BrownTown is again joined by Sophie Elizabeth James, sociologist and podcast host, and Pearl Quick, farmer, pastor, and poet extraordinaire, in the inaugural episode of our recurring "Whiskey & Watching" series. BrownTown and guests deconstruct, recontextualize, and, dare we say, decolonize popular films, TV shows, books, and more! In our first take, the homies take on "The Batman," the 2022 Matt Reeves live-action feature version of the cape crusader's anthology.
BrownTown is again joined by Sophie Elizabeth James, sociologist and Unpaid Emotional Labor podcast host, and Pearl Quick, farmer, pastor, and poet extraordinaire, in the inaugural episode of our recurring "Whiskey & Watching" series. BrownTown and guests deconstruct, recontextualize, and, dare we say, decolonize popular films, TV shows, books, and more! In our first take, the homies take on The Batman, the 2022 Matt Reeves live-action feature version of the cape crusader's anthology. From analyzing the city of Gotham as a character in-and-of-itself to this new "emo Batman" to the Riddler as a 4Chan influencer ("like and subscribe, guys!"), the squad brings their own backgrounds and perspectives into how they've received new iterations of Batman throughout the decades and center the importance of media literacy even, and especially, with large blockbusters.
Full transcription here!
Sophie Elizabeth James is a political sociologist, project manager in the anti-human trafficking sector, and creator of the Unpaid Emotional Labor podcast. With a masters in sociology AND pop culture, she aims to provide nuance and levity to topics taken for granted.
Pearl Quick, hailing from the South Bronx, is an educator in soil science, disease ecology, genetics, and faith formation from Sarah Lawrence & Princeton University. Pearl created ‘Many Soils,’ a farming space where Black and brown youth come to learn how to decolonize their palates, look at the physical world, and grow food for themselves, their families, and their communities outside of the white gaze.
CREDITS: Intro music from the 1960's Batman theme song by the Ventures and outro music from 2022's The Batman theme song by Michael Giacchino. Audio engineered by Kiera Battles. Episode photo from The Batman.
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Ep. 79 - Whiskey & Watching: "The Batman" ft. Sophie & Pearl
BrownTown is again joined by Sophie Elizabeth James, sociologist and podcast host, and Pearl Quick, farmer, pastor, and poet extraordinaire, in the inaugural episode of our recurring "Whiskey & Watching" series. BrownTown and guests deconstruct, recontextualize, and, dare we say, decolonize popular films, TV shows, books, and more! In our first take, the homies take on "The Batman," the 2022 Matt Reeves live-action feature version of the cape crusader's anthology.
INTRO OVER MUSIC
Intro music from the 1960's Batman theme song by the Ventures
BODY OF EPISODE
[00:01:05] David: So I want to welcome everyone to another installment of Bourbon 'n BrownTown, I am your co-host, David, chillin, it's kinda rainy, a little dark, but you know, it's one of our earlier recordings so I'm happy that you out here with us. As always, we got Caullen. Caullen, bro how you doing today?
[00:01:18] Caullen: I'm good. I'm glad to be here with the Chicano Barry White coming through with the deep voice, loving it, loving it.
I'm doing decent though. It's been- it's felt like a long day.
[00:01:33] David: It probably has been
[00:01:35] Caullen: My heart and head are heavy for different reasons, but feeling decent. Got to be in this space with these beautiful people, inside and out. How are you doing?
[00:01:45] David: We're doing okay. It was definitely a long day, even though once again, this is an earlier recording, but just super excited to continue to be able to do stuff. For those just jumping into Bourbon 'n BrownTown, we've kind of been doing this for a few years now, and so to me, this is one of those moments where I'm like, we're entering another level. You know what I'm saying? Like, we're taking that step. I found the senzu bean, and there are these two people. So it's like, it works fucking perfect.
And so for everyone tuning in, we want to present a new series called Whiskey and Watching. So this is basically what we're going to be doing, is its the same show we've been doing, but we're going to start dissecting shit. One of the greatest things about this series is the folks who are going to be joining us.
[00:02:29] Caullen: I'm excited for us having this series. Starting this new year, there's a lot we wanted to do as far as kinda change up BNB, but also keeping it the same. What we noticed was in previous episodes, we'll bring in pop culture references, bring in movies, TV shows, books, which we'll also have a Whiskey and Reading when the time is right.
And- but it's always been on the side, always a tangent, it's never the main thing. And so there's so much weight there with creating any kind of creative work or cultural product, as we know, listeners and creators of this podcast and beyond. So we're kinda excited to bring this in and choose something that people know about.
Maybe people don't know about in certain cases, and really go in, in a casual way. But in a frank way, but also in a way that gets to the systems and interpersonal dialogues as we normally do. So I'm excited for having this series. Hopefully y'all listen. Y'all like it, if not, let us know. But I'm-
[00:03:18] David: cause we're still gonna do it
[00:03:19] Caullen: We're still gonna do it anyway. We might move a little differently, you know what I'm saying? But your feedback is helpful. And so I'm honored once again, once again, once again, once again, to bring in two guests we've had on the podcast before. Hopefully y'all listened to episode 77 and 78. But we have one of our guests with us who I'll introduce- Sophie Elizabeth James. For y'all that don't know, sophie is a political sociologist, project manager in the anti-human trafficking sector, and creator of the Unpaid Emotional Labor podcast. With the masters degree in sociology and pop culture, she aims to provide nuance and levity to topics taken for granted. She is most interested in how folks negotiate their identities in a sociopolitical and engaging in a system that seeks to destroy. Her favorite pastimes are verbally eviscerating bored trolls with expert use of their colonized language. *Blows kiss*
[00:04:09] David: What up Sophie? Bro, we seen some of that shit happen live, bro. There was shooting happening and at the wheel there was Sophie. Naw I'm just kidding. How you doing Sophie? Check in with us
[00:04:19] Sophie: No I'm doing great. It's just the dramatic reading of my achievements. I just always feel so unworthy to be in this space. I just love hanging with you guys. So thanks for having me.
[00:04:30] David: Don't say that ever again. You're not worthy. We love you and we're grateful for you to be here with us. And our other guests who, if you haven't heard, definitely take a pause 78, you can literally just go to the back episode, which is gonna be Pearl Quick. Pearl Quick, hailing from South Bronx, Pearl Quick is an educator in soil science, disease ecology, genetics, and faith formation from Sarah Lawrence and Princeton University. Pearl created "Many Soils", a farming space where Black and Brown youth come to learn how to decolonize their palates, look at the physical world, and grow food for themselves, their families, and their communities outside of the white gaze. Yo Pearl, what's up?
[00:05:05] Pearl: I am so happy to be here. Yes! A little, sipping on things, which always makes me so happy. I love you guys so much. I'm so happy to be here, and I am ready.
[00:05:22] Sophie: Oof, yes!
[00:05:23] Pearl: We're not. I mean, whatever, I'm working on, like two hours of sleep. So let's do this!
[00:05:28] Sophie: I'm working on max depresh
[00:05:30] Pearl: I'm so excited
[00:05:31] Sophie: That's depression for you, new folks, so let's do it.
[00:05:37] David: I'm so dead. And so before we do move forward, I would like to say that there are going to be hella spoilers. And so that's not usually a thing that happens with Bourbon 'n BrownTown, but just so y'all know we will be going in and dissecting The Batman. One of my favorite things with coming to the superhero genre is our ability to leave our world, so to speak, and go into this space where impossible things are possible. And so I think, my first interaction with Batman, I'm not gonna lie, it think it was actually Batman Forever. And the only reason why that was, was because it was with Jim Carey, and I was like, Ooh, Ace Ventura. And then I see him as the Riddler, who I thought he did fantastic at the age of, you know, 9, but I've heard it wasn't-
[00:06:24] Sophie: yeah, you're reliable source at 9, very reliable.
[00:06:27] David: So that was my first interaction with The Batman. What about y'all? What was it like to get this character in your lives? And then from there, I think we can really dive into some of the shit we've seen this character portrayed. Any initial thoughts with The Batman or interactions with Batman?
[00:06:45] Sophie: So my first interaction with Batman was 1989. And I did not- I just came to America and I did not know English. And so all I knew was that I was very terrified of these characters, especially the Penguin and Two-Face in that version. And I think I didn't really have a connection Catwoman in the second one it was- but I think I was obsessed with Michelle Pfeiffer at the time, as like, we were #### with her.
Yeah. And I think Batman Forever was when it was cemented. Cause I don't know why I had this irrational crush with Val Kilmer and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose", changed my 9 year-old life, personal connection, and even informing philosophical or existential questions when it became Christopher Nolan's trilogy.
