7 Quick Takes (7/20/12)

— 1 —

I’m off at seeing The Dark Rises tonight.  (I’ve prewritten these and am going straight to bed when I get home, so don’t expect thoughts [ETA: let’s just say Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon Levitt are both really pretty and leave it at that]).  For this midnight premier I didn’t do a costume, alas.  The gritty, realistic approach that Nolan takes with these trilogies means that dressing up for this film ends up being a lot more about accuracy and technique than I have time for (or, frankly, am interested in).  After a certain point, your black catsuit will only look as good as the amount you spent on materials.  Dressing up match the aesthetic of a quite different world, if not a specific character, is a lot more fun.  (I’ve already got a bolt of tweed for Hobbit).

— 2 —

But I realize you may have expected costumes, so let me make it up to you with this fabulous cosplay video from ComicCon:

— 3 —

My favorite law blog on days when I don’t need a Supreme Court decision parsed quickly and accurately is Law and the Multiverse, and they’ve had a couple great posts on the last Batman movie this week.  They’ve covered the legal responsibilities of one of Bruce Wayne’s lawyers and whether Batman is embezzling from Wayne Enterprises.

After a movie comes out, I love arguing it over with friends (Brave was highly contentious) and reading cultural critique, but now I find myself on tenterhooks for the follow-up legal analysis that these guys provide.

— 4 —

But when I do want weird and interesting thoughts on pop culture, my two favorite people are Eve Tushnet and Alyssa Rosenberg.  And Alyssa’s been customarily fabulous in the run-up to the Batman premiere.  While riffing on someone else’s post, she wrote the following:

Cheering for someone who we are told is a hero, even if we have no idea what they stand for and what they stand against, feels good, but it’s ultimately a distraction, an experience that produces the feeling that we stand together with the people cheering alongside us in the theater even if we understand ourselves to be championing totally different things. What does Spider-Man, in his latest iteration, stand for? The idea that the police are an institution limited by both resources and perspective whose work should by the work of vigilantes, even if their agendas compete? What do The Avengers stand for? The idea that the world should not be blown up by fanatics and also that Nick Fury is better-equipped to make decisions than the council that oversees him, which has total screen-time amounting to less than the shortest fight scene in the movie? Good v. evil is a convenient distraction from having to talk about actual issues, like civilian control of superpowers as a stand-in for the military, or the impact of corporate influence on the scientific process, on which people in the audience might actually disagree. If the thing on which we can reach consensus is that it would be better not to be involuntarily turned into giant lizard-beasts and/or devoured and conquered by them, that is a pretty low baseline from which to start.

— 5 —

Alyssa is ever delightful, and I believe she’s the way I found out about the webcomic Strong Female Protagonist.  It started only recently, but it looks really promising.  The main character used to work as a superheroine, but has given up her cape and mask.  Here’s the description that hooked me:

The real reason Alison quit, and the reason she’s so involved in social justice work now, is a confrontation with her nemesis. Instead of fighting her, he surrendered, on the condition that he be able to tell her about a secret effort to eliminate superpowered people even more powerful than they are. People who have powers at the level that they do are a sop for the populace, a way of heating up the temperature of existing conflicts and distracting the public through media accounts of their exploits. “I’m not powerful enough to be a villain. And you’re not smart enough to be a hero,” he tells her. “Nobody’s scared of us, or we’d have a little ‘closed’ folder of our own. What are you going to do, Mega Girl? Fling poverty into the sea? Smash all of us into a better tomorrow? Nobody thinks we can change the world, and they’re right.”

— 6 —

Batman may be the hero Gotham deserves, but if he’s not the one it needs right now and Harvey Dent is [spoiler], what’s a town to do?

Corigliano d’Otranto has installed a municipal philosopher:

Under Fiore’s mayorship, the council has put up ceramic plaques with quotations from the likes of Saint Augustine. It has given out postcards for distribution in bars and shops that ask existential questions, such as “Why were you born?”.

…But it is the appointment of the municipal philosopher that has turned the spotlight of media scrutiny on the town’s policies. Shortly afterwards, the mayor received an excoriating letter from the head of the psychologists’ professional body in the region of Puglia, of which Corigliano forms part.

Dr Giuseppe Luigi Palma said the use of a consulting philosopher was “not only misleading and confusing, but utterly perilous”. He said his organisation was ready to take “all the most appropriate actions to combat any offence that may be identified”.

— 7 —

Ok, never mind.  I was wrong to not do a costume.  I just discovered the Steampunk!Batman pictures in this Comic Con album.

Fetch me my smelling salts, I may swoon. That mask!

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  • Municipal Philosopher = Best. Job. Ever. Brings to mind one of my favorite Atlas Shrugged quotes:

    “When a politician or movie star retires, we read front pages stories about it.But when a philosopher retires, people do not even notice it.”

    “They do, eventually”.

    • Ted Seeber

      Too bad the hours suck. At 15 euros a session, for 5 hours a week, I can’t possibly imagine her earning a living at this. She must have an outside consultancy as well.

  • deiseach

    Thank you for the cheering up vista of the psychologists and the philosophers getting ready for a rumble in Southern Italy.

    The philosophers may, of course, tool up with Wittgenstein’s Poker, but what weaponry do the psychologists possess?

  • Peter

    There’s an interesting book on Batman and the links to philosophy in a recent book (http://www.amazon.com/Batman-Philosophy-Knight-Blackwell-Culture/dp/0470270306). Fairly good, mostly just goes over really common philosophical ideas, but it’s cute and easy to read. I imagine if I was really into philosophy, though, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Sort of how I enjoy popular science books on all things except evolution?

  • Ted Seeber

    The video on cosplay brings me back to your conversion Leah. One devotion I did, made possible by the web, in the late 1990s was I spent a year reading this website every day (boy has it been redesigned since 1998! Used to be a bunch of flat htmls chosen by javascript based on your computer clock, now it’s like a blog and there’s even an iPhone App):

    Studying the cult of the saints taught me a lot about the entire concept of superheroes, celebrity, and fame. The leading way to become a saint? Start a monastic community that will eventually want to use your memory for recruitment.

  • evetushnet

    I can’t be the only person who wants to know what you thought of “Brave.”

    • Annette


  • Scott Gay

    I clicked on your blog for the first time today. Such a heartfelt joy in clicking on your “About” header, at the same time profound sadness for all those affected in Aurora. CO by attending a midnight premier just like you.