Saturday, July 21, 2012

Between the Lines: Batman



Oancitizen is a lot smarter than me. And in this quick video, he explains the symbolic significance of the bat and why Bruce Wayne chose it as his symbol.

Let that tide you over for a bit, since I'm not seeing Dark Knight Rises until next week. ‎

33 comments:

Master Control Cynic said...

I want to see him do one on Joker and the Rivalry.

Wayne and the joker took the DIRECT OPPOSITE SYMBOLS, to do DIRECT OPPOSITE THINGS.

Wayne took the symbol of the bat (a symbol of darkness and evil) and now uses it as a banner for justice and right, keeping a watchful eye on his fellow man.

Joker took the harlequin (generally a symbol of happiness and laughter) and perverted it to use as a tool to terrify.

It's like Unbreakable, that quote from Sam Jackson.

"In a comic you can always tell who the villain is, he's the direct opposite of the hero"

I see that stark contrast more prevelant between the Dark Knight and clown prince of crime. Two equal and opposite forces destined to battle until their mutual demise.

............

Wow that was way to serious for me. I'm going to think of names for Linkara as a pony.

Lincoltra.....
Linkstallion....
FLANKARA!!!!

Anonymous said...

"Flankara".

...I shouldn't like that as much as I do.

Raven's punk said...

I second Flankara, and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.

Taylor said...

Wow... this is REALLY good stuff. Thanks for the repost Linkara, and thanks Kyle for the excellent essay.

The points on liminality and the lack of ascension are particularly well taken, since Batman might be the DC character who is most resistant to character growth.

Lays said...

Universal symbolism is bullshit. Who cares about Mayans ? Did the Batman's creators thought about all this ? Else, how is it relevant to pull out symbolics significations from cultures others than batman's one and his authors' ?
(bad english FTW)

Taylor said...

"Did the Batman's creators thought about all this"
It doesn't matter. As Kyle made clear, he said that Batman CAN make use of this cool symbolism, not that Kane had it all in mind.

Kelleth said...

Same here Linkara. I just got back from Amazing Spider-man though.

I can see other older bat-themed heroes pretty much in this light. But not the oldest one, Ogon Bat. True he brings terror to villains due to his brutality and aggression but He's pretty much missing the symbolic value Batman has.

Unknown said...

I just believe he's insane....Alfred even points out one of my biggest annoyances with batman's methods in Dark Knight Rises (Not a spoiler). That Bruce ,even after the city of Gotham is noticeably in a better state(inside and outside the police force), won't share his advancements for NO reason other than greed.

Le Messor said...

Fascinating stuff. He went way deeper than I've ever thought, but it does make sense.

DMaster said...

I love stuff like this; Oancitizen is way underrated.

"Universal symbolism is bullshit. Who cares about Mayans ? Did the Batman's creators thought about all this ? Else, how is it relevant to pull out symbolics significations from cultures others than batman's one and his authors' ?
(bad english FTW)"
...said Lays at 20120721 17:58

Yeah...you're way off there. Nothing is truly universal, but some things are pervasive enough that one can speak in general terms, and Oancitizen definitely put out enough analysis to speak in general terms, AND he put out alternatives to the common symbolism. As for "how does this matter to the original creators?", you clearly weren't paying attention. This video went beyond asking what went into Batman's origin, and more into answering the question of why Batman (more specifically, his symbology) is as pervasive and compelling as it is.

Unknown said...

Lewis, it's me from twitter:
To elaborate on the tweet, Linkara has shown to be more of an icon than human lately. He has very few normal problems (not saying he needs them mind you), the biggest "normal problem" Linkara has, is dealing with crappy comics. Even when he does lose the battle, he wins the war; simply because the character would die otherwise. It makes him more an ideal/icon, as the character isn't built on very personal principals that some may or may not agree with. That's how he's different from a very "human" character like the Punisher, who just wants to see every scumbag die(even though he knows he can't possibly achieve that in his lifetime) no matter the age, gender, family life and some times crime. Linkara has very clear but adaptable things he is against (Lazy/bad/insane artwork and writing), that any man/woman could take a stand against. It's those things that elevate him from being the fantasy avatar of you, to making him something( at least I believe) could outlive everyone who watches channel awesome/inked reality shows today.