And that was much later so we can get into that. But that was my first kind of when the film franchise imprinted itself on me. And as an aside, can we just note that this- the Batman franchise, and Superman as well, is a safety net for white male careers? It's either: at the end of the day if it bombs they'll still get a check, if you do good, it launches your career. So I hope we can talk about that later, but I'm done
[00:08:06] David: A little foreshadowing, if you will. Thank you.
[00:08:11] Caullen: I remember, I think Michelle Wolf, she's a comedian on the Daily Show, at least at one point, she was talking about when Wonder Woman came out and she was like, Termino was interviewing her and she's like, yeah, it was really good, whatever, whatever, she's like, but also, what if it was bad? What if it was dog shit? It should still- we should be able to make women's superhero movies and they should be able to be bad and we can still make more. She's like, do you know how many bad male superhero movies there are? Or just male directed movies are period? They're allowed to be bad. And I was like, that's facts. That's facts.
[00:08:40] Pearl: No, Nope. They're like, Ooh too bad, now we'll never make another one again
[00:08:43] Caullen: There's just so much riding on one role, if you make an amazing movie. If it was halfway decent, they'd be like, no, never again. It's like, but, Batman Forever exists
[00:08:50] Sophie: See, this is why we don't make- this is why women can't be superheroes. And it's like, you literally had George Clooney in Batman & Robin with a suit with nipples and he still got a check.
[00:08:59] Pearl: Okay! And you know he got a big one.
[00:09:04] Sophie: Okay. His career did not falter. Wow, I have opinions, clearly.
[00:09:13] Caullen: This is pre the tequila, this is pre the colonizing tequila, okay. I hear energy in here. One thing I do- I think it is important, but, anytime you look back 10 years, 5 years, whatever, at pop culture and music and music videos, like we talked about in our episode with Sophie- movies especially, especially with these kinds of cultural critiques, we have to- Batman Forever, and Batman those were goofy. We have to kind of- what's the word I'm looking for? We have to kind of grade on a curve a little bit, like what was happening in the late '90s?
What was the thing in the late '90s? So it's always interesting- it's hard to do because you have to look at it in the way it was. However, with that being said, those kind of movies were more popular and it was more palatable then? But also, I can see a lot of parallels between Batman Returns with Michael Keaton and this current one, you know what I mean?
As far as the darkness, the grittiness, which in the late '80s that was not that- that was not the thing. Whereas now it's more acceptable, it's more- I don't wanna say the norm, but it's more of a thing you see with movies and stuff. And so, for the late '80s it was like, wow. Whereas now it's like, that was cool and different, but also like, I've seen Daredevil, like I've seen R-rated superhero movies. So I wanted to make that- how we grade and look at things in the past versus now it's important to look at those nuances and, what was happening at the time in society and how- what the norm was as far as how things are created.
[00:10:35] Sophie: Of course
[00:10:35] Pearl: Batman- 1966, the TV show.
[00:10:41] David: Bring it back
[00:10:43] Pearl: Yes, I mean, Julie Newmar was Catwoman. I love her. And then obviously Adam West was Batman, but it's whatever. But I got only three chances as a kid to really watch TV with my dad and that's going to be The Honeymooners, and it's going to be M*A*S*H, and it was going to be Batman.
[00:11:08] Sophie: Wow.
[00:11:09] Pearl: So like, there is a nostalgia for me in that, and really there's- okay, so for me there is something so powerful about the 1920, '30, '40, '50s woman. It was just so much like, you gonna respect what I give you and accept that. And Catwoman, she does something, right. She's out of the norm and still you root for her no matter what she's doing, at least I do. I'm like, yeah, rob that fool. Turn it up. Get the bag.
And she does it so well, she says everything they want to hear, because men are so fucking easy. You don't have to say much, you just give them a s- you know, you give them just a little bit. She got what she wanted. She said what she wanted. She meant that shit.
She stole the bag, or he gave it to her really. And then she bounced. Before- after kicking his ass just because she could. And I like that.
[00:12:11] Sophie: I have literal chills.
[00:12:12] Pearl: And I was so- I felt- yes. And I felt so good being with my dad, watching this and realizing- and also was comical. So he allowed me to watch it because there was a lot of like, POW! WHAM!
And I thought this is hilarious, but also when is Julie coming back? And this is when I knew that I was a homosexual.
[00:12:36] Sophie: Done with you. I am so done with you, I can't.
[00:12:40] Pearl: Yes, 1966 Batman.
[00:12:42] Caullen: That is amazing. I want to hold on this idea of your infatuation with Julie as Catwoman and fast forward, what, 60 years. And- and maybe there's other Catwomans in the history of the Batman mythology that we can speak to, but I'm curious, how do you- do you feel the same about Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman? How do you see the mythology of Catwoman change? And, I don't know, I kinda wanna update and sit in in this film and how you see her in the context of the film itself and in movies today, and as obviously as a Black woman and all that.
[00:13:23] Pearl: So for me, I think of it first, as a person who lives in a juicy body. And I asked my- I'm serious, I go back to the very first and I'm thinking, there was a trajectory in physically how we looked, especially as women in the '40s and the '30s who had a natural thicker frame and was not demonized.
So I'm watching this happen as a young person. And for me, the character- Zoë Kravitz could not be any smaller. She is shaped like a 12 year old boy, and I love it don't get me wrong. I love her. But there is something to that. But she has a grittiness that she's always had. She just has this grittiness that no matter what you watch her in, she has a deeper toned voice, and she has a nice nastiness that I enjoy. And when I'm watching her as a character in this latest film thinking about, at least my love of Julie and the women before this current one in Zoë, there was an effort, I think they tried in this film that I think they did really well in making her very independent, being like, I need you to get out of my way, cause you're actually making things worse, and I have one goal- sorry for the people who didn't see it- which is to save my friend. To see my friend, to make sure she's okay- clearly she wasn't.
But in that realizing that the women before her, it's almost like we didn't really have to try. They had an air about them that was so strong in who they were, but also incredibly careful in knowing how to use their sexuality, use their sexual-self, and get what they needed without losing anything in the process, as in the way they feel about themselves, or the way they interacted with the world, or how much they did not or did need a man. And it was a little bit different for me, and this time, I think that because we are in 2022, we definitely want women to know that. We want them to feel it. We want them to walk in the world that way, to be strong in themselves, to know how to get what they want. But also things like that are demonized. The Catwomen played outside of a role for me. She wasn't fit into the- you have to be this, don't be too smarter than a man, don't hurt his feelings, cause you don't want to get murdered. But even though it's 2022, we saw that in this film, she knew exactly what to do and she knew how to take good care of herself, and Batman wasn't the main character in her world. Now, I could say more just about not showing her enough, but fine, it's fine. It's called The Batman, it's fine.
[00:16:18] Sophie: And he's also like- what is it, the first 2 years of him being Batman? So he's still growing up? But what's so interesting in all that you said too, is I'm thinking of how I don't- I've never seen the 1966 version of Batman, but the way that Catwoman was introduced, especially through- in Christopher Nolan's Bat franchise with- what's her face- Princess Diaries- Anne Hathaway, what I thought was so interesting, comparing Anne Hathaway's performance to Zoë Kravitz, her independence was still intact at the end. Right? Because he went his way, she went her ways. Because she got the bag, she did the thing, she got the D and then she was out. But then, what was so upsetting with Christopher Nolan's- and I remember feeling at the time, cause yes, I did watch Dark Knight Rises 4 times in one weekend. But what was so upsetting at that time is, she was trying to show that she's so independent, she don't need no man, and life has been rough and she's just this realistic and nihilistic at some points view of the world. And then at the end, Batman still was able to overpower her, and she still followed him to the ends of the world and all of that. So I was like, it kind of fell flat to where the male gaze is really apparent there to where it's like, you can be as independent as you were, but you're still going to succumb to this kind of man's man that they wanted Christian Bale's Batman to be, and he still overpowered her independence. And she was wearing his mother's pearls in that cerulean blue dress, like they're at the fucking country club, like what the fuck?
Give me this stiletto six inch heels, and a red lip, and let me get the D, and leave the money on the nightstand. But it just felt so gross that she ended up with him at the end. And I liked how in this iteration, 2022, Matt Reeves interpretation, she kept her independence. He was like, all right, I'll see you- I mean, you do what you gotta do, but I'mma take this, left. So exactly. It was still empowering even though- to another point you said, and I was thinking about this too, and I wrote a note, wrote it in my notes of this- even just the physical embodiment of her, there was still this male gaze of this super waif, super thin repackaging of male desire.
And I could have just sat in Zoë Kravitz's clavicle. Like I just, I- it was- it was too much!
