By: Tom Westerholm
“A devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, for the sake of argument. In taking such position, the individual taking on the devil’s advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process.”
I have been accused several times of merely arguing to be the Devil’s advocate; arguing just for the sake of continuing the discussion. While there may be some truth to this assertion (but no truth to the assertion that this makes me an internet hipster), I believe it goes a little bit deeper.
Here’s an example: when Casey Anthony was determined innocent by a jury, most people immediately jumped on the “Casey Anthony is the new OJ Simpson” bandwagon, as well as the “Dexter Morgan will now kill Casey Anthony” bandwagon. I, however, entered the fray with my contrarian views held high above my head. I argued that none of us were on the jury, and none of us were Casey Anthony. So not only would we be lying if we said we KNEW Casey Anthony murdered her child, since we weren’t Casey Anthony, we also weren’t the people best equipped to answer the question. That would be the jury.
The internet being the internet, I was called several unkind names, but I maintain my point that the truth is rarely as clear cut as we would like it to be.
This theme comes through in “The Dark Knight Rises.” (NOTE: Spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen the movie, do not continue.) In the trilogy’s second movie, Batman pretends to have killed Harvey Dent because the people of Gotham need a hero to believe in, and Harvey Dent was that hero until he went crazy and became a villain. The common perception of Batman is that he is a wanted man, a killer. This perception is, of course, wrong. But that perception isn’t what I want to talk about.
In TDKR, Bane is a man seemingly without a conscience. He has taken over Gotham and given it back to the criminals who were locked up, bringing anarchy back to streets. He also has rigged a nuclear time bomb to go off, because what good is a super hero movie without a nuclear time bomb that must be flown off over the ocean/into outer space/into another time dimension?
Throughout the movie, Bane is treated as invincible. When Batman fights him the first time, he, quite frankly, gets destroyed. Bane beats him to within an inch of his life, and Wayne is only allowed to live so that he can watch Bane destroy Gotham. But when Bane’s humanity, his “vincibility,” begin to show through, we begin to see a side of Bane that makes us less certain that he is entirely evil. In fact, unlike the Joker in the previous movie, Bane seems like a fairly explicable character. He is a man who helped a child escape a horrible prison, a man who then became wrapped in the child’s life. He was rescued from that same prison by R’as al Ghul (try spelling that name without looking it up), and now he wants to continue R’as al Ghul’s work of (essentially) destroying Gotham.
Bane’s mentor, a man who saved him from prison, wanted to destroy Gotham. Don’t Bane’s desires to do the same seem understandable? Rational, even?
I won’t make this part too heavy-handed, I promise. I just believe that in life, most people are like Bane: complex. We can’t be the entire judge of a person, and thank God (literally) that it isn’t our responsibility to do so.
Conclusions shouldn’t be reached easily because explaining people is hard. Maybe a conclusion that has been reached easily is, well, wrong.