It was arguably yesterday's biggest laugh-out-loud article in showbiz. The Mayor of Batman, Turkey is suing Warner Bros and Chris Nolan personally for not getting permission to use the name 'Batman' in the film The Dark Knight.
The biggest question, of course, was why Mayor Huseyin Kalkan was only suing Chris Nolan and Warner Bros, and not the eight-billion or so people over 69 years who have profited from the character of Batman. Why not sue DC Comics, Tim Burton, Bruce Timm, Adam West, or I dunno, the heirs of Batman creator Bob Kane (but not Bill Finger, nope, cause he of course had nothing to do with creating Batman)?
Everyone's favorite paragraph was the one towards the end, in which the Mayor explained the very real harm done by The Dark Knight and the stealing of the name Batman:
"The mayor is prepping a series of charges against Nolan and Warner Bros., which owns the right to the Batman character, including placing the blame for a number of unsolved murders and a high female suicide rate on the psychological impact that the film's success has had on the city's inhabitants."
Absurd, insane, ridiculous, right? Well of course, but the truth is far more disturbing. Apparently the town of Batman, Turkey does have a high rate of female suicides, and Batman is to blame. Not the caped crusader, but the town itself. As the New York Times reported two years ago, the city of Batman, Turkey has an inordinate number of so-called 'Honor Suicides'. What's an honor suicide? Well, it's like an honor killing, but better! Instead of a young girl or woman being murdered by her own family for some random sexual offense (adultery, sex before marriage, getting raped, glancing at a boy, etc), the 'shamed' family makes the girl kill herself.
Immediately after 9/11, Bill Maher had a handful of discussions on Politically Incorrect about how we on the left could still be our lefty tolerant selves and still admit that our western culture was better in some ways. In our bid to be uber-sensitive and uber-tolerant, we sometimes have a problem coming out and saying that someone else's culture is wrong. That, in this day in age, we still have literally half the human race who is disenfranchised and/or subject to the most base forms of cruelty and suppression for no particular reason... it's something that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Oh, we cry on and on about racism or bigotry, or the occasional ethnic genocide, but the systematic cultural destruction of literally half the planet is completely taken for granted.
Joss Whedon had an essay about this last year. Although equating honor killings with distasteful ads for Captivity is a bit much, it's worth a read. Just as we invented racism to justify slavery as a Christian practice, our entire globe has constantly invented reasons to hold unnatural power over the female race. But unlike racism or antisemitism, many of these myths universally agreed upon and accepted as at least partially true, even by allegedly progressive thinkers and alleged liberal minds.
We liberals do it when we obsess about Sarah Palin's outfits instead of her ideas. We do it when we don't complain when a a razor sharp and powerful attorney can only be accepted as an electable first lady if she all but promises to only be a housewife for the next four years (and remember the outrage when Dr. Howard Dean's wife refused to stop her own medical practice and campaign with him back in 2004?). We do it when we don't wonder why talk show hosts always introduce their female guests as 'the lovely, the talented...' (first off, why is their beauty more important than their talent, and why does their beauty matter?). We do it when we aren't outraged that in 2008, women still make, on average, 77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. Oh we don't like it, but it's accepted as 'just the way things are'. Obviously, it's a far cry from murder and enslavement, but when we accept the notions of the 'traditional' female roles, when we do not question why those roles became accepted as the norm, we are playing a small role in condoning the extremist societies that would punish breaches of said traditional roles with violence and banishment.
But our culture, as flawed as it is when it comes to gender, is still better than theirs. Yes, some cultural warriors on the right may want us to regress a bit in the name of 'traditional families', and they may even be joined from time to time by certain feminist factions on the left, in the name of 'protecting women'. But our culture is still better. I hope that this Batman lawsuit gets national play, and that the media (mainstream or otherwise) is willing to shine the light on the absurdity of the situation. The violent subjugation of the female race cannot be pardoned as a by-product of religion, any religion. Any culture that allows it or condones it should never be treated with the same respect on the world stage as those who do not. And any God that would approve of it is not worthy of worship.