I’ve been thinking about Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, lately. One of the, in hindsight, most influential movies of the 21st century so far, for better and for worse. It effectively locked its director in place as being one of the “Big Names” who can actually sell a blockbuster off of him being the director alone, with no signs of him being thrown in Director Jail anytime soon after he made history by making Oppenheimer the highest-grossing biopic of all time.
But I don’t want to talk about Mr. Nolan’s career. I want to focus on a scene of outrageous moral turpitude from one of its supposedly “heroic” characters in this now fifteen-year-old movie. No, I’m not talking about Batman physically assaulting a detained suspect while the police just watch. Nor am I talking about his secret technology that surveilled every citizen of Gotham without their consent. Believe it or not, I’m talking about something far more outrageous:
I’m talking about this scene:
When Lucius Fox, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, goes to see the alleged criminal banker Lau and personally tells him their proposed business partnership is terminated!
I mean, really, how dare he? Does Lau not have a right to have his day in court? Is he not presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? Oh, but I guess we don’t live in the United States of America, we live in Cancelcultureville, where people in positions of enormous power and responsibility can face negative career consequences merely for being implicated in a conspiracy that instantly jeopardizes the trust and credibility entrusted to them in taking on those authoritative roles.
Sure, you could, I suppose, in theory, argue that Lau fleeing the United States to avoid prosecution alone is a pretty telling sign of his guilt. But unless it’s presented in a court of law, and then officially considered by a jury as evidence of his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, we the public should not be allowed to make any kind of inferences about his behavior, nor should we even consider holding his behavior against him for such flagrantly shady actions. Because in the United States Constitution, no one can be deprived of life, liberty, property, power, social status, business opportunities, positive press stories, personal feelings of entitlement, private jets, or multi-million-dollar contracts with billionaires without due process of law. The standards of evidence in a criminal court should be the exact same standards of evidence for literally all other human interactions no matter what.
And yes, yes, some Wayne Enterprises simp could claim that, as CEO of a multi-billion-dollar corporation, Lucius not only had a right but a responsibility to terminate a business partnership with someone whose public reputation as a fugitive from the law was jeopardizing the company’s bottom line. As CEO, these do-gooders believe, he had a duty of care to his company and did the right thing by identifying a risk to its portfolio and brand image to customers. But what about higher ideals of… um, I guess… letting rich and powerful people keep being rich and powerful and stuff?
Huh. Now that I think about it… does seem weird for me – or, frankly, anyone – to be so defensive of a rich and powerful guy credibly accused of serious malfeasance. Even if he’s totally innocent, a guy like Lau really shouldn’t be putting himself into situations where he’s even tangentially implicated with every organized crime outfit in a major metropolitan city. Because the consequences of the rich and powerful engaging in criminal activity are so much higher than if a poor person on parole met up with his old gang pals once for a few drinks, you know?
If you’re a high-level financial broker, or an executive of a major company, or a politician, it’s really not enough to be technically innocent until proven guilty after being indicted. Your behavior, as someone with so much power and wealth, should be exemplary to continue enjoying all of the benefits and access and privileges you’re afforded as a powerful and wealthy person. Because the consequences of you being wrongfully brought down a few notches on the rungs of the nation’s elite are relatively minor compared to the damage you could continue to inflict on the rest of us if you actually are a criminal and still enjoyed access to all the perks of the elite until the long and drawn-out legal process finally convicts you. The stakes are just too high to concern ourselves with your personal career preferences, Lau. Sorry.
I’m still talking about Lau from The Dark Knight, by the way. Just a totally random pontification of an old movie I was reminded of last week. Definitely has nothing to do with anything going on in the real world right now.