Lessons from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The sign of a good man is not his status, wealth or estate – it is his humanity. The Dark Knight Rises is not the best Batman movie ever made but it is the best representation of not only the character but also of what denotes a good human being.

When the going gets tough, Bruce Wayne can choose to run away and turn his back on the citizens of Gotham, including his friends, yet he doesn’t hesitate to don the cape and bring out ‘Batman’.

Ready to fight to the bitter end to put right old wrongs, protect the innocent and atone for past sins, it’s worth remembering that ‘The Dark Knight’ is still just a man: Bruce Wayne – a scared, scarred, lonely man with little faith in himself or much of mankind.

We have all felt like Bruce Wayne at some point. We have all had to retreat into our own shell at least once, whether it was because we felt too weary to face the world or just needed some time to lick raw wounds inflicted by others.

Wayne is a man without special powers, devoid of extraordinary gifts enjoyed by other superheroes such as ‘Superman’ or ‘Spiderman’. Yet when Gotham comes under attack, he never shirks from his responsibility because he knows that it’s the right thing to do.

You see, when the going gets tough and reality comes to bite you on the rear with the ferocity of a Great White shark, there are only two options: fight or flight. When all around you the world seems to crumble – and betrayal, fear and evil suddenly invade and threaten to conquer – it’s the ultimate test for all your bonds: family, friendship, love.

A decent person with a good heart, whose friendship or love is genuine, would never abandon you to save their own skin. They would stand with you and for you, no matter how shaky the ground upon which you stand may be.

In times of trouble, those who turn their backs on you are those who lack that inner core of courage that is the true mark of our humanity. Even the villain in the movie, the mask-clad Bane, stands until the bitter end in support of his friend – going to battle for them, with them and alongside them.

Whatever your view of this “mercenary”, his loyalty is noble and admirable. At his core lies a compassionate man, turned into a vengeful brute after abandonment and cruelty. Ultimately, we are faced with a being who needs to belong and will do anything for those he loves and a cause he believes in. This is a trait shared with Batman – hero and villain are only separated by a hair’s breadth of difference. For both men, fighting to preserve their inner humanity is not a choice, it’s a way of life.

Thus, when I reflect upon a life-changing betrayal by a supposed ‘best friend’ earlier this year, I feel more sorry for them than myself. I was willing to stand by them, even after all they did, yet they ran away to bury their head in the sand. Were it out of shame, I might understand their behaviour. However, their motivation seems to be convenience: brush things under the carpet and then they don’t exist.

I, however, follow the Bruce Wayne / Batman school of thought: stand up for what’s right, fight for all that is good and never run away from your responsibility to others, no matter how small. When we abandon those principles and forget to tap in to our inner Dark Knight, we risk becoming as misguided as Bane: fighting for the wrong side and losing sight of our own humanity – a very sorry state indeed.

Why Wearing Spandex Can Be Sexy If You’re A Bloke…

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Let’s face it, every heterosexual girl and every homosexual bloke wants the same thing… a good man who exudes enough chemistry to make you want to rip all your clothes off and sit on his face lap. Add to that a certain charm, bravery and courage, and you’ve suddenly got the perfect guy. Or have you? What if I was to tell you that you need some spandex as well? Confused? Keep reading…

Several years ago, during the course of my work as a PR girl, I came face-to-face with a buff bloke in a red lycra suit, black spankies and a hair-do so quaffed, it wouldn’t move a millimetre in a category five hurricane. I fancied the [shiny] pants off him. Yup, ‘superhero’ Major Victory – his description, not mine – was very delectable indeed. I was so aroused, I spent a full bank holiday weekend locked indoors watching him cavort on the SCI FI channel (as it was then called) in the most bizarre reality TV show – ever. It was the brain child of comic book legend Stan Lee (which explained a lot!).

Suddenly, that old Bonnie Tyler track seemed almost phrophetic: ‘I need a hero / I’m holding out for a hero till the end of the night / he’s gotta be strong / and he’s gotta be fast / and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.’ ‘Hell yeah’, I thought. ‘That’s what I’m talking about. Bring on the heroes and let them be super. There’s nothing noncy about a man in tights.’ Unless they haven’t been washed first… but that’s a whole other blog.

If you think about it, a superhero kit is nothing more than a uniform, but with a lot more stretch and colour. It’s like looking at your wife in her kinky Ann Summers get up… she puts it on, she takes on a sexy persona and – pow! – a slut is born. It’s the same principle for men wearing lycra. They put it on, do a few stretches, run round the block and a [super] hero emerges. But are we really ready for them?

Superheroes are bold, brave, selfless, sexy, courageous and morally incorruptible. And covered in spandex. Yet, I thought there was nothing remotely attractive about a Fathers For Justice protester clad in a Batman cossie who dominated the news in the same year I met the luscious ‘Major Victory’. So what if he was scaling a building while police helicopters did a loop-the-loop right by his head? In theory, we should have broken out in a hot flush and started gagging for the guy’s number. Instead, most of us frowned sympathetically and thought no more about it.

Modern society just isn’t ready for any superheroes… If I was standing at the bus stop and a man clad head-to-toe in blue lycra suddenly offered me a ‘lift’ with his miraculous power of flight, what would I do? Threaten to headbutt the deviant freak and tell him to clear off, thinking all the while of how ashamed his mother must be. Perverted loser. Harsh, I know, but in this day and age, we’re surrounded by nutters and weirdos… even if the aforementioned freak turned out to be truthful and suddenly shot up into the sky, I’d still be looking around for David Blaine and a camera crew. Worse still, I might run like an Olympic athlete towards the nearest police station, sounding certifiable with my tales of a flying man in Spandex. And then I’d be the one labelled as ‘Loser’.

Really, the only way it’d be cool to fancy a man in fancy dress is if the media embrace him, build him up into the nation’s saviour and he becomes a celebrity. After all, it’s acceptable to lust after an icon – even one in spandex – without people thinking you’re some twisted cow who needs to get out more. Even his mother suddenly feels proud. He sells his story in a multi-million pound book deal, a film is made about his life, he bags a supermodel girlfriend with more bones jutting out than a mass grave genocide pit and he’s completely unattainable to an average girl like me. Yes! That’s the key. It’s the fantasy that’s alluring, not the reality. I like the idea of being with a superhero. I’m just not sure I’d like the reality. It’s the dream of having someone kind and brave and gifted and über-strong for a lover that triggers the tingling session in my spine and other areas.

By remaining a dream, I’ll never be disappointed. There’s no real-life hero who turns out to be a twat when you meet him. There’s just imagination, hope and desire. You can hear it in Bonnie Tyler’s voice as she wistfully belts out: “Where have all good men gone? / And where are all the gods? / Where’s the street-wise Hercules / To fight the rising odds?” He’s probably around here somewhere, but too scared of aggressive female bloggers to ever make himself known…