[00:18:59] Caullen: That gaze and that image being a certain thing, that's how the producers, whoever are trying to make you fit this role. And I think- how do we take our gaze critique to that system that's doing that? In comedy, there's a thing called punching up when you're making a joke that could be talking about race, or class, whatever, how do you make that same joke that is kind of edgy as far as, do I laugh at this or not? But it's punching to the system, not just individual. I'm trying to think of what is the equivalent of that for action movies and body type?
And yeah, obviously the way women's body type is more scrutinized than a male body, but I think what's interesting too with, I think David, you may have told me this, but with Robert Pattinson- correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't they trying to beef him up, and he was like, nah, I wanna be like- have some lines but be kind of scrawny, and they were okay with that? And that was, to me, looking at Batman, normally he's swole to capacity. And Robert Pattinson, he was just like a dude with a suit on. And that was a subversion away, but obviously they didn't say to Zoë Kravitz, we're gonna get you a CrossFit body. That didn't happen.
And that's- coded to how we can think. But all of this to say, I'm thinking about if you think of Hollywood and making movies as an institution, and looking at that versus individual, does that change how we think about it at all? Does that makes sense?
[00:20:21] Sophie: I don't think it, no, it definitely makes sense. But I think at the top it was kind of fleshed out. This is solely coming from a male gaze. It's not like we're going to these people to look for a way- we're not looking to them, or at least not me as a Haitian immigrant, I'm not going to look to them to tell me how my worldview is or how I should think about myself.
They're literally putting out a version of what they think femininity is or what they think XYZ is. So I think I was coupling the individual performances and even just the time that Batman: The Dark Knight Rises was 2012, and this is 2022, so 10 years apart, I think there's still a iteration of the writer or the director telling us their view of what femininity is and it's packaged in these ways, however different they can be.
[00:21:16] David: To me, something that I appreciated was understanding from the beginning that this is simply from the perspective of Batman. But to that point of us knowing that it's definitely from his perspective the entire time, or from a male gaze, I think is important to name in comparison to the other ones. And Caullen, the one thing that I did want to name with regards to those '90 movies, it kind of- it really glamorized the sort of dark and, nightlife type thing. If I remember- if I'm thinking of those films in comparison to the Dark Knight series, I think the Dark Knight really took into effect graphics, and storyline, because they also knew they were making a trilogy.
I think the death of Heath Ledger also really skyrocketed a lot of things and the culture, so to speak
[00:22:06] Caullen: not as much for this, but with the- a lot of people were saying a lot of things when Heath Ledger died, as far as, why and how and all that. And a lot of folks contributed it to the role of the Joker, and him being method and really getting into it.
And I don't want to speak on that too much, but I think art reflects life, and vice versa, a lot with these films. And I think, 20 years ago, superhero movies, it wasn't really the case. It was always flashy and always kind of fun. And they weren't as dark as they have been in the past 10 or so years- which I enjoy cause I feel like it's more real.
And we started this conversation about superhero movies and they were fantastical, whatever, I'm like, yeah, but not really. Batman, he's a billionaire who tries to- he doesn't try to help, but tries to help with his buddy and encouraging focused violence.
It's like, I can see Batman existing in the world. But before we talk too much about it, I'm curious, Sophie, you've seen the movie several times, you're a sociologist, too. I wanna get to some- zoom out into some world-building. And less about Batman and the Wayne's themselves, at least not yet, but what is this world? What is Gotham city? What is this place that we're in? And then we can talk after that how familiar it is- how similar it is to the world we inhabit. But what is Gotham City? I feel like what this film did well, and what the Nolan series did well, was paint Gotham as a character in and of itself, and a character who you know. At least for someone who's lived in a big city with political issues. So if that makes sense, I would love to hear your take on this world that we're in. And then we can insert the Wayne legacy and I think that'd be a good place to get to these bigger systems, so to speak.
[00:23:51] Sophie: I feel like, and not to be reductive or crap on- cause I think as films and as franchises, I think Nolan and now Matt Reeves is starting to show that he understands the assignment. But I think on a sociological perspective, I feel like they took one Intro to Soc' course and they jumped to chapter 12 and the development of a city, and they're like, okay, we got it, we got our backdrop and this is where we're going to lead from. Because it felt like a very voyeuristic, and also sterile view of not only the city, but also the machinations and all the macro level structures that produces the micro social situations that they're trying to critique, which legitimizes Batman's presence.
He's doing a lot of self-talk to make him- to center why he- and to convince himself why he should be in this space. But I think it's- I struggle, maybe I try not to get into that space because then I'll never watch these shows- never watch these films again, because it still ends up falling flat.
Because they're talking about, why are you a billionaire? That comes from hoarding wealth in some way. Okay, you literally have all the means to eradicate all these problems. You don't gotta wear a cape. You don't got to put eye makeup. You don't gotta get ready to Yellowcard or Dashboard Confessionals.
I don't know what he was listening to, but it was something emo. There's just so many things that they could do to rectify the situations, but their alliance to institutions that perpetuate the violence and the crime. It's like, okay, just say you took Intro to Soc' and then you bounced and you withdrew from college and then you wrote your script.
I get it, it's cool, it's cool. But I always think that they miss the mark on delving deep into why we have certain issues and the intentions of all the stakeholders that are literal central characters in these films. I don't know if that makes sense, that was off the top of my head and I feel like that was a trick question, trying to like, how did you get your degree, Soph?
[00:26:08] Caullen: Wow is that how I talk?!
[00:26:12] Sophie: No I'm kidding, I'm kidding
[00:26:13] David: No, but Sophie- yeah, and to that, I think the- I see that most in that scene, for example, where we- the initiation, so to speak, of these groups and they're on the train. They're like, oh, we're just going to be violent for reckless sake. And, we do bad things because we have fun with it. And that's what-
[00:26:36] Sophie: the gang initiation of the pseudo-Hispanics?! We're not going to talk about that?!
[00:26:40] David: The pseudo-Hispanics
[00:26:42] Pearl: True
[00:26:43] Sophie: I watched The Wire once- I can't
[00:26:45] David: That's what I think about with the things you're mentioning. And how our boy- and I was going to name this Caullen, when you were talking about it, but, who is he actually doing this for?
He's not doing it for nobody but himself. And that's the whole struggle with his character, low key I love the fact that it was super fucking emo. I love the- my man is not really, doesn't put any effort into trying to be anything but gloomy, emo, human.
[00:27:13] Sophie: "Get away from me, Alfred". He's super emo.
[00:27:15] David: He hates- he's putting all the hate from his dad onto Alfred, who shout out to-
[00:27:19] Sophie: you have cufflinks too, are you a Wayne, Alfred?
[00:27:22] David: Oh my goodness. But you know, I think- yeah, I'm definitely seconding what you're saying and giving that example. Because at the end of the day, oh, Batman's violence is fair, but everybody else's is done out of this characteristic that they're just inherently evil, so to speak.
Versus- and then also- and then we start diving more into the humans and the peoples of the cops,
(clip from film)
[00:27:51] Sophie: This, one of my points is this racialized narrative with vigilantes, and who deserves to have righteous anger, right? Those who are doing the- oh the vandalization, and the looting, and the rioting of folks who are like, where the fuck are taxes going?
I need to choose between rent and feeding my child, and I'm sick of this. As opposed to, fear as a tool. And this emo billionaire who's hiding away in his mansion. I mean, I hope to consensus is we know that Riddler wasn't wrong wrong, right? Is that where we're going to end up? No?!
Okay. I'm going to stop talking
[00:28:37] Pearl: This is my family's legacy
[00:28:37] David: I think he was a good guy, in my eyes
[00:28:38] Sophie: I've said enough. I mean, yes, does he still need to answer his crimes, yes. Murder is bad. But did he catch Batman with some one-liners that Batman didn't know what he was too stunned to see
[00:28:51] Pearl: Yes
[00:28:51] Caullen: Can we talk about one-lines, though. I'm pretty sure the Riddler said this, but:
"All it takes is fear and a little focused violence". The whole re-imagining of Batman- of Bruce Wayne turning into Batman, I think in all the films, he has an experience with a bat, he wants to make- put fear into criminals, whatever. He has made this image in this larger than life figure. And in The Batman, the film we're talking about, he's already emo and all the things, he just puts a suit on, and it's more so that. Whereas previously-
[00:29:27] David: bulletproof suit
[00:29:28] Caullen: Very Bulletproof. But in the previous films, I'm thinking of Nolan's series, where he's this billionaire Playboy, he's out here slangin' that thing, whatever.
He's- it's very much a mask. It's very much a character. Whereas in this one he's him all the time, and Riddler makes a point about that. But when we think about how we think of terrorist ideology in the most vast kind of way, as far as making fear apparent and then focused violent.
