The True Theme of 2016: Never Meet Your Heroes

Hating 2016 and wishing for it to end has perhaps been the meme of 2016. It has been called a dumpster fire and was declared to “even sucked for Kim Kardashian.” Beginning in July and continuing non-stop, this year was deemed to “suck” and we saw a flood of hot takes either labeling it the worst year in living memory or at least asking the question of how bad it really was.

How bad was 2016?

I’ve only lived for thirty years, but am confident this wasn’t even the worst year I’ve seen of my lifetime. 2001 was awful. 2004 wasn’t great either. 2008 had the financial crisis, the rise of Sarah Palin, the death of Heath Ledger, and apparently Elon Musk’s personal rock bottom. Armed with the right confirmation bias and armory of evidence, one could make an argument that really any year is the worst.

It’s also worth noting that not every take on the outgoing year is as reductive and hyperbolic as “the worst!” Jia Tolentino called it “The Year We Played Ourselves” in The New Yorker. Stephen Pinker pointed out that, if you ignored headlines and value facts, 2016 is better than its previous years in almost every way. It was arguably the best year ever for black filmmakers and apparently the year that solar panels finally became commercially viable. The Economist, meanwhile, awarded “The Economist‘s country of the year award” to “plucky Estonia.” Congrats Estonia!

But there is one theme I see everywhere I look, from the Nobel Prize to the election of Donald Trump to the author of Harry Potter. One piece of wisdom, one particular theme, one pervasive lesson: the classic advice that you should “never meet your hero.”

Yes, this article is about heroes and 2016, and Bowie sang about “Heroes” and died in 2016, but it has little to do with Bowie.

To recap exactly how this theme presented itself throughout the last year, I’ve catalogued a list of disappointing heroes and their disappointed fans from the last twelve months.

Why shouldn’t we meet our heroes?

Before we jump in, it’s worth reminding ourselves of why exactly we should never meet our heroes. Ultimately, it always comes down to disappointment. They aren’t who you thought they would be. They’re not doing what you wanted them to do. The things they said that made you admire them? Either your hero never meant those things or they don’t mean them anymore or they never meant what you thought they did.

And now, let’s take a look at all the disappointment heroes unleashed on their admirers. Continue reading “The True Theme of 2016: Never Meet Your Heroes”

Which Batman Character Does Trump Resemble Most? Part 6: The Conclusion

For the past several weeks, this blog has investigated which Batman character has the most in common with presidential candidate Donald Trump. We have considered five Batman villains thus far: Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot, Dr. Jonathan “the Scarecrow” Crane, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, legendary villain the Joker, and the most recent of prominent Batman villains, Bane.

At this point, it is worth asking an important question: what should we do with this information? Why does it matter which character from Batman has the most in common with Trump?

But first: are there important Batman characters left to consider?

From “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert

How much does Donald Trump resemble Lex Luthor?

Lex Luthor, while predominantly a Superman character rather than one of Batman’s friends or foes, resembles Trump in two significant ways: a) he’s a billionaire who b) runs for president (and, frighteningly, is elected) in the DC universe.

From Superman: Lex 2000

The two do share one other key characteristic: a hunger for power. However, Luthor is known for being two-faced, passing himself off as a thoughtful philanthropist (while secretly plotting and inventing.) As previously discussed in the Harvey Dent article, one of Trump’s traits, and potentially his only virtue, is that he is not duplicitous: he has repeatedly revealed his ugliness on the world stage. Continue reading “Which Batman Character Does Trump Resemble Most? Part 6: The Conclusion”

Is Harvey Two-Face Dent the Batman Character Trump Resembles Most?

This is the third installment of an ongoing investigation into which Batman character Donald Trump resembles most. You can read the beginning here

Harvey “Two Face” Dent represents the curse of the classic politician. He’s the fallen star, the Apollo destroyed by the harsh realities of politics. His ambition and ideals are corrupted by pain and reality.  He’s the Barack Obama who realized he couldn’t close Guantanamo in his first term, the John McCain who courted the religious right and chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, the Mitt Romney who denied inspiring Obamacare.

Two-Face as depicted on the back cover of Who’s Who: The Definite Directory of the DC Universe #24, February 1987

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” – Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight

Dent divides the world into those who die heroes (Kennedy and Lincoln come to mind) and those who live long enough to become the villain (Julius Caesar is the example he uses, although one could think of many more). Trump is of a third variety.

How does Trump resemble Two-Face?

