Batman Is A Classic Example English Literature Essay

characters and episodes as if they were aspects of the private sectarian

world."I think that this possibility to find a good quote in a movie that can be used in real life is also some form of transmedia. Through this quote, the movie kind of oversteps the boundaries from fiction to reality. There is this one very famous quote from The Dark Knight, where Harvey Dent says: �You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.� However, I think that the main reason this movie got so much attention was the brilliant acting of Heath Ledger, playing the Joker. I remember that the movie came out in the summer and for Halloween, half of the people(at least) dressed up as the Joker. The character�s make up in the movie was very special and different to the adaptations before. Of course another aspect that has to be considered of course is that Heath Ledger died the same year and the performance in The Dark Knight was seen as his most brilliant and memorable role ever.

Another form of transmedia that comes to my mind is the absolutely awesome video games based on Batman. A good friend and I discovered the XBOX game Batman: Arkham Asylum and played through at least two time by now, we also played the sequel Batman: Arkham City, which was just okay. However, I played Arkham Asylum long after I watched The Dark Knight. When I came to see Batman Begins, I was absolutely thrilled to discover all the characters that are also in the game. As you might have by now guessed, I kind of like Batman. I even went to Vienna and watched the Batman Live musical last year, which was really weird but still fun, and my friend and I were by far the oldest people there. To conclude, Batman in every way is a master example of transmedia story telling.

What came to my attention while reading the comic is that Bechdel decides to always write brand names on the everyday things drawn in the comic. In this way we know that the family likes to eat Sunbeam bread, has a vacuum cleaner from Electrolux, that Alison likes to wear Adidas shirts and has Crayola crayons. But why does Bechdel do that? To show the reader that she has a tremendous memory and is able to remember every brand that she ever used as a kid? Or maybe she gets paid through product placement? Because sometimes it seems kind of intentionally that we see which brand a certain item has.

I think the reason for mentioning all these brands on the one hand certainly shows her incredible memory, but on the other hand the brands stand for something. The fact alone that Bechdel�s parents are able to buy so many books and put so much time and also money into renovating old houses shows that they have to be upper middle class to afford that. Also when you look at the Sunbeam bread and various other items, it is an indicator of their financial and social situation. However, when I think back to my childhood, I still know some brands of things that we constantly used in our family, although certainly not as many as Bechdel puts into her drawing. Another reason for including all these brand names could be that they were just very typical things to have in those years and therefore give an impression of time without the author constantly mentioning it.

Another thing that is always drawn in quite detail are the various book titles to be seen in the comic. Most of those are really all time classics, and some are certainly more specific and somehow seem to have some relevance to the story itself. It seems that one major thing that Bechdel remembers about her father are all the books he read and what he said about them. I think that this is also the reason why she remembers so many of them, just because they were an important part of her fathers character.

One very interesting argument raised by Judith Butler in her text Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of �Sex� is that of theconstruction of �sex�. She brings up the question �if gender is constructed, then who is doing the constructing?� I find this very interesting because it is frequently argued that �sex� and gender are only constructs of society and they are made up of fixed roles associated to the two genders and are accompanied by a lot of stereotypes. Some people try to counteract this early classification of gender by dressing their children in gender neutral colors and giving them gender neutral toys. In how far that makes sense has to be argued. However, Butler raises another point in saying that �sex� somehow contributes to defining what is human. She says that �We see this most clearly in the examples of those abjected beings who do not appear properly gendered; it is their very humanness that comes into question.� This is very interesting because usually it is very easy to determine the gender of a person and this happens subconsciously. But whenever there is some ambiguity and we are not sure about the gender, we try to figure it out. The reason for this, as Butler already said, is that �sex� is an important feature of being human, and if we are not able to figure it out it is somehow strange for us. Butler also brings up the question that �if �sex� is a fiction,

it is one within whose necessities we live, without which life itself would be unthinkable?� I am not really sure in how far a society without gender classification would work, it could be that it works just fine. There are certainly enough examples where a gender distinction is absolutely unnecessary, think only in the professional field. Actually, on quick thought, I cannot think of any field where a gender distinction is really necessary and helpful.

In From Hell, the representation of history certainly is in the main focus next to the myth of Jack the Ripper itself of course.

First of all, we all know about the myth of Jack the Ripper. I am not sure in how far it is really proven that the Ripper actually was a well known doctor who was chosen for this task by the queen herself, and I do not know if the freemasons were that included as well. It seems to me to be a bit of a conspiracy theory, but still, the way it is represented in the book certainly seems plausible. And also the involvement of the Freemasons and the royalty would most certainly be an explanation why we do not really know who the Ripper eventually was.

