Month: July 2016

Understanding the Demon’s Head, Ra’s Al Ghul

ras al ghul comic cover batman

We wrap up independence/dystopia month with a look at one of the villain greats: Ra’s al Ghul. He’s one of my favorite Batman villains, and not just because he can keep the Dark Knight shirtless for long periods. His intellect, skills, and longevity make him one of the most independent villains around. He manipulates people and circumstances to suit his ends. He runs his own secret society. He’s practically immortal. He goes toe to toe with the Batman. Why? All to free nature from man’s destruction and to free man from its addiction to technology.

But what really makes him independent? What makes anyone independent? Hint: it’s not unlimited data or mounds of money, though Ra’s has both.

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Villainous tactics: torture vs toys?


A month theme of independence and its villainous opposite, dystopia, wouldn’t be complete without an examination of two classics in the genre of warped worlds: Brave New World by Aldus Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell. Both are stark worlds that offer a vision of what our life could be like if we swung to one of extreme of the spectrum or the other. In Brave New World, people’s pleasures keep them peaceful and pliable. In 1984, people’s pains and persecutions keep them plowed under. Toys vs torture. They can both work.

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Dystopian freedom: Learn to love the bomb

It’s July, a month were the United States celebrates its independence with explosions! But what would life look like with the opposite of freedom? Or perhaps too much freedom? Or freedom in the wrong things? What happens when the villains’ plans for world domination work? And how could they have done a better job spreading their…benevolent dictatorship over the world?

Dystopian movies, books, etc explore these questions. We look at four of the classics today.

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Villainous independence: More than fireworks

We American’s celebrated our country’s independence from tyranny yesterday. It’s an old victory, and one that’s grown to mean less and less as our elected leaders over the decades have become our masters instead of our servants.

Independence doesn’t mean just freedom from a king. It’s not just the ability to speak our mind and worship how we like. It’s freedom from paralyzing anxiety, nagging doubt, draining fear, burning anger. It’s freedom from stagnation and boxed-in thinking. This isn’t an exhaustive list, either.

Today we see what villains teach us about power and independence.

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