Batman, making fear apparent for "criminals". He can't be everywhere at once. So he's focused on the mob, focus on this, focus on that- it's focused violence. When we think of police, the ideas are omnipresent, we have the boys in blue, we have all these monikers for them.
But they can't really be everywhere. So it's focused violence here and there that actually makes a lot of damage, and a lot of harm, and a lot of hurt community-wide. So when we think of all- any kind of group or figure in superhero mythology or real life institutions and things, I hear that phrase and I'm like, oh, that checks out for the CIA, also the Taliban, but also the FBI, and also whatever, and they all have their reasons and justifications for it, so we can't ignore that. And so I did- I don't want to take this to turn too much, but I appreciate that Riddler's character and Paul Dano's acting in that character as well, for a lot of reasons, which we can get into. The end with his followers going crazy- thought that was lazy and little shallow.
[00:30:55] Sophie: But that was a way to emasculate him as if, trivializing his performance as if, to make him look weak to us like, oh, buddy's holding it for the followers, like, Hey guys like and subscribe! With his whole mask on, that was literally to emasculate or just make him look like a jack-in-the-box to where we- it still paints that the Batman still needs to vanquish him no matter how many points he dropped. But what were you going to say, Pearl?
[00:31:28] Pearl: No, that I agree with you both. I think that I watched this film and I watched two- and of course I'm going to do what I always do, which is connect it a little bit to a second of a book, which is Frankenstein. I always asked myself throughout the entire film, I'm asking myself, who's the monster?
And I had to- we all were forced to watch this film, and watch two types of things happen. So I had, I asked myself, I was like, standing on a cliff watching this film thinking, who am I going to save? So as I'm watching this film, I'm thinking, who is the bad guy? Because we're all supposed to pay attention to the people graffitiing and the people doing random, really random shit on buses and trains. But there are actual criminals. The Riddler is actually trying to do the work and we're actually focused on him because of what? He's, I'm sorry, but he is getting rid of the things that we all should want to get rid of.
And I'm watching this thinking, so we had to make a choice. We had to either side with Batman and be like, yes, the Riddler is bad cause he's killing people. But also, the same people that we are protected are the ones who are making it so we are starving to death. And so we have to choose to rob, and kill, and steal, and cheat in the street and they get to live.
And I watched it every second that he got another politician and they would be pleading, and you would think, but, if you didn't get caught, you would literally step on the bodies of people that vote for you. It didn't matter. So I'm supposed to be paying attention to the Riddler who's trying to expose corruption? But I'm supposed to think it's so bad because he's doing it in this way? Maybe he did it in public, but some of you men, the politicians literally sell children into sex slavery. I know it. So what am I supposed to feel? That it's public? Cause all of y'all doing all that shit in private and we're still getting fucked.
So I watched two- I had to do two things the entire time thinking, yeah, I hope you win. We both know you won't, but I really hope you do because he's doing nothing in his cave, by the way. We have an Elon Musk, maybe he was that out of the 2022 in The Batman. That's- we don't need any more billionaires who look like their faces were melted with candles. But it's fine. It's fine. Whatever.
[00:34:04] Sophie: But, and I don't know if any of you got this too, but there is this very- the shift in presentation of information or you- what am I saying? You could tell that the writer's room had a couple of young Millennials or Gen Zers who were influenced from the 2020 racial uprisings and how we can leverage our voting power, and our physical power, and all these different things to make good on our demands. And these are basic human rights, things that we're asking the people that we voted into power. You could tell there was this social commentary weaving its way through the script. And even though sometimes they fell flat because there were some moments where I'm like, okay, ACAB! And then it was like, but then you're using your body as a shield to protect these cops, okay. But-
[00:34:58] Caullen: wait, who's ACAB?
[00:35:01] Sophie: No, there was- and I'm so mad that I didn't write these quotes down. Cause I'm looking at my- and I'm like, there's so many quotes that I wrote down. But there were moments when Batman is in the room full of cops and he is like, he's making it- he's trying to make it apparent that he's not working with the cops, and everything that he says is a critique of their legitimacy. But then at the end he's like- I feel like he falters on that. I got that. Did no one else got that?
[00:35:33] Caullen: I know I enjoyed the relationship that he had with the cops, because it was highly antagonistic with the rank and file being like, (muttering) , but the Commissioner Gordon- or whoever the other dude, the main chief of police, whatever his name was,
[00:35:50] Sophie: Wasn't his name Gordon?
[00:35:52] Caullen: It's normally Gordon
[00:35:54] David: No, but I think he's still a detective, I don't think he's a Commissioner at this point in the story of
[00:35:58] Caullen: Yeah that's true. Mustache shit. Yeah, they were obviously buddies, very close together. And he met him when he was above the law, but he was okay with it, but not. And Batman's always been- he's always just been a cop, with more resources.
Which is scary, but that- I like what you're saying about the relationship he has with him or didn't have with him, as far as him going back and forth. He didn't seem like, fuck 12-esque, but it definitely was- we were thinking about it more. They made us think about it more throughout the entire film.
But he was with them, and officially working with them a lot. I think more than you've seen in previous films. But that's how I ran it.
[00:36:37] David: Yeah. I think maybe not fuck 12, but I did feel like I heard ACAB, so all cops are bad. I think that was glaring
[00:36:46] Sophie: I wasn't going to, fuck 12, but it was definitely, ACAB.
[00:36:48] David: Yeah. So I definitely- to that point though, Caullen, I'm definitely hearing you about the relationship he has with law enforcement in this one, in comparison to the other ones.
Cause even in the other ones, I don't think we ever see him- maybe in Chris Nolan's but other Batmans I don't think I've ever seen him punch cops. Or does he?
[00:37:07] Sophie: Never
[00:37:07] David: Now I'm trying to think. Versus in this one, his buddy even tells him to punch him in the face. I thought that was kinda funny.
But I'm going away from the point, the point that I was trying to make- I do think this film, kind of screamed ACAB, and to your point, Pearl, on who is our hero, who is the monster, so to speak, I was a huge fan of the Riddler the entire time. I'm glad that Jim Carrey did not play him.
(clip from Jim Carey as the Riddler)
[00:37:30] David: And I'm glad that we were able to see #### without his mask. And I think, also that ending with the potential team-up of the Joker shit, that seems so exciting. So shout out- as a film, I think they definitely, they could have taken more sociology classes, but I think they got the job done.
They definitely came to work. And I think I just seen a couple days ago that they've confirmed the second Batman to this franchise. And so, Robert Pattinson and the homeys are probably all pretty excited. I'm interested to see if they bring back Catwoman, in any way, shape, or form. And/or who else they'll bring into the picture.
[00:38:13] Caullen: This won't be too much far away from the point- when we think of villains, who we agree with or we know their end is good, but maybe their means are whatever. Cause we talk about the Riddler, and I- again, I think with the Riddler, really he was trying to uphold, as far as expose the lies of the private sector, the mayor's office as a public sector, as well as the nonprofit industrial complex. There's a whole thing there, how that has actualized in our reality. You wanna expose these lies, expose these connections, which I think is valid on how they're harming people, and harmed him.
Which I'm following, I'm following, I'm following, and then at the end with the social media presence and the followers, and they come out just to shoot people- granted it's at a convention for the mayorship of a young Black woman, if we can get into that. But it's that, and then it's also the flood the city. That's not hurting the capitalist, that's hurting the people.
####. But when we talk about villains, we're like, Hmm, okay, he wasn't wrong. Killmonger Black Panther is a good example obviously. I think of Bane from Dark Knight Rises and he was, "take back your city". And in certain ways he did that. And in certain ways,
[00:39:26] Sophie: oh that gave me chills!
[00:39:29] Pearl: Yeeeees!! Oscars!
I couldn't tell them apart.
[00:39:32] Caullen: Thank you! I think As far as this kind of bastardized Marxist ideology, you kind of had and carried it out, I think with Killmonger, hurt people hurt people, right? He used colonizing tactics, but he wasn't wrong as far as sharing resources globally with Black people. I think with Heath Ledger being the Joker, his was less systemic, his was about people and about, y'all think you're innocent and you're not, and I'm going to expose that. That was his end. That was his thing.
[00:39:56] Sophie: He read the whole sociology textbook. He read it front to back, back to front.
[00:40:01] Caullen: But with those 3 examples of villains, I understood. Whether I agreed or not, I understood where they were coming from, they had an analysis. The Riddler had an analysis until he didn't. The things he did were hurting, I think, hurting the masses of Gotham. They weren't hurting the institutions themselves- I mean, hurting them as far as they had to scramble and help people when there was the flood, and people were getting shot, whatever, the new mayor was getting shot.