Idealistic, handsome, charismatic. Donald Trump is none of these things, and there are those who admire him for it. He does not appeal to our higher selves, does not court intellectuals or idealists. He is humanity at our basest: frightened, hateful, and angry. He appears to have little-to-nothing in common with Harvey Dent, but there are some ways in which they resemble one another.

They promise a better world, whether they can deliver it or not.

Trump promises to “Make America Great Again.” Dent is elected to Gotham City’s District Attorney in The Dark Knight on “a crusade to take back our city,” with the slogan “I Believe in Harvey Dent,” which itself is a reflection of Batman’s recurring line in The Long Halloween: “I believe in Gotham City. I believe in Harvey Dent.” Continue reading “Is Harvey Two-Face Dent the Batman Character Trump Resembles Most?”

How accurate is The Economist in comparing Donald Trump to The Joker?

This is one of many articles on this site comparing the current state of American politics to the world of Batman. Read more here, or buy D. F. Lovett’s debut novel here for only $4.99.

In an editorial published on 7/23/15, The Economist likened Donald Trump to Heath Ledger’s Joker:

Mr Trump’s lust for attention, combined with his fortune, seemed to be all the explanation needed. “Do I look like I have a plan?” says the Joker in “The Dark Knight”. “I’m a dog chasing cars. I don’t know what I’d do if I caught it”. Mr Trump’s havoc-spreading run seemed to share this improvisational spirit.

They go on to argue that yes, Trump has a plan, and yes, there’s a good chance that he is a dog who has caught a car and knows what to do with it: “sell it for profit.”

While The Economist moves away from the Batman metaphors and focuses on the politics, it’s worth dwelling for a moment on this comparison. This is not to say that Donald Trump is a villain. But he is one third of a complicated, shifting cinematic circus of three-directional conflict.

The scene in which The Joker gives his famous "plan" speech.
The scene in which The Joker gives his famous “plan” speech.


The Dark Knight is a film of three-way conflict. All great films are. Consider Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (HAL v. Humanity v. The Monolith) or Raiders of the Lost Ark (Nazis v. Indy v. The Ark) or The Departed (Jack v. Leo v. Damon). In The Dark Knight, our initial conflict is that The Joker is stealing money from the mob and cornering them, drawing Batman into the fight. Batman goes after the mob, thinking The Joker can wait. “One man or the mob…” Continue reading “How accurate is The Economist in comparing Donald Trump to The Joker?”

Do You Believe in Harvey Dent?

Remember The Dark Knight?  Who can forget Harvey Dent’s tragic line, the one which foreshadowed both his own downfall and the character arcs of so many of those around him: you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.


The question I have often come back to is whether Harvey could have ever died a hero.  Sure, they gave him a hero’s funeral, a hero’s legend, and a hero’s holiday (the second Monday of Gothamuary, presumably), but we the audience knew that he had been a villain ever since he got half his face burned off and a dead fiancee, and subsequently decided to murder everyone he held accountable.

Or do we?  Is it possible that Harvey was a villain all along?  Was he a white knight corrupted by The Joker, “the best of us,” as Batman called him, or was he just another corrupt politician with no ethics or heroism to speak of? Continue reading “Do You Believe in Harvey Dent?”

Why Madonna is The Joker

If there is one thing the internet agrees on regarding Super Bowl XLVI, it’s that Clint Eastwood sounded like Bale does when Bruce Wayne is being Batman.  That’s about it.

But to me, the strongest Batman connection throughout the entire Super Bowl was not Eastwood.  It was the Madonna Spectacle and the ways in which she resembles The Joker.  Do you not agree?  Allow me to explain.

1. They have both been around forever.

The Joker debuted in 1940 in “Batman #1,” while Madonna was born in 1958.  Perhaps this does not qualify as “forever” in everyone’s opinion… but 72 years is a long time for a fictional villain to have new stories told about him on a monthly basis,  just as 53 is a funny age to be dancing around in a cheerleader outfit at a football game.  Even weirder when you consider that she is not employed as a cheerleader.

The first appearance of The Joker.

Madonna has been “active” since 1979.  She has released twelve albums, made a bunch of movies, and married both Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie.  This means that, with roughly 23% of Super Bowl viewers being under 35, almost a fourth of the viewers of the Super Bowl cannot remember a world without Madonna.  With two blockbuster films of the last several decades featuring The Joker as a main villain, accompanied by a constant barrage of comic books and animated television shows, The Joker is in a similar boat.

But it’s not just their ability to keep existing that makes Madonna and The Joker so alike.  There are much deeper, more sinister similarities between these two…

Continue reading “Why Madonna is The Joker”