What is curious about From Hell is that the author gives us so many historical details, exact dates and places that it gives the impression of being very historically accurate. Of course, most of the events can be reconstructed by the old newspaper articles and therefore the dates used are certainly true. One effect of providing the reader with so many historical dates and facts is that it certainly enhances and increases the horror we feel while reading it. We as the readers are constantly reminded that these horrifying murders really took place. What also contributes to the terrifying effect of the story is, that the supposed murderer, Dr. Gull, is a man of high social rank, very educated and functioning member of society. If it were some crazy lunatic committing all these murders I am not sure in how far we would still be talking about this story today. It is just that one would not expect an educated person to be able to such horrifying cruelty. What I am still wondering about is why he thought he had to mutilate the prostitutes in such a way? Why was it not enough to simply kill them? It would have been much more unsuspicious and could have been covered up more easily? Gull once mentions that he has to do it in this way in order to send a warning signal to this counter movement of the Freemasons, but I am not sure if anybody beside himself understood it in this way.

Personal anecdote at the end: A couple of years ago I went to London with a friend of mine, and our hotel was at the East End(very cheap). We booked a so called �Jack the Ripper Tour� which would take you to all the murder scenes. Well, the first one was not more than a couple of meters away from our hotel. We lived very close to Miller�s Court, Mitre Square and Whitechapel. Our tour guide was some Jack the Ripper specialist, even wrote a book about it, and he showed us all the nice pictures of the mutilated women and explained to us where they were found exactly. Needless to say, at nights we did not really go out much anymore. But still, I can only recommend this tour, given that you do not stay somewhere in the East End.

As Eric Berlatsky points out in his text Historical narrative and the Ethics of Representation, history seems to be something that everybody constructs for themselves. Hutcheon and Lyotard claim that the past/history is constructed and shaped by various factors. Berlatsky references Milan Kundera�s �The Book of Laughter and Forgetting� when talking about how people, in this case two communist leaders, chose to deliberately erase certain memories from their personal past/history. Nietzsche raises a very interesting point in saying that �to be truthful is to lie herd-like in a style obligatory to all�. Of course, if a whole nation decides on one version of their history, it is hard to later question it. Very many leader of countries, e.g. Stalin and certainly Hitler, chose to leave out certain memories of their country�s history for ideological purposes. If we only look at the consistency with which Hitler classified certain kinds of art, which were in his eyes not corresponding to his German ideal, as �degenerate� and had them destroyed or hidden, shows us that history is somehow constructed and never really objective.

Hutcheon references Lyotard when she says that there is a �lack of reality� in recounts of the past/history. Most of all in the literature of the postmodernism, the reader is always aware of the fact that he/she is reading a rather subjective story of a constructed past.

Watchmen is set in the America of the Cold War Era. But why do superheroes fit so well in this era? I think that the reason for this lies in the general mentality of this time.

During the Cold War era, Americans lived in this constant fear that the Atomic Bomb might be dropped anytime on them and they couldn�t even do anything about it. This helplessness and paranoia influenced the people a lot. This feelings are very well depicted in Watchmen. The reader always gets to know what is happening politically all throughout the story. It is either somewhere in the back or most of the times we learn about it from the newspaper vendor. All the characters seem to be concerned about what is going on in the world. This feeling of fear and helplessness might also have influenced some of the characters to become superheroes so that they can at least do something good in their own country. Also the character of Dr. Manhattan(clearly named after the Manhattan Project) somehow symbolizes the potency of the atomic bomb and he is the most powerful weapon the American government has. But again, they cannot really control him because he has a mind of his own.

There are several incidents when the characters openly show their concern about what is going on. For instance, on page 25 of chapter three, when the newspaper vendor reads in the evening paper that Russia invaded Afghanistan. In this scene he gives his hat and a comic to this guy who always reads the Black Freighter comics next to his newsstand. This scene clearly shows how this news frightened the vendor because prior to this scene, on page 18 of the same chapter, he wants the guy to finally pay for the comic and refuses to lend him his hat in the pouring rain.

