Wednesday July 18, 2012
It's spectacular, to be sure, but also remarkable for its all-encompassing gloom. No movie has ever administered more punishment, to its hero or its audience, in the name of mainstream entertainment.
Joe Morgenstern, WSJ on The Dark Knight Rises
In the Spring of 2008 I observed to my classes that the then current Batman Film, The Dark Knight, was probably a forerunner of what was about to happen. The tag line for the movie, the City Has No Hope, turned out to be quite correct as to what happened in the financial markets that fall. Dark Knight grossed an incredible $500 million in its first few months, clearly it was hitting a social mood chord with its audience.
My students remarked that they did not seem to be experiencing negative emotions. Maybe not but something was resonating to get them to collectively shell out $500 M to watch the Joker destroy Gotham.
Now consider this comment from Catwoman to Bruce Wayne.
Coming on the heels of the evaportaion of MF Global and Peregrine, not to mention several cities in bankruptcy, unable to pay pensions, employees, and provide services, we have a near perfect metaphor for the melt down ahead. This evaporation of customer funds has a counterpart in the uninsured bank failures of 1931. One might re-read my list of fundamental problems in the last weekend post, the Market Did What it Had to Do.
Just today in the same paper, there is an article noting that delinquencies on student loans in the over 40 set is now above 10%. This is a parallel to the sub prime crisis of 2008, except there is no collateral whatsoever to seize in a student loan debt. So the potential for an even great disaster looms.
So we have a parallel to 2008, and interestingly enough, the Director/Writer waited until the markets have risen to the same levels as Fall 2007 to bring the movie to the public. Great timing.
Mr. Morgenstern notes that in the 1930s people crowded into theaters to see Fred Astaire dance with Ginger Rogers in elaborate musicals. True, but they also crowded in to see Public Enemy and Dracula, both are social mood extremes. The musicals were for relief, the horror films were more re enforcement of the negative mood at the time.
Once again, social mood will motivate social actions.