|Posted by douggoodman on January 22, 2016 at 1:05 PM||comments (0)|
I have a theory that Batman is Bruce Wayne's alter. The theory goes that Bruce Wayne suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder from his parent's deaths. The alternative personality "Batman" was created to protect Bruce from this traumatic memory. To that end, the alter wages a vigilante war on Gotham's crime problem.
So far I think most of you are with me. I also think some of you might want to say "Duh? So?" So let me go into a little more detail. First, an introduction to DID. I've been doing research on it for my upcoming book, Shark-Toothed Grin, which is in part about DID. This is where I'm getting my information. Please feel free to take with a grain of salt or comment below if your research/experience is different.
Dissociative Identity Disorder is the current model of what most people refer to as multiple personality disorder, or split personalities. Like so many other disorders, there are a lot of shades to DID. But for the purposes of this theory, a person with DID has two or more personalities. There are the normal operating personalities, and there are the alternative personalities created to deal with a traumatic memory. In this case, Bruce Wayne is the normal operating personality, the personality most people associate with. Then there is the Batman, the Dark Knight, who is Bruce Wayne's alter. The two personalities work together to help Bruce Wayne deal with the tragic loss of his parents. Batman helps cope with memories. He sweeps in and takes over and fixes things for Bruce Wayne. The two alters are cognizant of each other's existence.
A lot about how the character works can be explained using DID. Batman is studious and angry. Bruce is calm and cool. If there is a problem, the Batman alter takes over, even if Bruce Wayne has not changed his wardrobe. The alter is there and in charge and uses his vast knowledge and superior will to fix the problem and solve the crime. Once the problem has been resolved, Batman goes away and Bruce Wayne comes back.
My research about DID mentions co-morbidity as a symptom. This means that DID is usually not the only disorder going on. There are usually other disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc. that are also existent in the person suffering from DID. This makes DID difficult to diagnose. But for the purposes of this theory, it also may explain some of the villains he approaches. Many of his villains can be interpreted as pyschological disorders from mania (Joker) to obsessive personalities such as the Mad Hatter. One of the most stereotypical portrayals of DID is Harvey Dent/Two-Face. I find it interesting that Harvey Dent is usually portrayed as a one-time best friend to Bruce Wayne. Is it possible that Bruce Wayne is projecting his own psychological disorders onto the villains he faces? He is obsessive and manic. Perhaps what we see as an outrageous villain is merely Bruce Wayne trying to deal with mental health issues born of his family's tragedy.
Think about it. What if the villains are no more than Bruce Wayne hallucinating or hearing voices? These are Schneiderian sypmtoms, which will appear in people suffering from DID.
Now let me spin this out further: What if all the villains are his alters? Have you ever noticed that Batman does not kill people (intentionally)? He may leave them for dead, but he always tries to bring these villains to justice. He can't kill them because they are him. It would be like tearing off your own arm. If you follow the DID theory further, you may interpret the villains not as just people he is projecting his own psychoses on, but actual alternative personalities. In that way, there is Penguin, and a Joker, and yes, even a Catwoman inside his mind. Bringing them to justice may be his way of trying to integrate these alternative personalities into his world. Justice is treatment. Alters can be evil, they be violent, they can even change gender. So how much of the Rogues Gallery is all in Batman's head?
When they are brought to justice, they are taken to Arkham Asylum. The more I am thinking about it, the more I'm thinking there is only one person in Arkham Asylum, and his name is Bruce Wayne. Have you ever looked at images of Arkham Asylum? Big, gothic building with lots of rooms, right? In the Batman universe, there is another large, gothic building with lots of rooms. It is called Wayne Manor. Is there a chance that Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum are the same place?
I don't know that DID explains every detail about Bruce Wayne's world. But it would be very ineresting (and I would love to write) a version of Batman that is about a man who created an alter to deal with the tragic loss of his parents, but for whom more alters were created, and now he is trying to pull them all together to come to terms with his psychological disorder. What do you think?
|Posted by douggoodman on December 20, 2015 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
It is a month away from Batman v Superman, so I thought now would be a good time to write an "I have a theory" about Superman. In a couple of weeks, I will put out a theory about Batman.