Reading the short passage from Fredric Wertham�s article Seduction of the Innocent seriously made me laugh out loud. I can somehow understand Wertham�s arguments that reading violent comic books may give some young children wrong ideas about real life, but he really takes it a bit too far in comparing Superman to European fascists. This text was written in 1954, which might explain this farfetched comparison. I think that shortly after World War II it was the ultimate stylistic figure to compare anything the person considered to be bad to fascism. Wertham does that in a very interesting way. He suggest that when children read Superman comics, they either want to be like the super hero himself or it makes them �submissive and receptive to the blandishments of strong men who will solve all their social problems for them- by force.� This, to me, strongly sounds like Superman is like Hitler or Mussolini and comics are a medium of brainwashing. What I noticed about Wertham�s choice of words is that he likes to say that the superheroes put on their �uniforms� rather than their costumes. When talking about Superman he remarks that he is only glad that he wears only one �S� on his chest and not S.S. I think that he certainly deliberately chose to refer to uniforms rather than costumes in order to stress the super hero�s association to fascists.

The other very interesting association Wertham comes up with is that Batman and Robin are a homosexual couple. Well. I suppose that at this time it might have been the second big fear of society, after the one that the adolescents are all fascist, that their kids turn homosexual. The evidence he draws on is very scarce. He comments on the very nice house and the fact that there are �beautiful flowers in large vases�, which, of course, real straight men would never have at home. The evidence that amused me the most, however, is that Robin �often stands with his legs spread, the genital region discreetly evident.� This, added to the fact that batman frequently has to rescue Robin from the villains, which of course would be the part of a beautiful girl, certainly hints at them being a gay couple, according to Wertham.

The mere fact that Wertham put so much thought and imagination into interpreting such comics, makes you, as reader, really question his morals and orientations.

As some of you have already mentioned, most of us Austrian students are overfed with the topic of Holocaust and WWII in general. The reason for this can be seen in our education. I remember in school we spent at least three years of history classes on the subject of WWII and Holocaust. At the age of 14 we had to go visit the camp in Mauthausen for the first time. Needless to say, it was terrible. As an Austrian student you were always somehow reminded that what happened in WWII was terrible, and therefore we had to learn every single detail there was about what cruelties the Nazis committed. The topic of Holocaust was not only present in History classes but also in German classes. I suppose this is a good way of making us aware of such things and preventing us from letting something like this happen again. I only really became aware of how deep this kind of education influenced me when I went to America for one semester and discovered that people there still tell Nazi jokes. I really could not believe it that the friends I found there could joke about something so terrible. That was when I realized that what happened some 60 something years ago still has an impact on our generation although we never personally experienced it.

So, when I saw we had to read Maus, I was not too enthusiastic about it because for me it was just another Holocaust story and I decided to never read another such story again after school. I thought at least it can�t be that terrible when it is drawn with animals as characters. Well, I went wrong there. It certainly is terrible and rather disturbing most of all because these animals act like humans.

It certainly is important to read and know a lot about this historical events, but there seems to me no need in always relating everything we learn in school to this. We are not really trying to forget what happened, we could never do that because it is still so deeply rooted in our society. And as Art Spiegelman brings up in Maus, we still seem to feel guilty that we never had to go through something so terrible.

What is it, besides the topic itself of course, that makes Holocaust literature so difficult and most of all disturbing to read?. The reader always tries to somehow identify with the characters in the book in order to really re-experience and understand what they experience. The problem now with Holocaust literature is that a simple identifying with the protagonists is not really possible for most of us. The events the protagonists went through are so terrifying and disturbing, that even imagining going through the same things as a present day reader is not desirable at all. I think we try to identify with the characters as much as possible but there are lots of difficulties with that. For instance, when reading Art Spiegelman�s Maus, I suppose we all tried to identify with one character. For me it was impossible to identify with Vladek, because if I imagined that I had been in his place, I would probably have given up right away and maybe not acted in the way he did. The only character I could somehow relate to was Art himself, as he is somehow suffering from what happened to his father in the war although it certainly has nothing to do with him, he still feels guilty that he is alive and his older brother not. Also he tries to somehow relate to his father and tries to understand why he acts the way he does. However, I think that what makes it so hard to identify with is, is the fact that this is a recount of history how it actually happened for Vladek. We as recipients of literature often read books that display other terrible things from other genres, like for instance fantasy or crime literature. They can be depicted equally terrifying when it comes to the topic or the language, but still we could find some way of understanding it and relating to it.

But the question is, is it really necessary to completely be able to identify with a character? I think when it comes to this kind of literature, we intuitionally try to shield ourselves from trying too hard to identify because we know it really happened and we somehow don�t want to really accept the fact that it happened not too long ago and also very close to the places we grew up in. It might be really different for somebody not coming from Europe who has no relation to WWII. But all of us who grew up in Austria have grandparents who actually experienced the war. Thus, I think we cannot completely identify because it still might be a bit too close.

