Anyone who is still convinced that the original intention of the makers of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” could be read equally well as an indictment of McCarthyism and communist infiltration need only watch “Dirty Harry.” Don Siegel directed both movies and nobody is ever going to confuse Harry Callahan with being a paragon of socialist ideology. “Dirty Harry” became a figure of terrifying heroism to those Americans in the early 1970s who were disgusted by the whole long-haired hippie anti-American thing. Harry Callahan is heroic, like Batman, only because we know he’s right. We can all support fascistic law enforcement when we know the cops got the right guy. Unfortunately, all too often they act like just like Harry even when they don’t.
Of course, you don’t need official conferment of authority to become a popular figure of the fascist dream of a vigilant protector swooping in to offer swift and just punishment. “Death Wish” is a story of revenge and that kind of thing always ends up exuding certain fascist tendencies. Of course, you are going to get all caught up in the drama of Charles Bronson exacting vengeance on punks who raped his wife. Who wouldn’t? The problem, of course, is that we live in a society that defines itself in part by its insistence on the same human rights denied by lesser political societies. The problem with cheering on Charles Bronson on “Death Wish” is that you only need to replace the rape of his wife with another act deemed criminal by the state and suddenly you are cheering on the authoritarian governments of Mao, Pinochet or Saddam Hussein.
Frank Miller. The guy responsible for turning the Batman from the campy Caped Crusader of Adam West into the Dark Knight we all know and love today. Also responsible for the graphic novel upon which “300” was based. Hmm, you’ve got this poor little group of democracy-loving Westerners fighting off the endlessly recycling army of Arab terrorists. Protection of a higher form of life requires the sacrifice of blood in order to maintain the purity. What the darker Persians have to offer is a strain of impurity that is far worse than a heroic death in the defense of the blood. You are either with the Greeks or you are with the foreign corruption of civilization. If you didn’t get the distinctly fascist reinvention of the admittedly admirable real life events upon which “300” is based, then maybe it will become much clearer in light of Frank Miller’s unbelievably misinformed critique of the Occupy Wall Street movement.