And I guess, for him, the mayorship is a toxic office in general, which I can get to a certain extent. But I just didn't- that part I didn't- I wasn't on board with. But I do appreciate you mentioning earlier, Sophie, about him, when he gets unmasked, he's this emasculated figure.
So he has to have other people do the bidding for him. I do get and appreciate that. But I don't know, the #### fell flat to me
Yeah, it got January 6, real quick.
[00:40:49] David: I do think though, Caullen, to that, I wouldn't think it was an extension. We're seeing violence for violence sake and I think that was like, oh the Riddler's- I think from a writing perspective- okay, we're going to be tiptoeing that the Riddler could be right.
And then, oh no, but he's still a maniac. There needs to be this sort of understanding that his violence is just violence for violence sake, that there is no truth to it
[00:41:12] Caullen: That's not what they were setting us up for though. I get that, but that's not what they were telling us
[00:41:17] David: No,I hear you. No, no,
[00:41:17] Pearl: exactly. yes.
[00:41:19] David: But I think that's to your point, I'm not disagreeing that it was a shitty way to do it. And I think there's a whole other conversation that I kind of wanted to- I don't want to bring us all the way back to the whole social media following sort of things
[00:41:32] Caullen: I mean, it's relevant
[00:41:34] David: no, no, no, but I want to sit with the point where, I think, it was literally just an opportunity- because here we are sitting with, oh the Riddler's right. The Riddler's right. We need to be on Batman's side. And so what gets us to that it's this idiotic no real reason display aof violence in flooding the city, in getting all these shooters to- which I thought was a cool scene though, low key. It also speaks to- I literally saw it and I was like, oh January 6th.
[00:42:01] Sophie: 1000%. Paramilitary shooting people, they didn't have a care in the world or no patriotic bone in their body, but now they're like SEAL Team 6. Go home, Kayden, Jackson.
[00:42:17] Pearl: Yes. Yes.
[00:42:17] Sophie: You know there's a couple Kayden's in there. One thing I will say though, as far as when I'm talking about, he's not wrong- he's not not wrong, I think it's more so pointing to the philosophical- and not even giving him that much credit that he's, that's the method to his madness. He is reading Assata Shakur, he's reading liberation theology. I'm not- I don't know his backstory and from one orphan to another, I get it, hurt people hurt people, for real, the struggle is real. And maybe there's some room in there for the mental health industrial complex too. And how we stigmatize mental illness as well. Because not only did they reduce the methods to his violence, into being a thot and a thirst for clout. Thirsty for clout. But also the mental illness, because then it points our direction to Arkham Asylum and our need to fund and keep these really- institutions that- which came first mental illness or Arkham Asylum and all that stuff.
But I also think when I was talking earlier about they fall flat, there is a lot of- I was really pleasantly surprised at the amount of political theory and critical theory that they had in there that I think was more apparent than any other franchise that we've ever seen.
And there was just enough to- if someone is new to this and they're leaving like, Hmm, I felt myself identifying with their Riddler, why is that? And maybe that's something that could jump start conversations, jumpstart research. Again, I'm giving our species too much credit, but I think that I did appreciate those morsels. But then again, like you said David, for the tool of moving the narrative along, it had to be good versus bad.
And it had to be some form of justice for us to leave thinking that- well, really believing a lie, right? Because we know how our society- especially Chicago, which is kind of one half of what these stories- Gotham's based in. It's a way for us to, I don't know, it's like a salve of sorts, for us to continue to ignore what's really going on our on our sidewalks in our city.
[00:44:46] Caullen: Wake up, sheeple
[00:44:47] Sophie: Sorry for that ramble. I'm done with you. I don't know where I was going with that.
[00:44:51] Pearl: I'm dead
[00:44:52] Caullen: I feel like I've been talking a lot. I have all the things in my head, but Pearl, I feel like you were giddy?
[00:44:57] Sophie: Me too!
[00:44:58] Pearl: Yes. Oh, only because I love listening to it. So I'm always thinking myself. But I do believe that, I truly believe that the way that we think about, in this case, mental illness- and I think about this, across the board, but in the film, it is reduced to this idea. But it is a, to me, it's a commentary on how we think about mental illness in the sense of only the most mentally ill people are dangerous and to be dangerous, they do irrational things and they hurt people.
It's the take, the focus, and the understanding that is statistically proven it is less likely that a person who is mentally ill will hurt another person and not themselves. So the movie could have been 15 minutes. He could have been very angry. You could have just said- he could have been angry, he could have been like, you all are destroying the city and unalived himself. But that is not how mental illness is portrayed, across the board in how we think of it.
It's always the big, bad monster. It's the thing that's like, this is why we put those people away because they do this thing, don't look over here though, don't look this way, look that way, don't look over here. And I think that the mental illness thing is so apparent and I truly truly believe that in the film we are asked to look at this person as dangerous, and not worthy of then taking another look and being- so in some of the films, in some of the films before now we are not privy to the darkness. We know that there's darkness going on, but Batman comes in and is supposed to fix it, and makes everything go away.
Even the way that they cut the camera, even the way that the scenes change, we don't get to see and sit with the gritty and the nastiness. But we're watching it, and we're being forced to realize that the nasty is 911, it's the people you call. It's the ones that are supposed to be there for you.
And we are realizing that, and we are forced to sit with the fact that sometimes we are the nasty. And we are part of that. And we are, we make up apart because we enjoy it so. So you don't get big if you don't have followers, but you have followers, which means someone is following him and thinking, this is the way that it's supposed to be.
So I really believe that mental illness and this idea of, now you have to sit with the yuck, that the yuck is us, and that the yuck is not some abstract terrorist that we can label, but it's also not some severely mentally ill person. That it is us, that we are part. That we cannot separate ourselves from that
[00:47:50] Caullen: Am I the danger?? Am I the villain??
[00:47:54] Sophie: So fucking brilliant, and I love the shade, but to your point- there's so many points and I don't think I can hold up to Princeton.
[00:48:07] Caullen: Get her!
[00:48:10] Pearl: No she didn't!
[00:48:14] Sophie: There's but I think to just this stylistic tool, or this- I'm not, eww, look at me trying to act like I'm a film school buff, but the parts where the camera work, we were in his body. All you saw was what he was seeing, and the heavy breathing. There are so many moments when I was watching the film the first time in theaters, where I was, I had to realize, oh, I haven't breathed in in a couple of minutes, or I was holding tension in my body because I am literally- I'm seeing what Riddler's seeing. I'm feeling what he's feeling. He's breathing, it's syncopating my breathing. And again, we're giving a lot of these people way too much credit. But I think to that point of us sitting in that yuck in ways that we haven't done before, I think there were stylistic choices that they made in a direction of it and the cinematography that I think points to that. I'm just waiting for this op ed. Like and subscribe! Waiting for Pearl to drop this knowledge.
And another note, say what you want about mental illness, but this guy had bigger arrests and the whole police got him, police departments. So get this guy a detective stripe.
[00:49:29] Caullen: Art reflects culture.
[00:49:31] Pearl: Just let my mentally ill ass on the street,
[00:49:35] Sophie: he's doing these big arrests, come on
[00:49:37] Caullen: There's fucking, there's Riddler in this way. And then the Joker in the Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's film, he was like, look what I've done with the city with two sticks of dynamite and a gun, or something like that. And he's very much like, look-
[00:49:52] Caullen: It's been over a decade.
[00:49:55] David: He's been practicing.
[00:49:57] Caullen: But my point is, the Joker's like, look y'all, I have a gun and a stick of dynamite and I'm smart. And look what I did, I put the city on it's head. These cops ain't shit. And several weeks ago- hope everyone's feeling good, hope everyone's healed from the injuries and like that- New York city subway dude came through gas mask, shot up some folks, a dude on the street turned him in- said something to the police, and then dude turned him in. Then mayor Eric Adams is like, everybody, we got him. Y'all didn't get shit, all your cameras, all your tech, all your shit didn't find this person. You didn't keep people safe on the CTA- or on the, sorry on the MTA. This billions of dollars y'all spend on the NYPD, this paramilitary force in New York, didn't actually find this harm that was done that happened because y'all don't keep people safe. So this idea that- I've never thought of the Batman series trying to critique police by any means, but treating Batman as a certain character that works with them, but also as a vigilante, an #### vigilante because he's a white man, cause they don't know he's rich.
There's all that. But also they're sliding some abolitionist undertones, not even trying to by showing these villains really ain't got shit and they're making the whole city go crazy with nothing. And these cops don't- which all this money's going through from the city, I'd assume, aren't really doing anything.
