Seven years ago I was in a men’s bathroom on the University of Mary Washington campus, changing into women’s clothes. It was National Coming Out Day, and I had decided to celebrate the event by coming out to PRISM, the campus’s local LGBTQ group, and doing so dressed as the woman I knew I was. While it seems silly to me now, back then I was so afraid to be seen in public dressed in the clothes I wanted to wear and too afraid to even use the ladies’ room to change outfits. In spite of my fear, I had the courage to march out of that bathroom and tell a room full of people my story.
This editorial provides Fanbase Press readers with a retrospective to the original 1973 film Westworld, directed by Michael Crichton, and serves as a kickoff to an ongoing series of reviews discussing each episode of the HBO series, Westworld, premiering this Sunday evening, October 2. Reviews will post each subsequent Friday.
For $1,000 a day, adults can indulge in highly realistic situations in one of three Delos amusement parks: Roman World, Medieval World, and West World. All three worlds are inhabited by androids that are lifelike and have been programmed to fulfill a variety of roles in their respective worlds. Guests can live out their adventures, which include sexual encounters and fights to the android's death.
Greetings from a darkly lit cavern under the streets of Gotham City!
In early 1939, Action Comics teased readers with a headshot of a mysterious masked man with a square jaw and defined high cheek bones; the tagline claimed, “Don’t miss it! The Batman!” And with Detective Comics #27, readers read the Caped Crusader’s first story written by Bill Finger and illustrated by artist Bob Kane. Dark, mysterious, conflicted, and perhaps controversial, over the years, Batman has moved from the comic book pages to the small screen and the silver screen. And 75+ years on, Batman Day will honor the Gotham superhero (and philanthropist) on Saturday, September 17.
Rocksteady Games and Warner Bros. Games, in their Batman Arkham series, have taken iconic characters and translated them into a rich, playable universe. Drawing on the graphic novels The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum, the game designers took a snapshot of the long-standing and multifaceted characters as inspiration for their in-game traits and stories.
Yet this framing of the characters in dated stories leaves something to be desired. Specifically, the presentation of desire.
The world’s greatest detective is anti-intellectual.
The world of Batman celebrates technology. Batman constantly relies on ingenious gadgets, computer algorithms, and tools to scan scenes, track criminals, and solve mysteries. The presence of Bat-gadgetry is one of the more frequently lampooned aspects of the franchise. Yet, his appreciation of scientific advancement is purely applied. Characters like Oracle and Mr. Fox make improvements and refinements, but they are not scientists. Their dedication is to Batman’s cause, not to the pursuit of knowledge.
Despite the actor playing the role or the upgrades to his suit, we always recognize any version of Batman. The supervillains, too, are clearly identifiable by their appearance. But what about Gotham City? Gotham has become a recognizable staple of the Batman franchise. It is what made Bruce into Batman and what is known as the comfortable stomping grounds for all of Batman’s foes. But each creator’s version of Gotham is so different from the others. Do we recognize the city simply because it contains the Bat? Or are there other features that remain consistent? Gotham’s skyline is certainly recognizable when it features the bat signal. Beyond that, though, Gotham has been visually depicted in so many different ways that the cityscape always is unique, even though each version maintains a geography suitable to Batman and the supervillains. Because Gotham is often depicted as dark, tall, and labyrinthine, evil may lurk in any corner. And the average man cannot navigate the city as successfully as Batman. His technology and resources equip him with the means to scale any building or negotiate any sewer system. Gotham City may be defined, then, as a space that always embodies the struggle between good and evil. Even though Batman may be triumphant, since supervillains always threaten the city, there is never any permanent relief. Batman tries to give hope to a city under constant threat, but Gotham will never be free from danger. Gotham is Gotham because it is perpetually at risk of complete devastation. So, perhaps Gotham may be recognizable as a space for the villain/hero cycle of activity. We can always count on Batman to save his city but must accept that this is temporary, as a new villain will be arriving soon.