I was thinking about the show Scrubs. Scrubs, if you didn't know, was an always-entertaining comedy about a young doctor working at a medical university. It has a cool opening credits song with one of the most memorable end lines: "I'm No Superman." I want to argue differently. I have a theory that Scrubs is actually about Superman. But before I merge the two stories, I have to talk about an old Superman Annual by Alan Moore called "For the Man Who Has Everything."
"For the Man Who Has Everything" is one of Alan Moore's best standalone comics. It is about Superman's birthday. In it, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman have traveled to Superman's Fortress of Solitude to celebrate his birthday. But somebody else (a villain named Mongul) has arrived before them. He has given Superman a strange plant/fungus hybrid, which is attached to Superman. The plant/fungus monster is called the Black Mercy and has psychic powers (natch). The Black Mercy has the power to give you what you've always wanted by trapping you in a dream-like world where everything works out. For Superman, Krypton was restored. For Batman, his parents were never murdered. Much of the plot revolves around the superheroes living out these perfect lives. I made a connection between the Black Mercy and Scrubs.
JD is Superman. More specifically, he is Clark Kent. Check the letters. What comes after C? D. Before J? K. Switch them around (because this is a backwards world, as evidenced many times over by the backwards chart used in the opening credits). CK becomes JD. Clark Kent becomes John Dorian. And like Superman, Clark is trapped under the spell of the Black Mercy. He is in a world where Superman does not exist, and Clark is the star of this world. Sure, he stumbles and bumbles his way through life, but he is the center of this world, not a secret identity. In fact, he has gone from being a journalist writer to being a doctor. So he is financially successful (or at least, he will be. It seems very "Clark Kent" that even in his dreams, he is a doctor who does not make a lot of money.)
When you think about the format of the show, it only seems to heighten the idea that this is a dream world. It is full of surreal moments and . dream sequences. In JD's dream sequences, usually everything works out, or at least, life is a lot more fun. This is because life when you do not have Superman's responsibilities and didacts is much more fun. You don't have all of Superman's responsibilities and drama. There are no interstellar battles or worlds to save. You just have to get through the day.
I haven't decided who the other characters are or how they play into this. On the one hand, it seems pretty easy to see some of the characters as interpretations of the people Clark Kent knows. His boss, Perry, is easily Dr. *ahem* Perry Cox, Lois Lane becomes Elliot, and Jimmy Olsen isTurk. Then again, maybe Dr. Cox is Batman and Elliot is Wonder Woman. That would make Turk more like...? I'm not sure. But Turk has a Superman tattoo on his right shoulder, and it appears often enough in the show. This seems like a symbol meant for JD/Clark Kent, perhaps a warning that everything is not right in the world, and he needs to fight this reality to rejoin the real world. He must stop living in his heart, which is how Clark Kent lives. That is why the setting is Sacred Heart, and why Dr. Cox is always trying to get JD/Clark Kent to stop showing his emotions. He needs to think with his head (like Superman) and reject this world that Mongul has trapped him in.
In "For the Man Who Has Everything," Superman is living the perfect life with his wife and children. He works with his father, but there are issues on Krypton. There is a group of what I'd call fundamentalist Kryptonians, who want things to be the way they were. By this point in the story's plot, Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman are getting their butts kicked by Mongul. They need Superman to stop the villain. So Batman shouts at the comatose Superman that they are all going to die. In his mind, Superman hears the fundamentalists making the same kind of predictions: We are all going to die, and the world is coming to an end! (Remember what happens to Krypton in Superman's origin?) Similarly, in Scrubs, everyone keeps trying to wake up JD. Seriously, watch a few episodes. If they aren't poking him or yelling at him, they are talking about his dreams and wondering how he lives with his head so clouded up with dreams. This all makes sense in the perspective that JD is Superman because they are literally trying to wake Clark Kent up.
Now, the finale really brings this all together. In the finale, JD is finally accepting responsibility. He is thinking with his head. He has a woman he adores and a baby on the way. He is going from character to character, saying his goodbyes. he turns a corner, and the corridor is lined on both sides with all the crazy characters he has encountered while he has been under the psychic entrapments of the Black Mercy. The people he has met (all figments of his own imagination) are all smiling at him and giving him their little catch phrases. And then he turns around, and they have suddenly all vanished.
