IMAGE: Storyboard Intro to Batman the Animated Series by Bruce Timm
Episodes: The Demon’s Quest (Part 1 & 2)
My lecture aims to understand how Batman the Animated Series dealt with creating identities and dualities. Batman grapples with his dual identity, as billion playboy Bruce Wayne and the Cape Crusader, as Gotham juxtaposes the relationship between those who obey the law, and the criminal underbelly perpetuating horrible crimes. Duality is the central theme the series, as every villain grows to villainy and every hero comes to heroics creating split selves in both literal and rhetorical literary devices. However, in the 3rd volume of the series, Batman encounters very different type of villain who’s duality is harder to pin down, Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s does not hide under a facade of a mask, he does not have a backstory explaining the death of a good man and the rebirth of a criminal (as we see with other characters like Harvey Dent), and his criminal exploits involve deeper, darker, and more insidious motivations (such as ending the world). Understanding how this villain fits in the theme of duality is often perplexing, after all, there is only one side to him. However, the kind of duality he represents is cultural, he is the the eastern coin to Batman’s west. In other words, he is Batman’s equal but from the far east— he is the Oriental Batman. My lecture seeks to understand the themes of orientalism, implicit and explicit, in Ra’s Al Ghul’s adventures with Batman, and how Ra’s identity is linked with the cultural missteps implicit in western storytelling ideologies. The duality in Batman’s relationship with Ra’s is one of two master warriors, intellectuals, and leaders clashing over cultural norms in each other civilizations. The same, yet other.
Derek Jones is co-host/co-creator of the Midnight Myth podcast, a weekly podcast where Jones’ along with his co-host Laurel Hostak seek to understand the intersection between philosophy, history, mythology and storytelling. Jones’ area of expertise resides in cross referencing contemporary story structure with their historical roots. Jones has lectured previously on topics such as, American Revolutionary War tactics in the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. Jones has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Temple University, and is a licensed producer of insurance contracts (because podcasting hasn’t started paying the bills just yet).
This event is FREE and open to the public and will take place in The Levy Gallery for the Arts in Philadelphia.
The Rewatch is a cultural phenomenon unique to television viewers of today. Prevalent primarily due to the accessibility of our netflix accounts and streaming internet. This lecture series is now in it’s third iteration which takes the rewatch, slows it down, highlighting specific episodes with a lecture and roundtable discussion. The Rewatch is meant to further critique and appreciate television for its ability to tell a story figuratively in a way which creates a portrait of American culture, time and place. Previously we have covered Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica. For the third installment we are excited to dive into Batman: The Animated Series. The lecturers range in backgrounds of expertise from art, history, writing, television and pop culture. We are happy to welcome back April Aguillard, Ann Cornell, Derek Jones and Jonathan McCabe.
Batman: The Animated Series aired weekdays on Fox Kids from 1992 to 1995. It is arguably one of the best animated television series to come out of American 90’s television. The series follows Bruce Wayne as Batman on episodic adventures chasing villains whom encompass complex psychological origin stories often paralleling Batman’s own PTSD originating with the murder of his parents at the age of twelve. The film noir aesthetics of the series reflect the psychologically dark narratives.
Each lecturer for the Rewatch are asked to select one to three episodes which support their lecture along with supplementary reading material for those who want to further engage with the topics of the lecture. Following the lecture we screen the select episodes and conclude the event with a 45 minute roundtable discussion. The roundtable discussions are split between topics where each lecturer including the moderator disclose in depth knowledge pertaining to the screened episode(s). At present, the focus of our discussions are as listed; animation, duality, mental illness and Gotham City landscape. We reserve the right to get really excited during the Rewatch and potentially add one or two more roundtable topics.
Cosplay is not only welcome, but encouraged. We will be screening the series in order of Seasons 1-4 as laid out through Amazon Prime.
Beth Heinly will be moderator of each event. Heinly is a multi-disciplinary artist honing the mediums of performance art, cosplay and comics. You can read her weekly journal comic on theartblog.org every Monday at 3pm entitled “The 3:00 Book”. Heinly’s artwork has been exhibited extensively throughout Philadelphia, once in Portland, OR, London and Paris, France. More of her artwork, comics and cosplays can be viewed on her website/blogs; domesticwildcatrefuge.com (an internet art website), the3oclockbook.tumblr.com and cosplaynhoes.tumblr.com. You can also follow her on instagram @bertheiny where she will be sharing select screenshots from her BTAS rewatching.