Monday, 31 May 2010
Monday, 17 May 2010
Friday, 7 May 2010
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Zorro and Batman are both very similar. They fight for justice and freedom, they wear black cloaks and masks, they respond to cries for help, they have costumes which reduce their peripheral vision, they keep large caves in the basement where Batman stores weapons and machines designed to help him in his fight against the crimes of the city while Zorro stores a horse.
Zorro does not need anti-shark spray
The other thing they both have in common is that unlike the X-men, or the Fellowship of the Ring, they have almost no connection to the people they are fighting so ardently to protect. Batman is a rich multimillionaire trying to stop crime in what must be the most crime laden city in the world, while Zorro is a rich Spanish Don (Don Diago de la Vega) fighting to protect the native Californians from anyone who happens to be oppressing them (i.e all the other Dons). In both cases, this seems a little screwed, how much can you genuinely admit to be representing a people living in a world that is totally alien to your own.
(I probably give Batman a little more stick for this, but only because I actually like Zorro. Me and my sister went through a phase of watching the old Disney TV series when we were about 14 and the dodgy acting, complete melodrama, bad jokes, and totally fake-looking sets utterly sold it too me. Those series were amazingly bad and I loved every half-hour installment of them).
Starting with Batman then. His drive (as it were) for protecting the crime-ridden masses is that he lost his parents at a young age. Notwithstanding the fact that loosing any close family member must be one of the most horrible experiences ever, even the most grief-stricken experience does not exactly make you an expert about the life of people on the street. The people he is fighting to protect are going through hardships and experiences Bruce Wayne can barely even dream about. The big bad guys he's fighting might be sociopaths with bad dress sense, but the people working under them are just likely to be desperate in ways that Bruce will never experience. Added to which, Batman gets to come home each evening, to a warm bath, something to fix his injuries, and plenty of food. Anyone who might have suffered any collateral damage due to Batmobile crashes, brawls or shifts in the underground economic situation is left to starve to death on the streets of Gotham.The only source of income for three children getting punched in the face.
Zorro is slightly better, because he's usual quite clear about the fact that he only attacks the rich or corrupt, and because there's only so much collateral damage you can do with a sword and a horse. In fact I don't think anyone actually ended up dead throughout the entire TV series (the films and comics are another matter) mostly because the people Zorro ended up fighting were the people that Diago de la Vega was friends with.
Which raises what is probably the most worrying consideration for Zorro: he can achieve quite a lot by fighting with his mask on, but you get the feeling he could achieve even more by taking it off. He's a rich influential Don, if he placed his support firmly with the local populace and used his actual money and influence to make a difference rather than just his sword he could probably have a much greater positive affect.
Which again leads to another consideration that both Batman and Zorro never seem to consider. They are very rich. The people they are supposedly fighting for are very poor. Could Zorro not have built just one school? Batman not paid for a few social workers, or less-corrupt policemen? At the very least he could have given those policeman that could be trusted (there must have been at least one) some of his amazing bat-related weapons.
You throw it into the sharks mouth and then fire!
But they never do. The money gets saved for yet more inventive ways to kill people (in the case of Batman) or even more overdone ornamental waistcoats (in the case of Zorro). Batman continues to try and control a city of crime-lords and desperate people by violently attacking them, totaling their cars, blowing up their buildings and spraying their sharks, while Don Diago continues to plot by night to kill (or maim and humiliate in the TV series) the people he's friends with by day. For both of them it comes off as a bit of a rich boys hobby because they can both just stop any time they want. They don't of course but the fact is that they could and, because of the whole 'hidden identity' issue they are never, ever, at the risk of facing any actual consequences for the actions they carry out in costume. Batman never has to cough up car insurance. Zorro never has to pay for new trousers for the hilariously-fat Sergeant who rips at least one pair every episode. They can continue wrecking trails of destruction through peoples lives and then retire at the end of it to a nice big meal in a nice warm house.
It's an interesting thing to notice that the more recent films of both of these characters immediately try to redress these balances. Zorro stops being a Spanish Don, and becomes Antonio Bandaras, whose actually meant to be one of the local populace, and is therefore fighting for his own freedom. Bandaras-Zorro also doesn't have to maintain a second life as a Don. He pretends to be rich and famous at one point, but it's not a life that he has to maintain, it's as much of an act as the Zorro is and far more temporary. Likewise Batman becomes a bit more accountable and in 'Batman begins' they play around a lot with the idea that Gotham would probably be a fairly similar place to live if Batman were to vanish one day, after all, he's been in Gotham for decades now, and the crime rate there isn't exactly going down.
The newer, grittier, more-screwed-up Batman is a lot more realistic, and even if he does come off a little as a rich boy playing at being policeman (but a more cool policeman) he's at least wearing trousers now. But I think I'll always prefer Zorro, despite the fact that he comes off as a lot more sociopathic and selfish in his insistence on remaining masked. Batman has an entire bat-cave full of top-weaponry and dangerous toys and at the end of each story-arc Gotham is as crime ridden as ever. Zorro has a sword and a horse, and by the end of the Bandaras film he's saved an entire American state and married Catherine Zeta Jones.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
That post was a therapeutic rant as a break after finishing my thesis. I know other people hold different views, and would be very pleased to hear about them :)