And they have to rely on this dude flying around doing shit to maybe get something right. And so that's what I threw on in then all of them, at least the ones in the last 20 years or so. Which I kind of low key appreciate.
[00:51:29] David: Yeah. Yeah. And I do think that it hints to- my biggest thing was in the understanding of greed and what that plays. Just more money. I want more stuff. The concept of the dropheads also, to your point of mental illness, I thought that was one of their weakest point of like, okay well, so what the fuck is a drophead? I still don't know what a drophead is. However, it was this sort of- what I'm supposed to understand is-
[00:51:56] Caullen: They're drug addicts.
[00:51:56] David: Acid dropping? But they're also having full conversations
[00:51:58] Caullen: It doesn't matter.
[00:52:00] Sophie: Pseudo fentanyl meth heads
[00:52:00] Caullen: It's a drug and people who use drugs are bad. So they're- it's all you need to understand,
[00:52:05] David: but as a consumer of drugs, I'm still like, where do I find- what is it?!
[00:52:10] Caullen: I wanna try this!
[00:52:11] David: If I was with a homie and they're like, yo, you wanna drop? I'm like, well what does it do?
[00:52:15] Pearl: But, drugs are bad, depending on who you are. Cause they got to be in this club, they got to be underground. They got to do it recreationally. It's consi- it's not the same.
[00:52:25] Sophie: Thank you
[00:52:25] Pearl: it's not the same
[00:52:26] David: But they're all looked at. You know, cause Catwoman still looks like, oh, they're all drop heads. You know? So there's still this- even Catwoman who's supposed to-
[00:52:33] Pearl: yeah, but I bet you in that moment they're dropheads, but they're politicians and we're still looking at Catwoman being like, oh, she's "that" girl in the club, and she's doing whatever it takes- my attention is still somehow the drophead who was the politician who was doing it recreationally is still not more- not considered more yuck than her.
And you're like, Hmm, she's not actually doing anything. But we're supposed to frame her and not focus on the fact that our politician- the people that we voted for are doing absolutely nothing. Just, we're not-
[00:53:08] Sophie: and the ceremony of how we then end their lives. Like the big- what's it called- that big funeral that the Riddler crashed within, who was that guy who had the bomb around his? The he was the district attorney?
[00:53:25] Caullen: He was the DA. They were protesting at his funeral
[00:53:27] Sophie: You had these people who were like the bottom of the bottom. Like, you're in these sex clubs, or you're trafficking underage girls, you're abusing drugs, your backhanded deals, your briberies, or the checks are clearing. The money that's supposed to go to the city is supposed to funnel and for you guys are having your own cartel, but then, you go back and use our taxpayers money to give you the bomb ass sendoff. Like, what?
So what is this critique on morality or not just morality, but integrity too. And I think you said at the top, Pearl, of like, yeah, you're seeing just the stylistic, the visuals of the looters, the petty thieves, the petty thief in the beginning who was doing that armed robbery- well, I guess that's not petty, I guess that's grand theft.
[00:54:18] David: It's a felony, yeah
[00:54:19] Sophie: And those who were about to assault the Asian man, as if that's the lowest of the low. But then because somehow those who have power we can't hold them to the same standards
[00:54:32] Pearl: Yes. But I'm also thinking about the way that we are supposed to see this, when it first starts and Batman is talking, "I am the darkness",
and you're thinking to yourself, we are supposed to see these people as lowest of the low, but the reality is there are other- there are things happening around that. And yes, it's not the lowest of the low, this stuff does happen, but it's such a- it felt like a caricature of what we're supposed to be watching.
And I was- just a streak, like, oh, this is what you consider the worst of the worst? Okay. But who gets to be framed that way and why are we doing it? And we're supposed to be like, yes, stop the man who's robbing. I get it. But then we have to feel bad because that man is robbing someone who just owns a convenience store, but why do we do those things?
I feel like, yes, there are just people who do crazy shit, but also more so if we're supposed to see this as the most raunchiest, nastiest, broken down city, then these things will occur. But we still are focused only on what we're fed is the worst thing. We have to just accept that this is the worst thing. But the reality is we're going to- and we have to cry? We have to cry at their funeral?! We have to feel bad that the Riddler crashed a funeral for someone who does not give a shit about no one??
[00:56:09] Caullen: Savage!
[00:56:09] Pearl: who you thought?!
My man said, just yep, like what? I am not supposed to feel bad that everyone is ducking down and, oh my God, he has a bomb. All of you were complicit. All of you are complicit in this, and we're supposed to feel bad? And I like how I got to step out of that and be like, I need to make a choice for myself because this is not working.
[00:56:36] Caullen: I think I do-
[00:56:38] Sophie: but again, listeners, we're talking more so to the philosophy of this. We are not saying that we are Riddlers- we're not going to be writing the Riddler letters-
[00:56:49] Caullen: Riddlerettes
[00:56:49] Sophie: yeah, we're not Riddlerettes. We're not Riddler stans.
[00:56:53] Caullen: People crush, we need letters. we can make a letter exchange. We can talk, you know what I'm saying.
[00:57:00] Sophie: They do. You right. You right.
[00:57:02] David: I hear what you're saying though, Sophie. Just so if the CIA or the FBI is listening. Yeah, we're not planning on-
[00:57:07] Caullen: What's our FBI guys name?
[00:57:08] David: Tom.
[00:57:08] Caullen: If Tom's listening
[00:57:10] David: Tom, there's a motherfucker constantly fucking our shit.
[00:57:12] Pearl: I'm definitely on somebody's list.
[00:57:15] Caullen: One thing I do appreciate about, I think what, at least I'm thinking of what Nolan and this one have always kind of done- and probably all the Batmans actually. I can't think back that much, but it's been shallow and kind of obvious, but there's at least some kind of class critique. And then with Gotham being so ridden down, there's also multiple billionaire families, which isn't an accident. And they name that, and they always kind of have.
[00:57:35] David: Inheriting family.
[00:57:36] Caullen: Yeah. And I remember in Dark Knight Rises when Anne Hathaway is dancing with Bruce Wayne and in his ear. She's like,
(Clip from Dark Knight Rises: "you think all this can last? There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, cause when it hits you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us)
[00:57:43] Caullen: and then walks away. I'm like, damn right girl, herding all this wealth for no reason. That's always been them trying to pull shade. And this is the only one- again, shallow is given them too much credit, but even naming any kind of racial anything- she names whiteness.
She's like, these old white men have all this money woowoo. And so you at least hear something here and there at least- again, I'm not giving them too much credit, but there's that. I'm curious what y'all thought about the choice to have a young Black woman win the mayorship?
[00:58:24] Sophie: I think because I know of the amount of emotional labor that I have to process before I leave my house every day to exist in very white spaces and to try to always play the offense and the defense of- and being very strategic in when is a right time to leverage my professionalism to get what I want, but then also use that to then get, to leverage for something that I need for the people as to why I'm there? Because- so I just looked at her and I was like, you in danger, girl. I couldn't really-
[00:59:08] Caullen: Get out of the house!
[00:59:08] Pearl: Molly, you in danger, girl
[00:59:11] Sophie: Yes, it was very Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost. Shoutout. Also, shoutout to 1989, they gave us some really great films.
But, it was something that- I was like, man, I'm all for representation, but why'd you gotta put her in this? And then she got shot. I was like, you in danger girl, not just the emotional labor and what it means to get to that point of visibility to where you are actually a very strong running opponent against this, against the incumbent. But I was already thinking of, okay, when she gets the mayorship how long until the system gets her too? And that's, you know therapy works. For me that's something I have to talk to Germia with tomorrow- Dr. Smith, where I'm just like, why do I have such a very pessimistic view of Black women in power?
[01:00:02] Caullen: Because you live in Chicago with Lori Lightfoot
[01:00:03] Pearl: come on.
[01:00:04] Caullen: Zazazing
[01:00:06] David: ooooh
[01:00:07] Sophie: Full circle, baby! What about you, Pearl?
[01:00:12] Pearl: It was giving me very much Princess and the Frog. It was very much, it was giving me, we can't stay in the light before they take us out- every time. I'm like, well, you had a Black princess? My man, she was a frog for 99.9% of it. That's not a Black princess.
I don't understand. So that's the way I felt. I felt like we got there, but I was nervous the entire time. I was like, baby girl, you're not going to- they're not going to take out this man or this man or this man or this man, but best believe your already tired Black ass is taken out. And they're going to let you stand up there for two minutes boy, before they- it's done.
It's ####. I just- and I felt- I just felt terrified the entire movie like, stop putting her face on the news
[01:01:12] Caullen: these insurrectionists are crazy.
