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Friday, July 20, 2012 

Ben Shapiro makes mistake of calling Robin crummy

Author Ben Shapiro, who wrote the book Primetime Propaganda, wrote an op-ed on Front Page Magazine about the Obama campaign's ridiculous attempt to hijack The Dark Knight Rises and claim Bane resembles Bain Capitol. He does hit a lot of the right notes here, but then goes along and makes a very unwise statement:
So the Democrats turned to exploiting the new Batman movie another way: they’re calling Obama and Joe Biden “the Dynamic Duo.” Only one problem: Batman – Bruce Wayne – is a multi-billionaire who fights the evil forces of the Occupy Wall Streeters like Catwoman in the new movie. In fact, Catwoman tells Batman, “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” The 99% speaking.

And there’s no Robin in the movie. And even if there were a Robin … well, nobody likes Robin. He’s annoying and silly and a tad odd. So at least there’s an argument to be made that Biden is like the Boy Wonder, even if Barack is no caped crusader.
What?!? Just why is he claiming here that nobody likes Robin, after Bob Kane's sidekick creation became an immediate success in 1940? There's a lot of ambiguity in how Shapiro makes his claim, and we can't tell just which teen to take on the role he's talking about: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, or even Chris O'Donnell's portrayal in the earlier quartet of movies. Or does he mean the iffy costume of yore or whole role altogether, which compounds the impression further that he's attacking the characters instead of how they were written? After all I've tried to do to avoid attacking the cast of characters and focus more suitably on how they're characterized and what personalities, belief systems and lifestyles are attributed to them, it's very sad to find Shapiro souring his argument by putting down a teen vigilante who did acquire fans and did have some good adventures, and won over plenty of readers as leader of the Teen Titans to boot. Did I also mention that Chuck Dixon, the writer whose creation the left tried to exploit, is also known for writing nearly 100 issues of the 3rd Robin's solo book during the 90s?

And on those grounds I take issue with the notion that Biden is even remotely like the Boy/Teen Wonder: he is most certainly NOT. Bob Kane's creation had a lot more altruism than Biden will ever have.

What Shapiro could have done was to say that if Obama is not Batman, then Biden is not Alfred Pennyworth, butler of the Wayne Manor and one of the few people who knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. That he missed the opportunity is sad. Why, the way he goes about this with Robin is exactly what led to Jason Todd's termination in 1988-89. Yes, mistakes were made with Todd back in the day, but it's not the character's fault but the writers. If they wanted to kill him off for the same reasons that Elektra was killed in Daredevil, that in itself could probably work, but it shouldn't be solely because the character is allegedly "annoying", all the while allowing the writers to get away almost perfectly clean with the damage they're doing. (I think Max Allan Collins was the one who changed Todd's origin in 1987 and was probably the one who led to the really sloppy character traits as well.)

Shapiro does make a good argument on how Christopher Nolan's Batman movies have surprisingly reflected some good allusions to conservative themes and beliefs. But his putdown of Robin in itself is wrong, and I think he'd do well to apologize.

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Ha! Robin *IS* in the movie, in a way. He was probably in the movie more than Batman.

In fact, he's the title character.

As a meaningless side note, Shapiro is one of the worst film critics in the universe.

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