This is JD/Clark Kent accepting the imaginary world he has lived in and finally starting to wake up from the Black Mercy. In its death throes, the Black Mercy shows him everything that could go right in this world, the world where Clark Kent wins. He gets the beautiful girl, has a child, and has a good life surrounded by people he loves. In the show (see below), he literally gets to watch his future life pass before him like a movie reel.
I would like to think that once JD woke up as Superman, he knocked the stuffing out of Mongul.
So there you have it: the theory that JD is actually Superman. If you liked it, leave a comment, and soon enough I will put up my Batman theory.
|Posted by douggoodman on August 6, 2012 at 12:25 AM||comments (6)|
Ok, so you knew it had to happen sooner or later. Anytime you have a giant commercial success like The Walking Dead, people are going to eventually begin to compare it to other things. First, the show was compared to the comic book. Then the show/comic book was compared to other zombie movies. (You know you heard the banter about which was better - Night of the Living Dead, the new Dawn of the Dead, or The Walking Dead. If you didn't, you don't know the people I do.) Almost as quickly, Lost came into to picture. In this 2010 article, the LA Times asked "Is this 'Lost' in transition?", though I'm pretty convinced most of the comparisons are either too forced or too generic. But who really cares about comparing Walking Dead to modern cinema and pop culture? More importantly, have we compared post-apocalyptic zombie fiction to children's literature yet? No? Why haven't we? We need to fix this. What better way to do this than to compare a beloved children's book about wayward rabbits to a violent modern diaspora.
At first glance, you probably won't think of comparing rabbits and zombies. (When is the movie about rabbit zombies going to be made?) Let's see, it's rabbits are to zombies as dandelions are to Wes Craven, right? So until I read through at least half of Watership Down, I wouldn't have seen any similarities, either. But I got to talking with Mrs. Bad Ass, and that's when it hit me like a brained zombie: The Walking Dead is a lot like Watership Down! Rabbits do equal zombies! And if you give me a minute to explain my insanity, maybe you will, too.
I have to be fair, though. Before I begin comparing, it must be said that Watership Down is less The Velveteen Rabbit and more like Homer's The Odyssey. Bunnies aside, this is an epic story, fully set in the traditions of Joseph Conrad and Carl Jung. (Google them if you don't know the names.) So it is no surprise that many non-YA stories will compare to Watership Down. Name any epic, and you probably can make a b-r-o-a-d comparison, which has less to do with the fiction than it does the canon. After all, Watership Down is the story of a people who rise up against tyrants to try to set up their own land. If that doesn't sound like Star Wars/Braveheart/Lawrence of Arabia, well...nevermind, cause it does. The only difference is that instead of William Wallace fighting the English or the Rebel Alliance fighting Darth Vader, you have Hazel and his warren fighting a nasty rabbit named General Woundwort.
So back to The Walking Dead. The format of the comic book/show is not pitting one society against another in an epic Thunderdome battle of two-man-enter, one-man-leave. Instead, it's a story of day-to-day survival with an emphasis on realism in a very cruel world. That realism is important. Yes, I said realism. Probably not the first word to come to your mind when describing a zombie movie, but follow me here. There is actually a lot of tradition in this. Once you move beyond the idea of zombies roaming the earth, there is a lot of realism inherent in zombiedom. This comes from the idea of zombie stories as survival tales. (BTW - it is no surprise to me that since zombies became an uber-pop cultural icon about 10-15 years ago, "survival/prepper shows" started to become popular, too. The lack of modern convenience becomes a threat personified by the zombies.)
This is the side of The Walking Dead that I think really starts to compare to Watership. Like Rick Grimes and his family, Hazel and the other rabbits are searching a very real world for a place to call home. Richard Adams, who wrote Watership Down, read the naturalist Robert Lockley's The Private Life of the Rabbit, and it influenced the writing of his little book of fighting rabbits.