[01:01:14] Pearl: But she was running for things. I get it, I really do. But I felt so, here we go again. She's going to do all of it. No one's going to take her seriously.
And then everyone that does is going to vanish. And then she was vanished. You know what I mean? Like I just felt like, you gave us something for what? And also is she like a subplot? I'm just confused. She like, popped up- that they love to do a Black women. Baby, we can just get- we just pop pop, but we're like little novelty pieces.
She poppopped, and then she got pop-popped
We're like, here, take that.
[01:01:49] David: Yeah, and the thing that I didn't understand, and Caullen, I guess this is why I didn't know that she had won, at the time when we see her again, which is at the funeral. Cause she's like, oh Bruce Wayne, we need your help Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne, I need, I need- and you want to do good for the city, Bruce Wayne, come through Bruce Wayne and join me, but I'm going to go and say what's good real quick, I'll be right back, but we still talking about this right, Bruce Wayne? And it's like,
[01:02:11] Sophie: She's still ia politician, she gotta do what she gotta do
[01:02:14] David: She has to! I mean, I hear it. I've been trying to get in contact with your people, but your people say you're not available.
[01:02:21] Sophie: That's why I'm like, you in danger, girl!
[01:02:22] David: If you haven't seen the people been getting killed on news- on Instagram, like, I don't actually, I don't know if it was Instagram, but like
[01:02:28] Caullen: it was like 4Chan or some off the grid shit. But David you mentioned a brilliant point about her seeing Bruce Wayne as a billionaire recluse. Cause she's like, Hey, I'm trying to change the city, I need funds to do that. I, as this person who is running for the highest office in the land, I still have to beg this private citizen for money.
(all in agreement)
[01:02:54] Caullen: And that's not the way a society should be. This is not a critique on her, but that's not the way our society should work. And one thing I've always- again, I don't anticipate a leftist critique for all superhero movies and stuff, but with- I think they've done with the anthology of Batman, from the comic books, all the iterations of it, even to this film, we know Gotham, we know Gotham. One of the things I hear about Chicago, folks who live here and folks who don't live here about, oh, Chicago's corrupt. And Ed Burke, all these other people who do all these corrupt things, and this is illegal and slush funds- I'm like, Hey, you're not wrong, but guess what, they do legal shit that's super hurtful and violent all the time. And I'm talking about all municipalities, all federal agencies- ISIS exists, you know what I'm saying? And it's not even 30 years, 25 years old. So I'm not saying corruption doesn't matter, but the Gotham- they're like, oh, Gotham's corrupt and mmememmah. But it's like, yo, you think making it not corrupt is gonna fix everything? No...
[01:03:59] Sophie: they literally found a way to legally take a billion dollar- what was it-
[01:04:05] Caullen: the renewal fund
[01:04:06] Sophie: the Gotham renewal deal. The renewal fund that was supposed to invest in infrastructure and all these social institutions, and it just became its own drug cartel where they were legally allowed to exist. Where nobody knew- well, besides the city just eroding, but it was allowed to just be that way for two, three decades.
[01:04:30] Caullen: And what's funny about that too, is they mentioned how it was a fund that no one was looking after, there was no scrutiny or financial surveillance over it. And it's like, a billion dollars with no financial surveillance?
[01:04:39] David: Cause the dude had died, right? Cause he died-
[01:04:41] Caullen: Yeah, but the fund was still was still-
[01:04:42] David: we're so focused on the death of this dude. No, I hear you, I hear you.
[01:04:45] Caullen: The fund was still there, right? I mean, no funds that big- even start-ups owned by white institutions, they're still looked after. But so it was an interesting vent on the non-profit industrial complex, which we can get into and have gone into on previous episodes- as far as how that parallels to the way the city works, parallels to the way private institutions work. And how the set up as a hierarchies of all of these institutions are not that different and kind of need their re-engineered equality in different ways in order to legitimize themself and actually solve anything. Kind of make it look good. And so there's #### a critique there, and I thought it was- I don't know if it was too on the nose for public policy wonks.
The reason they called it "The Renewal Fund". I hear "renewal" and I'm like, ooahh, that's a dirty word in public policy if you care about getting money to people. Urban renewals- yeah, there's a history of it. I don't know if it was an accident, and they were like, oh, actually this has history; or there was too on the nose. But either way, I appreciated them calling it the Renewal Fund knowing this is a bullshit thing by a billionaire trying to make things better for himself. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I feel like this was the only time Bruce Wayne's father was running for mayor. I feel like before he was private in his doing stuff, doing "good stuff" for the city, whatever, but he never ran for mayor, right?
[01:05:57] Sophie: No, he was a doctor, right? I mean, he's always been a doctor, but in Nolan's he kinda had his own hedge fund and was more in the corporate world and leveraged all that. But he was never running for public office. Which, can I add to that? And I don't know if this stuck with you guys, cause I think when I saw it opening night, that's the one thing that I was- I went into the weekend and still ruminating on it- the fact, what ended up getting his father killed and was the catalyst to all this, him wanting to go get help from a Falcone or Maroni, whatever, whoever
[01:06:37] David: Falcone, you right
[01:06:37] Sophie: Falcone. It was Falcone, Maroni was the, was yeah, yeah, Falconi, Maroni was the oppose- whatever, the enemy. But was because he wanted to protect his wife's name. And the only thing that besmirched her name was that she spent time at Arkham. So are we gonna talk about this call back to not just ableism, but this very-
[01:07:04] Pearl: come on
[01:07:06] Sophie: Anglo Saxon, Protestant, wealthy, there's this one type of way that you can exist, and anything that falls out of that is
[01:07:18] Caullen: othered?
[01:07:19] Sophie: Not demoralized, I can't think of a good adjective that won't be an overuse of gross, but I thought that that was like, really? You went to a known mobster, who you know how he handles conflict resolution, all because you thought that if the public found out that your wife's family was murdered and we don't know the circumstances of that murder and she had a traumatic reaction to that, where she had to go somewhere to have her high needs taken care of, and that's what was going to kill your political career? I thought that was a very white problem and I did not know what to do with it. And it was so unsettling to me. And I was like all weekend, are white people okay? Like, what? I didn't know what to do with that. And maybe I'm screaming into the void guys, but it was so, it was so weird to me. I don't know what else to say.
[01:08:31] Caullen: I thought that was kind of weird
[01:08:32] Sophie: fine. I'll go, I'll journal on my own time guys. I thought this was a safe space- I'll journal on my own- no I'm kidding
[01:08:39] David: No, no no no no. I had a whole total note- I am so dead. No, I literally had a whole fucking note on- all of our problems for the Wayne family is the mom, and her family and what have you. Also, and I don't know if this is true with the other stories, but the Arkham family, I never knew that they were the Wayne and Arkhams. I always known the Arkham prison, mental, whatever was a thing, but I never knew it was- or at least in this rendition or this story is like,
[01:09:08] Caullen: sure.
[01:09:09] David: They are the reason for the Arkham Asylum, sort of conversation. So it's like-
[01:09:15] Sophie: yes, classic colonizers, that's their MO
[01:09:18] David: but that's unique though. No? I think this is the most we've ever got from Mrs. Wayne
[01:09:24] Caullen: From a film, as far as naming the Arkham family for the asylum, that's the most we've heard. Is that in the mythology? I'm not a Batman head, maybe? But from a film naming it, it definitely is. Which I thought was-
[01:09:34] Sophie: but I think when we talk about early urbanization and city building, that's what it was, was the Rockerfellers, it was whatever all those white names that we know in history that skyscrapers are built after. It started from those families and how they leveraged whatever it was, whether it was blackmail, whether it was whatever, to then fund their thing. Because they got Arkham Asylum because in order to not have the homicide listed on the death certificate, or death note, or whatever, the money they got from covering that up is what they used to build Arkham Asylum.
So colonization 101, I don't know. Maybe one of your listeners will hit me in the DMs. If you want to chat more about this very obscure, very niche, and clearly my own island
[01:10:23] Pearl: very niche
[01:10:24] Sophie: I'm in my own island here, but I just wanted to bring that up.
[01:10:28] Caullen: I thought it was a little lazy. I didn't think about it the way you did Sophie, but I feel like I get that. I thought it was like, that's why? This little scandal thing? Ooughh. And they used the slush fund or whatever. I did think it was, as far as, oh, this is why this man did all these things or, reached out to this person- didn't think he was going to kill him, but he's, that's how he handles business. So he should have, but something with like, we're in this weird age of electoral politics. And a lot of it's, I think kind of due to Trump and being the figure he is, as far as I think pre-Trump, you had to be a choir boy, girl, non-gender conforming person in order to even be on the ballot, be considered real. Which I think is not fair or not human. Obviously, Trump kind of over-corrected in this way where he can do whatever he wants and people will still follow him.