The image of Uncle Sam has become a very important part of American media and culture. Even if many people do not know the story behind him, he is easily identifiable with America. In the graphic novel Uncle Sam, the media itself plays a significant role. For instance, when the main character walks up to this shop and sees a poster of a bear and an election poster in its display. The bear seems to at first glance be saying �I want YOU!� which of course was the slogan used for the recruitment posters of the U.S. military. When looking at it again, Uncle Sam sees what really is written on this poster is: �Only YOU can prevent forest fires!� The reason why he misread it the first time is because the bear is making this typical gesture of pointing at the person looking at it, which is exactly the gesture Uncle Sam has on all the army recruitment posters. What also can be seen in this scene is that Uncle Sam remembers a three words of a song �duck and cover�, which comes from the Cold War era where people were told to duck under objects and cover themselves in case the Atomic bomb should be dropped. All throughout the comic Uncle Sam remembers short passages of well-known American songs.

Another example for the importance of media is to be found in the second half of the comic when Uncle Sam sits on top of all the TV screens. This scene strongly reminds me of Don DeLillo�s novel White Noise, where he shows that our society is strongly dominated by TV, radio and advertisements all the time, and that it is nearly impossible to live without being exposed to those things. All throughout Uncle Sam there is always some kind of media presence seen, be it advertisements in the background, the elections of TV or just the fact that Uncle Sam is singing those popular culture songs all the time. At one point I wondered if maybe the character of Uncle Sam is just some crazy homeless person who obtained all this knowledge for his visions through excessively watching historical documentaries on TV.

Thinking of comics/graphic narratives as a way of mediating traumatic historical events might seem a bit contradictory at first. In fact, it is a really impressive way of dealing with the past.

In her article Comics as Literature? Reading Graphic Narratives, Hillary Chute claims that comics are sometimes seen as being fictional just because the medium, drawing, implies it is fictional. Nevertheless, there are various examples that show that comics or graphic narratives can provide very impressive recounts of historical events. In her text, Chute names various well-known examples like for instance Art Spiegelman�s Maus or Sacco�s Safe Area Gora�de. But what makes graphic narratives such impressive mediums? The first aspect to consider when comparing recounts of historical events meditated in written novels and comics is that in comics you obviously have the component of pictures to help you imagine what is going on in the story. Of course, when reading a well-written novel, it is easy to imagine what is going on. However, through the special way in which the pictures and panels are arranged, the author/cartoonist can bring certain things to the reader�s attention that are maybe only happening in the background but are important for the storyline and atmosphere.

Chute references Spiegelman when she brings up the idea of �decoding� of comics. What is meant with decoding is that, as the frames and panels of comics do not have to be aligned in any particular chronological order, it takes time and �cognitive skills� to draw some sense from the comics. This constant jumping from reading the panels to looking at what happens in the pictures, which sometimes tells a completely different story than the text, enhances a very deep reading/understanding of the story.

Personally, I think that graphic narratives can be a very impressive and gripping way of mediating traumatic events. The author/cartoonist has the possibility of drawing the reader�s attention to certain images/things that might have gone unnoticed if it was a regularly written novel. Also through the art of drawing the comic, there is always a certain atmosphere to a comic that can be crucial to understanding the events depicted.

To be honest, when I was young reading comics never really captured my attention for more than a couple of minutes. As a kid I would read the occasional short comic strip in the news paper and that was it. I never really cared about the Micky Mouse or Donald Duck comics too much. I have to admit that when I was a little older, I simply loved reading the cheesy Photo-Love-Stories in the teen magazines. I am not so sure if those stories can be counted to the genre we are dealing with in this course, but they consist of images and text. Although the images are not artistically drawn but pictures of real life people.

One real comic I still love to read is H�gar the Horrible. Every time I am at my Mom�s house I pick up a copy and read through it, it just never gets old.

As some of you already pointed out, I also think that in the last couple of years comics experienced something like a revival. This new interest in old comics certainly is related to the fact that in the recent years there were so many movies based on those comics. Those movies were all huge productions and made for the more general taste. Lots of people who have seen The Avengers, Captain America, Hulk or Iron Man consider themselves huge Marvel comic fans now without ever having picked up a single comic book. With those very successful movies, the social image of the comic book fan changed a lot. Before those movies, it was considered to be quite childish and inappropriate for a person older that 14 to read comic books, but now it is perfectly fine to be an ardent comic book reader/collector at whatever age.

I can only say that I really enjoy watching those movies based on Marvel or DC comics without having ever read one of the original comics. However, I am really looking forward to read all those graphic novels on the syllabus as this genre is one I never really have dealt with before.