In this realistic world, the rabbits encounter several different societies while they try to form their own. First, they meet a strange warren (read: rabbit community) where everybody seems oddly peaceful and well-fed, yet nobody answers the question of where. For Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig, not answering questions goes against their character. They are survivors of the bunny apocalypse! They must know how the new warren works so they will know if they fit in. After escaping that mysterious society, they find another version of civilization at a farm. The farm has a run of pet rabbits who have lived their entire lives in the run, being fed and preened and taken care of by humans. So these rabbits don't know how to make decisions. They've never had to make one in their life. These rabbits are kind of the Charleston/Falling Skies people who don't know much about what's happened since the alien apocalypse. They are also like several of the Washington D.C. societies that Rick Grimes and co. encounter, who are not used to fending off zombies or have the strength of the survivors. They all kind of echo Barbara from NotLD, unwilling to move or get out of the way of an attacking zombie.
Eventually, though, the hero rabbits do find a perfect little home. (YEA! Carrots for everyone!!!) This is the downs at Watership. The downs provide the similar "safehaven" benefits of zombie movies, whether it is a house, a mall, or even a tank. First and foremost, the perfect living community offers protection from elil predators or zombies, as the case may be. Unfortunately for the survivors of The Walking Dead, after coming to the abandoned prison with its massive fences, they soon come into conflict with a nearby version of civilization called Woodbury, a community created and lorded over by a maniacal tyrant named "the Governor." (Err...spoiler alert for anyone not watching the show, I guess. Sorry about that, though I don't think it's a big spoiler.)
For the Watership Down warren, their version of Woodbury is the Efrafa warren, created and lorded over by a maniacal tyrant named "General Woundwort." (Next rabbit I buy is being named General Woundwort, by the way.) The Governor and the General are similar in their tyrannical need to control the inhabitants in their civilization. What that level of control should be is always at debate with the survivors. How much freedom should any person have, and what are the consequences of that freedom? In the world of The Walking Dead, a person who is free is a person who can kill their comrades or attract zombies.
Then there is the zombies comparison. Yes let's talk zombies. Brains! Brains! Brains! Nom! Nom! Nom!Zombies play a crucial role in The Walking Dead and Watership Down, though you won't see rabbits slurping the guts from another rabbit. (Sorry!) But you can't have The Walking Dead without zombies. They are the ever-present, ever-constant reminder of the precarious position of mankind. And they are everywhere. In barns, houses, ditches, gymnasiums, you name it. They wait when you least expect it to bite your ankles and end your life. They are the horde, the multitude; and in Watership Down, they are elil, translated from rabbit-speak as the Thousand, meaning all the different kinds of predators that prey on rabbits. The Thousand provide the same kind of pivotal plot roles that you find from zombies. More importantly, though, the Thousand are there to remind the rabbits of Watership Down that no matter what they do, civilization cannot stop death from coming. The presence of death is a major theme running through this dark YA novel. Whether it's the White Blindness or The Black Rabbit of Inlé, a fox or a weasel, death is something the rabbits will not be able to evade. All they can hope for is a warm den to keep out the cold and keep them hidden from the dangers so they do not have to ask themselves to fight or flee.
So there you have it, folks. The first ever complete essay comparing Watership Down to The Walking Dead. Thank you, and let me know if you want me to speak at your next convention (what do you think of the convention topic: Why Killer Rabbits Are Just As Cool As Shuffling Zombies?). One thing, though – do not try to rip me off and make this your junior year thesis. I will hunt you down. Like a zombie. I may not arrive today or tomorrow, but eventually my shuffling butt will get there.
Did you say you want something more like a conclusion, something that shows how the books can interact? Fine. I am a slave to the keyboard.
Feeding, fighting, fleeing, and breeding are the central motivations of these books. In Watership Down, having "kittens" is what it’s all about. In The Walking Dead, one of the great mysteries is the effect of a cruel world on children, and whether or not it is right to have children in an undead world. Maybe in the series the survivors will come to the same conclusion as the rabbits, that having children is central to civilization. They are the keepers of the flame, to steal a line from The Road.
Booyah! Ended with a Road hook!
Ed update 3/29/13: Made a few editorial tweaks.