[01:11:20] Pearl: We went a little too far
[01:11:21] Caullen: But after Trump, even municipal elections, whatever you saw, people, young people could try to be elected or whatever. Folks who were like, Hey yeah, I did this, or I smoked weed one time and that's who I am. And people were campaigning differently.
People are being more human when they were campaigning. I think that's we see that today too. And so I think when we think of traditional, "political logic," it's like, yeah you could have anything like that and that would ruin his career, especially if we're thinking of this kind of- it's present day, I guess, but it's still very noir-ish.
This entire film is film noir-ish. And so when we think of it, it still feels like it's the '20s, even though it's 2022 and they're texting and stuff. And so if you put it back in traditional political logic or the way it was okay/ not okay in politics, yeah, you probably would do some shit in order to get anything, even the small- what we think of now is like, that's actually not important, actually that's ableism and fucked up and actually be something you should be able to say out loud. You probably could do that and he wouldn't go any further. So I'm considering that as far as how we look at the political moves of these folks. And with a shallow analysis on the way the private enterprises work with politicians
[01:12:29] David: Eric Gordon is sort of a unique figure, right? That Bat- like, why didn't you come after me? It's like, cause you're a good cop.
[01:12:39] Caullen: I was like, noooo all cops are bastards, no Batman!
[01:12:44] David: I don't know why I'm doing that voice, cause Robert Pattinson-
[01:12:47] Sophie: You stay keep doing Christian Bale's Batman, and I love it though.
[01:12:51] David: Gordon was this sort of in his own bubble type cop and he was allowed to do whatever the fuck he needed to do, in Batman's eyes versus everyone else was their potential to be sketch.
[01:13:04] Sophie: No, I mean, I would let Gary Oldman ruin me. I don't care if it's Churchill Gary Oldman. I don't care if it's-who was Harry Potter's godfather? Sirius Black, Oldman
[01:13:17] Pearl: Yes!!
[01:13:18] Sophie: Sirius Black, give me all of it.
[01:13:20] Caullen: He's kind of a bad boy with long hair
[01:13:23] Sophie: oh my god. Sid and Nancy. Gimme every iteration of this man. Wow. I'm sorry, I think I'm getting to that point where I'm very loopy and my intellectual capacity has gone. I need food. I need carbohydrates
[01:13:40] Pearl: Yessss!!!
[01:13:40] David: And we appreciate all of our listeners sticking with us, hopefully y'all are drinking. Maybe you're watching The Batman as we're talking to y'all. I don't know how fucking crazy y'all want to be getting. But I do think, there's so many points that I think the film did right. There's some things that we're critiquing, and there's some things that they can definitely scrap and maybe change for the next round.
[01:14:00] Sophie: The one thing I leave with, with your amazing followers is just trust your source. Don't go to these violent corporations for your philosophies. If anything stirs any point of interest in you, go do that research- or go do that research because 99.99% of the time, there's probably a Black scholar or a person of color behind that original theory.
So yeah, let it move you, fall in love with the cinematography, fall in love with the emo vibes, but just know that there are people who set the tone for why they could have this as source material for this.
[01:14:42] Pearl: You know, I really do like the idea of going for the ride, really. But really paying attention to who we are being asked to focus on, and who we are being asked to see as either worthy of our champion or unworthy due to illness of any kind. Just really pay attention- have a good time, but also realize that like everything else that it's trying to tell us something, and is trying to direct our attention to something. But not always the things that we need
[01:15:18] Caullen: There's a media literacy talk right there.
[01:15:21] Sophie: Anti-propaganda propaganda. (laughter) I'm bringing it to the streets of Brooklyn, the Bronx, I'm bringing back my New York energy.
[01:15:31] Caullen: It's two different boroughs, what are you?
[01:15:45] Sophie: I know
[01:15:46] David: It doesn't fucking matter, Caullen!
[01:15:49] Sophie: And I ended it in New York. Don't come at me, bro
[01:15:49] David: I gotchu, Sophie. It doesn't fucking matter, Caullen. New york's New York, bruh!
[01:15:49] Sophie: Don't come at me bruh!
[01:15:49] David: Caullen, what about you? Any last thoughts on The Batman?
[01:15:54] Caullen: I just want a second-
[01:15:55] Sophie: Just do Bane for the people one time, please. Go grocery shopping, go-
[01:16:00] Caullen: (in Bane voice) I'mma try these carrots
[01:16:03] Sophie: Do Bane at Marianos
[01:16:04] Caullen: I should wear a mask too
[01:16:07] Sophie: Bane at Whole Foods, questioning the mask policy. I would pay to see that in Dolby cinema, I would pay to see that
[01:16:16] Caullen: In IMAX? Bring some IMAX cameras.
[01:16:18] David: Soapbox Productions will be working on that for the remainder of 2022
[01:16:22] Caullen: Black Bane goes to Whole Foods.
[01:16:26] David: That sounds like a good skit
[01:16:28] Sophie: And questions authority there
[01:16:30] Caullen: take back your Whole Foods
[01:16:32] David: he ends up getting arrested, that's what I'm hearing. Caullen getting arrested, I'll film that. Go ahead, Caullen
[01:16:39] Sophie: I really hope people are drinking while their watching this. Cause you can only accept this inebriated.
[01:16:46] Pearl: Please!
[01:16:46] Caullen: We should do a whole episode in voices. Let's do a whole episode. About something totally different.
[01:16:52] Sophie: I think the only one I can do is Jennifer Coolidge.
[01:16:56] Caullen: Give us a sample
[01:16:58] Sophie: (in Jennifer Coolidge voice) What do you mean, a mask?
[01:16:59] Caullen: Oh that was good!
[01:17:02] Sophie: (in Jennifer Coolidge voice) Get out of my face, Bane.
I need to project. But I got a little something something. Wow. This is- I've really really brought down the value in the stock of this franchise, of BNB. I apologize, listeners.
[01:17:21] David: I can't stand you. Caullen how you doing?
[01:17:24] Caullen: I'm good. I really appreciate what Pearl said about how we watch anything. I think especially things like this, that we're traditionally taught, oh, it's a superhero movie, oh, it's action, we're just being entertained, whatever. No, they're codifying all of these values and systems in it. It seems individual, but it's not. And we need to think critically about all of it. And you can do that and be entertained the same time. We all had a good time watching this film, and you've heard us run through it in the past 90 minutes.
So just going back to that media literacy, where that meets the power, oppression, and privilege model, I think it's always there and I think that's super important. So I'm glad Pearl mentioned that at the end. I think we all kind of believe in that.
[01:18:10] Pearl: Yes. You pay to be taken for a ride, but don't be taken for a ride
[01:18:14] Caullen: that's a bar
[01:18:15] Sophie: and do your own research.
[01:18:19] Pearl: that's all I got, thots
[01:18:19] Sophie: yo, bars. Nas is shaking.
[01:18:20] David: Nas is shaking. I appreciate y'all joining me for this first-of-many series for Whiskey and Watch. I think watching things also as an assignment was also interesting for me, just as digesting this. Cause this is probably the first piece, in a minute, cause I think the last thing we really did was Atlanta, Caullen, at least me and you. Where I literally just sat and had notes, and I paused, like, yo we're gonna- and so I think that there's also that. And so for all of our superhero fanatics, by all means get it. But I think these conversations are strong and they're prevalent in not only this Batman series, I know we can talk about the Marvel universe, and about other superhero movies, but also just other content. And so definitely stay tuned BNB listeners. Thank y'all for constantly supporting us.
Y'all get comfy with Sophie and Pearl, cause they gonna be sliding in and out of this series as we take into. I definitely just want to give a moment of appreciation to our 2 awesome homies. But from Bourbon 'n BrownTown, as always stay Black, stay Brown, stay queer,
[01:19:31] Caullen: (in Bane voice) stay tuned, stay turnt.
[01:19:33] David: See you next one
[01:19:36] Sophie: Guys, that was-
[01:19:37] Caullen: (in Bane voice) stay tuned, stay turnt.
2022's The Batman theme song by Michael Giacchino
[01:20:03] David: Bourbon 'n BrownTown is engineered by Kiera Battles. For more credits, information on episode guests, related media and topics check out the episode notes. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram at Bourbon 'n BrownTown, Twitter @BourbonnBrwnTwn. Or visit soapboxpo.com/podcast
[01:20:21] Caullen: For any and all things Soapbox Productions and Organizing, follow us @soapboxpo on all social media and visit soapboxpo.com.