Tag Archives: batman

Beyond Batman

Dr. Sacco Reaches Out to Interested Students

Dr. Giuseppe Sacco, who recently spoke on campus about his sociological and political interpretation of the Batman movies, is encouraging any USF students or faculty who would like to continue the conversations from his speech, “Batman as Metaphor: A Conservative/Liberal Hero Confronting an Ever-Changing Menace,” to contact him via email.

Any interested students may reach Sacco at g.sacco@virglio.it

Batman as a Metaphor of America

Conservative/Liberal Hero Confronting an Ever-changing Menace

Dr. Giuseppe Sacco brings his expertise in international politics and its relationship with cinema to campus.

Many a college kid is familiar with Batman and Joker, the superhero and supervillain; not so many with Batman and Joker, super cultural symbols of American politics.

And yet, that is precisely the argument Dr. Giuseppe Sacco, editor-in-chief of The European Journal of International Affairs and professor of political science at the University of Rome, La Sapienza, presented to students this past Monday, February 10 at a speech called “Batman as a Metaphor of America: a Conservative/Liberal Hero Confronting an Ever-changing Menace.”

Sacco, who published a book in Italian about the political significance of Batman and Joker in all eight American Batman films — “Batman & the Joker: the Face and the Mask of America” (“Volti e Maschere dell’America”) — paralleled the ever-changing villains of the Batman movies (from Prince Daka to the Joker to Poison Ivy to Two Face) to personifications of the changing obstacles in American politics at the time the movies were made (from political corruption to environmental protection to theories of social good.)

He also analyzed Batman as a symbol of American heroism, and moreover, a symbol of the conservative and liberal divide in American politics.

“I’m not a movie critic,” Sacco said, “but I’ve seldom seen in a movie such deep political meaning.”

In the 1997 film “Batman & Robin,” Batman (George Clooney) faces two villains: Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzzeneger) and Poison Ivy/Dr. Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman). Sacco explained that Mr. Freeze, as a villain who stakes hold ups in effort to finance a search for a medicinal cure for his terminally ill wife, represents science as a social responsibility; while, Poison Ivy, as a villain who makes all plants either poisonous or carnivorous so that they may protect themselves from man, represents environmental responsibility.

At the time this film was made, Former President Bill Clinton was leading America in a time of very little war, said Sacco. “So the main concerns in American culture could be the environment, the revolt of nature, and science,” he said. “By choosing to help Mr. Freeze with a cure for his wife, but not Poison Ivy, Batman chooses to save the scientist, the medicine, but does not help the environment.”

“The way Batman acts towards the environment is very conservative,” said Sacco, continuing, “but the way he acts towards social science and medicine, very liberal. This is politically significant because it personifies the divide in American thought in this American superhero.”

Clarissa Marchia, a sophomore media studies student, attended the event for class. “It’s cool [Sacco] related something a lot of teens know about to something on a larger scale like politics,” she said.

“It’s important that we, as young people, are able to see these parallels between film and what’s going on in the government because reality is often reflected in the media we take in,” said Stephanie Castaneda, a senior media studies major.

Sacco will be presenting the speech for a second time today, Thursday February 13, in Kalmanovitz. For event details, contact Krislyn Tanka at ktanaka2@usfca.edu or 415-422-2802. 

A better turn out than the Giant’s Parade. San Francisco turns Union Square into Gotham City to make one little boy’s dream come true. (Photo by Nicholas Welsh)

A Dream Come True: Five-Year-Old Batkid Saves Gotham City

San Francisco’s Chief of Police hopes that one day Mayor Ed Lee will praise him the way he praised Miles Scott, the five-year-old cancer survivor who saved San Francisco/Gotham City from terrible criminals last Friday. Police Commissioner Greg Suhr, acting as Commissioner Gordon, was one of many Batman characters present for the day of elaborate festivities in which young Miles’ biggest wish — to be Batman — became a reality. Miles, who thought he was just picking out a Batman costume to play around the house, ended up spending the day riding around in a tricked out Lamborghini “Batmobile” and fighting crimes committed by the Riddler and the Penguin.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation organized the event, which they say drew around 10,000 people to the streets of “Gotham City” to watch Miles rescue a damsel in distress, stop a bank robbery, and save Giants’ mascot Lou Seal from a terrible fate. A flash mob in Union Square to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” helped direct the Batkid, who was accompanied by his sidekick Robin (his little brother) and an adult Batman (acrobat/inventor Eric Johnson) to the scene of a crime. After defeating the mischievous criminals, Miles brought them to City Hall. The Riddler and the Penguin were indicted by members of the San Francisco branch of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office and FBI, and the Batkid was hailed as a hero. Miles was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Lee in front of the crowd of thousands gathered in the Civic Center Plaza.

“It was moving. That many people coming out for one five-year-old…it says a lot about how good people are,” sophomore Patrick Cairns said.

Miles, who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 18 months old, is currently in remission. While on stage with Mayor Lee, the five-year-old held up his arm in triumph. For him, he was celebrating the victory over crime — but to the crowd, it was a symbol of his triumph over the deadly disease.

“Those people didn’t just come out for Miles; they came out for everyone who has leukemia, you know? If it had been another kid, even one who wasn’t as cute, they still would have come out,” Cairns said.

The event, which has been in the works since March, was never intended to get as big as it did. Miles’ story went viral on social media, inspiring people around the world to comment, share, and re-post. The hashtag #SFBatKid was rampant on Twitter, and even President Obama joined in to congratulate the Batkid via video after he saved Gotham: “Way to go, Miles; way to save Gotham.”