely frustrating that Obama and Nanci Pelosi are not Superman and SuperNancy. After all, isn’t the president supposed to be just like Superman or Batman? And Nancy Pelosi — why can’t she just use her super powers to get things done? Like Elvis said, we need “a little less conversation, a little more action, please.” For God’s sake, we want to see SuperNancy throw a car at someone! The People are confused!!!
Speaking of hero worship, back in 2008 the United States had the historic opportunity to elect its first black president (just like on Kiefer Sutherland’s hit TV show, 24). But even then, out of a San Francisco population of 808,976, less than half of the people voted. And San Francisco is supposed to be one of the most liberal cities in the country! How’s that for being committed to change?
Yet when people do make sacrifices and actually get up off their couches to do something — like in the Occupy movement — are they thanked? No, they are met with confusion, skepticism, and derision. The reason is that we get mad when our heroes are not perfect. After all, we like our idols to be Super — and attractive, if possible — not a bunch of dirty hippies! If only George Clooney and Brad Pitt were camping at Occupy Oakland! Now that’s something people could support! Or how about someone inviting Kim Kardashian to camp out now that she is single again?
A lot of people were probably disappointed when they found out Occupy Wall Street protesters weren’t attacking the stock exchange, led by Batman’s nemesis. But most don’t understand that we are in a post-heroic era. Post-heroic because battles are no longer fought face to face. Instead they are fought online and with unmanned drones and with surveillance technology. This in turn has led to a “demographic and cultural change in the West that has severely decreased the tolerance for casualties in war.” In other words, we like the slogans but we don’t like the blood, especially if it is our own. Culturally speaking, the damage it has caused is the illusion that if things get bad enough Batman will come to the rescue. The problem, of course, is that Batman isn’t real.