@Vi9

Anonymous said...

I've already seen the movie, and I'm telling you, you're not missing much. Catwoman was unnecciassary, Batman is barely in the movie, and the big twist of the movie relies on you knowing about Bane's comic origin in order to trick you


P.S. Don't count on a great death for Bane

Anonymous said...

(In Christian Bale/Batman voice)

"Some days... you just can't get rid of a nuclear bomb"

People who've seen the movie know what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

That was interesting and I'll be another to chime in on not thinking along those lines. That said it does make sense. It's also interesting to note the differences between western and eastern views on the bat.

Fiery Little One

Anonymous said...

Linkara, what are your thoughts on the Aurora Movie Theater Shooting? I'm just asking because of the date you posted this.

Turkish Proverb said...

Fascinating. DKR may be a flawed movie, but this is a great analysis of that symbolism.

MasterSeijin said...

Put simply, bats are piss your pants scary. Also they're big contributers to the spreading of rabies. Or so Stephen King's Cujo would lead us to believe.

Robyn said...

I'm surprised it wasn't brought up that there's an Aztec bat goddess called the Obsidian Butterfly (Itzpapalotl).

I think I'm the only person in the world who thinks bats are cute. I would love to have my own bat house whenever I'm fortunate enough to move out of an apartment and into a house with a backyard that will allow it.

Although all this mythology surrounding bats still doesn't explain Crazy Steve in Steve Miller's Batman.

Brian said...

wow, that was great of Kyle to take his time to make that (props for him)

bigger question is, should we expect a v-log Lewis (want to see your take on Nolen's Batman Trilogy as a whole if you don't mind as well)

Anonymous said...

That, was an awesome video. Very informative. :)

Anonymous said...

Say Linkara, how come you never took Neutro with you on our quest? He hasn't shown up in a year and a half so why not bring him out? Or did Dr. Insano take Neutro back after you gloated to him?

boooratt said...

deshi deshi bashara bashara deshi deshi bashara bashara deshi deshi bashara bashara deshi deshi bashara bashara!!

Wow there was a thing I believe it was on either Discovery channel or History channel that explained this exact same thing and also tackled the Joker and Two-Face's mental problems. Also there was one on Batman's tech and all that jazz. I believe they were released either just before or after the Dark Knight movie!!

The only real difference was the psychiatrist that was kind of hosting this TV special said stuff a long the lines that Bruce Wayne is insane because technically his dominate personality is Batman not Bruce.

boooratt said...

PS: deshi deshi bashara bashara!

Lays said...

It doesn't matter. As Kyle made clear, he said that Batman CAN make use of this cool symbolism, not that Kane had it all in mind.

So, great material if Batman becomes Mayan or decides to become a symbol of luck for criminals (i.e. Chinese symbolism) in future stories, but else, i don't see the point. I didn't see that as a "make your own batman story" toolbox.

Yeah...you're way off there. Nothing is truly universal, but some things are pervasive enough that one can speak in general terms, and Oancitizen definitely put out enough analysis to speak in general terms, AND he put out alternatives to the common symbolism. As for "how does this matter to the original creators?", you clearly weren't paying attention. This video went beyond asking what went into Batman's origin, and more into answering the question of why Batman (more specifically, his symbology) is as pervasive and compelling as it is.

