On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh blamed Batman, specifically the new darker Batman character, for the Colorado shooting.
Transcript via Rush Limbaugh:
LIMBAUGH: So it’s been 221 years since the enactment of the Second Amendment; 600 years since the introduction of the rifle, a long-barreled weapon; and 150 years of pistols able to use more than one bullet. The time since Tim Burton took a charming, funny, and wholesome 1960s kids’ show…? I was thinking about this over the weekend. I remember watching Batman on television, and it was a cartoon show with human characters. Adam West was the guy who played Batman.
And every time Batman punched somebody, the word “POW!” in a comic book bubble came up. Burgess Meredith played the Penguin. I forget who was the Joker. Cesar Romero was the Joker. It was a comedy show. It was a cartoon show. It was a charming, funny, wholesome 1960s kids’ show that was on at 7:30 ET. But how long has it been since Hollywood metastasized that show with sick, dystopian, and occasionally anti-American worldviews? Do you know what “dystopian” means?
For those of you in Rio Linda, it’s the opposite of utopia. “Utopia” is perfection on earth. “Dystopia” is utter, total failure and chaos. Dark, dank, colorless, finished. It’s over. So Batman in the sixties on TV metastasizes to a sick dystopian, hyper-violent Batman movie in 23 years. Twenty-three years since Batman on TV to the first Batman movie. And the birth of the modern Batman series of films with which the killer in Aurora explicitly identified, by his own admission…
What are you frowning at me about, Snerdley?
But on the television. I’m talking about the television show, popular media. It was a kids’ show. It was harmless, family-oriented fun. You laughed at that show. Batman in the comics was not so much. It was still a comic book thing. Anyway, in 23 years since the Batman TV show, it’s become what this guy explicitly identified with. And then you can bring up Oliver Stone, if you want to. He made a movie called Natural Born Killers. It was a “love story.” Woody Harrelson was in it. It was a love story about mass murder.
Natural Born Killers.
That’s the movie the Columbine killers identified with.
That took 18 years. (They also kind of dug the Matrix movies.) The time in which the prevalence of spectacular, multiple murders for no obvious point other than celebrity has accelerated is approximately the past 20 years. We’ve had long-barreled rifles for 600 years. We’ve had multi-bullet pistols over 150 years. We’ve had the Second Amendment for 221 years. We have had spectacular multiple murders for no obvious point other than celebrity accelerated like crazy in the past 20 years.
My point is, how do you blame the Second Amendment? How do you blame the guns for this? The guns to do this kind of thing have been around for all kinds of time, but you can peg other elements in our culture that have been around lot less time and have much more influence (if you want to start arguing influence). I didn’t bring this up. I’m simply reacting to it like I always do. You want to start blaming the Second Amendment? You want to start blaming guns? Then let’s talk about it.
What are you shaking your head in there for?
I’m not blaming anybody. I’m reacting. I’m not blaming anybody. The guy who did this is who gets the blame. Look, I’m just not gonna sit here and listen to the Constitution of this country be blamed for this. I’m not gonna let that go. Pure and simple. They start the game; I’m gonna finish the game. I’m Mr. Moneybags in Monopoly, and I’m winning the cash in the middle of the board with the roll of snake eyes
(Sorry for the long transcript, but unlike the right, I refuse to take people out of context.)
While claiming he is not blaming anyone but the shooter, Rush Limbaugh blames Hollywood, Tim Burton, and seemingly Christopher Nolan for the Colorado shooting. Limbaugh’s argument is that if Hollywood wouldn’t have made Batman more violent 23 years ago, James Holmes would not have gone on his murderous rampage at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater.
This premise is almost as ridiculous as the idea that if the killer would not have had guns, he would not have went on his rampage. To the credit of many on the left, this has not been a widely held view. The more realistic statement is that if the killer would not have had access to an assault weapon, he would not have been able to shoot 70 people in two minutes.
Limbaugh offered up a bogus argument about Hollywood and Batman as a smokescreen, because the right doesn’t want to have a discussion about assault weapons. Contrary to what some conservatives believe, a conversation about the easy availability of assault weapons and large ammo clips is not an attack on the Second Amendment.
What Rush Limbaugh was trying to do here is painfully obvious. He wanted to blame Hollywood. He wants to blame the filmmakers, although where Tim Burton fits in here I have no idea. And deep beneath this jumble of talking points, Rush Limbaugh was blaming the left for the decline of American culture.
Yep, he went there. Good old Rush was pulling the culture war out of mothballs. The idea that Hollywood plays a role in the motivations of the killer because Hollywood made Batman a darker character is absurd.
Batman has always been a superhero that is a reflection of his times. At the height of World War II, Batman first came to film as a government agent. In the mid-1960s, Batman reflected his era and was a campy character. Tim Burton’s Batman was darker, but it played up Burton’s fascination with freaks. Burton’s films also have a dark, other worldly escapist quality that matched up with post-Reagan America. Perhaps, there hasn’t been a better film series that Nolan’s Batman trilogy to capture the dark American mood of the past six years. War, Katrina, and an economic collapse have loomed large over the nation.
On film, Batman is simply a reflection of his times.
The conservative answer to any problem is to return to the good old days. Their idea is that returning to 1960s Batman would not have prevented the Colorado shooting, but if Republicans really want to turn back the clock, they should look at restoring funding for mental health treatment and facilities that Ronald Reagan destroyed in the 1980s.
Blaming Hollywood’s presentation of Batman changes nothing, which is exactly what Limbaugh and his fellow conservatives want.