[OPINION] Beyond Batman and Robin 1

[OPINION] Beyond Batman and Robin

Dean Dela Paz

Posted at May 19 2022 01:02 PM

In April 1940, eight-tenths of a century ago, an orphaned circus performer named Richard Grayson was taken in by a wealthy industrialist as his ward. In the fictional world of Bob Kane where his cowled detective, a fusing of Douglas Fairbanks and Sherlock Holmes, needed a Dr. Watson, the young ward, initially named “Mercury” was introduced. He was later named “Robin’’. Together with Bruce Wayne who was secretly the Batman, Robin became integral to Detective Comics.

Robin provided youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. Employing his innocence, Kane provided a medium for the Batman to explain the complexity of criminal investigations.

Kane’s Dynamic Duo were very human and very vulnerable. They had no armored suits and did not yet then have a high-technology Batmobile. Instead they had a 1939 Series 75 Cadillac driven by Alfred Pennyworth, a British butler and not a former SAS commando cum computer hacker.

Batman and Robin were not so much a swashbuckling pair of martial arts testosterone heroes as much as they were originally cerebral gumshoes who openly helped the police with the scientific spadework.

As Wayne and Grayson, they were fine and upstanding private citizens – inspiring role models. Contrast them now where the modern-day Batman is a sole, dark vigilante, often at odds with the police, operating extra-judicially, if not brutally. Wayne is emotionally troubled, damaged, stricken with a deep and profound angst over the killing of his parents.

Batman is no longer a detective; he has become a dark, vengeful, and violent vigilante. Alternate multi-verses and the popularization and kitsch of Hollywood revised his history. And they also got rid of Robin.

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Being woke was a revision factor. An adult billionaire playboy living alone with a young boy, both secretly donning flowing capes, kinky boots and skin-fitting tights at night was socially questionable.

But then, Batman and Robin were comic book heroes. Reality should be different.

If there is one thing slowly destroying history and culture as we know both, it is deliberate and brazen historical revisionism. Facts as we knew them are no longer important. Same with truth. With its demise disappear the values and norms these may have once represented. In its place is a malleable plastic term that recently entered latent lexicon. Where facts stood firmly, inviolate, pure, and unchanging, forming the firm solid basis from which we develop, create, and grow, there is a new term we seem to have become enamored with. We no longer refer to facts. In its place we use the rather fluid if not nebulous and fuzzy term “narrative”.

Those of us who value historical fact should all be aghast and actively question the brazen if not reckless attempts to change what should not be changed or distort what should not be distorted. All these attempts can be attributed simply to greed or the propensity to earn a quick buck on the assumption that memories are short, histories shorter, that people are gullible and their knowledge of the past, uneducated and prone to manipulation and collective ignorance.

At the core of the deterioration of history, facts, truth and perhaps our values, is the acceptance of the majority of the new narrative, compelled by lazy convenience, and maybe, even fear. Never mind that it might be mythical, conjured from thin air, or misconceptions, fakery, or convenient lies. Booker T. Washington could not have said it better. ‘’A lie does not become truth, wrong does not become right, and evil does not become good just because it is accepted by a majority’’.

While the Batman lore is fiction, we also have reality and historical revisionism based on the majority’s acceptance of an expedient and living lie. Life imitates art.

In the aftermath of defeat, to regain lost national pride amid astronomical hyperinflation (29,500% per month) and the Weimar Republic’s aging leader who Germans needed so desperately to replace, post-World War I Germany overwhelmingly embraced and welcomed a Fuhrer borne by lies and historical falsehoods. Offering a thousand year Reich (empire), by and large Adolph Hitler was accepted if not deified by the German majority. Never mind that he was both a plunderer and a genocidal psychopathic maniac.

Here in Asia, to retaliate against western economic pressures, Japan pushed an “Asia-for-Asians” paradigm, joined Hitler’s Axis Alliance, and plunged Asia into one of the bloodiest episodes of its speckled history. Curiously, the Emperor was loved by the majority of the Japanese. So also did his warmongering generals enjoy overwhelming acceptance.

Closer to home, belief in myths, fantasy and ancient pre-colonial treasure, however plundered eons ago yet now integral to a resurrected folkloric narrative has recently become part of an attempt to revise history. While Germany and Japan have since paid the price for historical revisionism the hard and painful way, obviously a majority has not yet learned its lesson. Bahala na si Batman.

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(Dean dela Paz is a former investment banker and a managing director of a New Jersey-based power company operating in the Philippines. He is the chairman of the board of a renewable energy company and is a retired Business Policy, Finance and Mathematics professor.)


Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.