Yes, but exceptions to the "common" symbolism, or rather the "western" symbolism show that this isn't universal. The chinese approach – that bats grant luck – show that this animal isn't universally linked to darkness, terror, vampirism, etc. So why put it here, when you see that the batman IS linked to darkness, terror, evil, (with ambiguity, though) ? People see animals differently ; here positively, here negatively. When it's NOT from batman's culture, not where his character takes root, what's the point showing mayans legends ?
The bat is from the underworld in ONE extinct culture which has nothing to do with the story AND batman lives in a cave. Okay, but my question was : is it really relevant ?
Vampires, Pline, ambiguity of a flying mammal, blood-suckers bats from the new world, Goya, okay, no problem. But if "the europeans as the south-americans associate the bat with the underworld", just talking about the europeans associations is enough. The rest is great for curiosity (I study religions, i won't complain here) but I really don't see the point.
And Pline and his aphrodisac properties pop out of nowhere. Yeah, batman has sex, but so do others superheroes, and they don't need any symbolism from the ancient Rome, do they ? If there isn't a straight line of transmission chain between us and Pline, again, what's the point ? (and if it is, you should show it) Has the bat's sexual connotation been forgotten for twenty centuries, and just pop out, now, in unrelated comics ?
Pline also said that nail a bat to your door could be a protective ritual, and it wouldn't be any more relevant, even if it has had more influence on Middle Ages practices, because, it's simply unrelated.

[…]more into answering the question of why Batman (more specifically, his symbology) is as pervasive and compelling as it is.

Yeah, but, has everyone the tale of the mayan bat in mind ? Does it make Batman more compelling ? Do you think of bats as erotics things, or aphrodisiac ? Personally, I don't.

(Once again, sorry for my english, it's not my first language.)

Anonymous said...

@Lays: Dude, you are taking this way too seriously. The videos just about analyzing what the bat symbolizes in different cultures and how that can relate to Batman. While each culture's symbolism is subjective, it's still interesting to take a look at all the different ways to look at a symbol. You keep saying things like 'pointless' and 'meaningless' like this was suppose to be some debate about an issue like world hunger rather than just geeks being geeks. And if you really want to be pedantic, Mayan culture is from North anjd Central America (Oan got it wrong), so it is kind of relevant to the place Batman came from.

Marc Martin said...

In response to Master Control Cynic

Well, Joker himself isn't exactly Harlequin, as that's more of a specific type of jester, named for a wandering demon in old Greek plays called Hellequin, hence the black and red and the big hats that look like horns. Hellequin actually seems kinda cool. A demon wandering roads with his pack of lesser demons, hunting highwaymen. The Joker himself is just a clown, which doesn't invalidate your point or anything, but is just a little fact I find interesting.

Master Control Cynic said...

Thanks Marc! I'm glad someone noticed the actual POINT of that comment instead of being caught up on "Flankara".

Daniel T. Stack said...

Love the video's ending suggestion especially with considering how Bane and Wayne's Batman interacted in comics back in the early 90's

Ozaline said...

The thing that struck me most in this video is the inability to ascend. Though I really only followed it tangentially, that's what it seemed Night of the Court Owls was about... or rather what it should have been about.

At the start of the New 52, Bruce talks about tearing down crime alley and replacing it with a vibrant reinitialized neighborhood; he even claims he will no longer mark the date of his parents death but rather celebrate their lives by honoring their wedding anniversary.

Then the Owls come in, other creatures of the dark who want to maintain the status quo in Gotham and thus ruin Bruce Wayne's ascension.

Sadly by the time Owls' started I dropped all the books that were about Bruce himself, and only read the tangential Bat-family run ins. I'm told the thematic symbolism here was very underused but I'll have to wait for the trade.

Thanks for sharing this video it's great.

Bue52 said...

I wonder what the rest of the Bat family's totems and personas will turn out under literary scrutiny, especially, the choice of Dick Grayson's Nightwing persona, and Barbara's transition from Batgirl to Oracle.

RocMegamanX said...

With what is said about the bat being a symbol of darkness, then no wonder Batman has such a contrast with Superman(seeing as how he operates under yellow sunlight).

Katherine said...

This was a brilliant video. Thank you for sharing it. Oancitizen's videos are always fascinating because of his literary and cultural insights and this episode is a clear example of why he's such an interesting reviewer.

@Master Control Cynic: You have very good points about the ironic nature of the Joker and Batman's symbols and how they parallel each other. Now I wonder if coulrophobia started with the Joker or if it was around before then and Kane had it in mind while creating the Joker.

Felix Brunschede said...

Kyle just blew my mind.