07/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

America's Two Faces



The two images that will dominate the American media this weekend are for once not Obama and McCain, but rather the competing movies at the box office, the images of which dare I say it, can be seen to represent the dichotomy of the American landscape. One, the bleak and paranoid vision of Gotham that is The Dark Knight wanders through the territory of torture and urban decay and ponders rather somberly the question that really sums up the whole terrorism problem- how do you deal with someone who just wants to watch the world burn? As metaphors go for the world that 9/11 has brought us thats not bad. On the other side of the street is the perpetually sunny face of American optimism, filtered through the swedish pop of Abba. Mamma Mia! Meryl Streep already looks like an oscar candidate (she dances! she sings!), as does Heath Ledger's quite discomforting performance as the Joker. And there you have it: this is how world sees America. On the one hand a land of perpetual optimism, where a man (or woman) can leave the past behind and become who they want to be, find love and happiness, marry who they want and sing and dance to their heart's content. Perhaps even become President, as long as they were born here (sorry Arnie). The other America, the one that expresses itself in Abu Ghraib and some of our less pleasant inner city areas, is the face of Christian Bale's tortured hero, doing bad things in the name of good and having to live with the fact that no matter what he does worse things will happen. The tragedy is that no matter who we vote for we are all hoping for Mamma Mia's vision of happiness, and no matter who wins we are likely to end up with some version of the Batman, an elected hero/antihero sitting alone in an office trying to make the least bad decision in a world gone increasingly haywire.