Batman Vs. Bureaucracy: The Illusion of an “Alternative” and Independent Cinema

There’s been lots of chatter about there being too many superhero movies. I tend to agree that the production chain type of behind-the-scene works that defined the vast majority of the far-too-many movies about people in costumes from other planets is excessive and distances people from real life in an unprecedented grotesque wave of cinematic escapism.

I’m also not fond of the childlike excitement that it generates – though I will allow that while I wasn’t a fan of superheroes as a kid and will not start being a fan of superheroes at the age of 30, my “superheroes” were rockstars and look where that has brought me…

Back to the debate. Superhero films generate money and lots of money is pumped into endless reboots, remakes and franchises. Evidently, the Marvel Universe operates no differently from a McDonalds’ restaurant chain – the only different being no animals are cruelly harmed in the making of their products.

Ken Loach referred to William Blake’s statement that you can’t talk about art when you talk about money. We can all agree bu if anything, cinema more than other artforms has never made the link between art and money a mystery, particularly given that the birth of cinema is commonly traced back to the first commercial screening hosted in Lyon by the Lumiére Brothers in 1895.

I do not have anything against the existance of superhero flicks, though I am generally uninterested in keeping up with this wave. What I do have something against is the lack of an “real” cinema to oppose it, precisely because of the way in which the cinema that is supposed to oppose it is funded.

Alternatives to superhero movies are, in theory, represented by “independent movies.” But independent movies are either boring or snobbish affairs or, for the vast majority, funded by governmental bodies and made by people who either know well how to fill out forms or know people who know how to fill out forms. Very often, I sit at the cinema and I feel as if I can hear the way each of its frames are written in a funding application.

That’s not good. In fact, it may even be worse.

While I will forever be more excited about a Martin Scorsese film than the latest Batman reboot, I worry that filmmaking is just not worth the trouble. Perhaps, rather than worry about what films are made, we should focus on discovering and restoring the cinema of the past and from various different parts of the world. Meanwhile, fangirls and boys can have their Thors and Wonder Women. Let us have, instead, the Ousmane Sembenes and Kira Muratovas.

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