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Batman Returns:
An Anti-Semitic Allegory?


Danny DeVito as the Penguin

2,536 words

Soon after the release of director Tim Burton’s Batman Returns (1992) starring Michael Keaton as Batman, Danny DeVito as the Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, and Christopher Walken as evil capitalist Max Shreck, America’s premier newspaper, the Jewish-controlled New York Times, published an op-ed piece by two Columbia College seniors, Rebecca Roiphe and Daniel Cooper, entitled “Batman and the Jewish Question” (July 2, 1992).

Today, Roiphe, the daughter of feminist Anne Roiphe [2], is a professor at New York Law School [3].

Batman Returns is the second movie in the series, after Tim Burton’s inaugural Batman (1989). It told the tale of the Penguin, a freakish villain who posed a deadly threat to the citizens of Gotham City. As a deformed baby, he had been secretly set adrift à la Moses in Gotham City’s river by his parents, who deemed him repellant.

Nurtured in the sewers, the Penguin tries to seize political control of the metropolis with the help of wealthy, megalomaniacal industrialist Max Shreck. Ultimately, the Penguin mounts an attack to kidnap and murder all of the first-born aristocratic children of Gotham City.

This last plot element, an obvious reference to Passover [4], was introduced by Jewish screenwriter Wesley Strick, who admitted, “of course I was referring to Exodus.” [5]

In their article, the two Ivy League Jews charged that Batman Returns was anti-Semitic. The Penguin, they averred, “is not just a deformed man, half human, half-Arctic-beast. He is a Jew, down to his hooked nose, pale face and lust for herring.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0Cf9hffZ8k&feature=related [6] [4:24 mins.]

Some of Roiphe’s and Cooper’s allegations make little sense to a non-Jew.

For example: the Penguin’s “umbrellas that transform into bayonets, machine guns and helicopters are Moses’ magic staff. The flipper hands he holds at his chest are Moses’ hands, which in Exodus become ‘leprous as snow.'” The Penguin’s “army of mindless followers, a flock of ineffectual birds who cannot fly, is eventually converted to the side of Christian morality. They turn against the leader who has failed to assimilate.”

One could deconstruct their argument further, but my objective here is to report Jewish perceptions.

Here were some of their charges:

The Chorus Chimes In

Publication of these accusations in the Times conferred instant legitimacy upon them. The article generated numerous letters to the editor, commentaries in other venues, and was republished across the country. One large metropolitan daily re-ran it under the headline “Batman Returns Casts Jews as a Force for Evil.”

A Jewish reader [7] who initially assumed the article could be dismissed as the “product of a pair of intellectually overheated, pretentiously affected and politically correct undergraduates straining to ferret out nonexistent sinister motives,” became a convert after seeing the “vile motion picture.” He was puzzled why it hadn’t been censored in the production process.

After positing this taken-for-granted censorship regime, he inconsistently concluded that Batman Returns “gives the lie to the shibboleth that Jews control the entertainment industry and use it to manipulate the American public.”

Even paleoconservatives felt compelled to weigh in on behalf of the weak, ever-persecuted Jews.

Chronicles magazine’s contribution to the dialogue was “Christmastime in Hollywood” (December 1992) by David R. Slavitt, a derivative review reproducing the opinions of the Columbia undergraduates nearly verbatim.

“These Columbia kids,” Slavitt averred, “are not crazy. If anything, their report is cautious, modest, and generally understated.” Although it was hard to believe “that an industry from which the Jews are not significantly excluded” (!) would “base a surefire summer hit on the old blood libel [4],” nevertheless, Batman Returns is “an old-fashioned 1930s Jew-baiting movie.”

Since there were no 1930s “Jew-baiting” movies in America or virtually anywhere else, he was undoubtedly referring to Germany.

“The trouble with the Penguin,” Slavitt sermonized, “is that his bestiality runs riot and that he outwardly proclaims it: ‘I am not a human being! I am an animal!’ Which is the fundamental basis of all bigotry—that they are not like us and in fact are not even human.” “The Penguin,” he concluded, “is at least as Jewish as Roiphe and Cooper claim.” In summation:

The message from Batman Returns is that all our ills arise from the work of some small but evil bunch of rich and powerful people who are different from us—not quite human, beasts, vermin—and are therefore after blood, wanting to kill our children and our God.

Note that this outlook is, without qualification, exactly the way Jews demonize whites!

The movie left Slavitt feeling “dismayed” and “numb.” He hinted darkly that a pogrom (or worse) might be in the offing.

A not exactly earth-shattering observation by Slavitt was that the film had an Expressionist look. (This is true of virtually all of Burton’s films.) Expressionism was common in the German cinema of the Weimar era. The implication seemed to be that this, too, was somehow anti-Semitic.

Although the production designer for Batman Returns was Bo Welch, he inherited his expressionist designs from Batman (1989). The set designer for that film was British-born Jew Anton Furst, who committed suicide before the second project went into production by leaping from an LA parking garage.

Designer Bo Welch did mention in an interview that he had blended “Fascist architecture with World’s Fair architecture” for Gotham City, and studied Russian architecture and German Expressionism.

Anti-Semitic Allegory?

Were the Jews right? Was Batman Returns an anti-Semitic allegory? Or were these aspects of the film some sort of odd coincidence?

When I saw Batman Returns I was well-versed about the Jewish problem, but did not automatically think, “This film is antiSemitic!”

That doesn’t mean such themes weren’t present, but until they were pointed out by anti-white writers they did not register with a racially conscious person such as myself. And, unlike me, most Gentiles are unaware.

There is another film that works better as anti-Jewish allegory.

That is John Carpenter’s low budget sci-fi flick They Live (1988). Carpenter, who is white, is a typical Hollywood denizen. His objective was to discredit Reaganism and free enterprise. The film also prominently features a hoary propaganda cliché, the white-Negro “buddy” team (The Defiant Ones, Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon series).

I have never seen They Live attacked as anti-Semitic by Jews the way Batman Returns was. Rather, I first read that take on the movie in 1988 in the now-defunct Populist Party’s magazine The Populist Observer, and have seen many pro-white writers make the same point since.

In They Live the (unintended) anti-Jewish theme sticks out like a sore thumb for conscious whites in a way that it does not in Batman Returns. But the depiction of the Penguin in Batman Returns unquestionably set off the Jews’ own alarm bells.

The anti-Jewish elements in Batman Returns might have been as unconscious and unintentional as Carpenter’s were.

Another approach is to ask who made the film. Whose sensibilities, conscious and unconscious, does it express?

The corporate parent was media colossus Time Warner, run by Jews Steven J. Ross (real name Steven J. Rechnitz) and Gerald M. Levin.

The co-head of subsidiary production company Warner Brothers was Jew Terry Semel, later CEO of Internet giant Yahoo!.

Of the movie’s six producers (director Tim Burton was one), Peter Guber and Benjamin Melnicker were Jewish, while New Jersey-born Michael Uslan’s ethnicity is unknown. Apparent Gentiles were Jon Peters, supposedly half-Italian and half-Amerindian, and Denise Di Novi, a presumptive Italian-American.

Daniel Waters wrote the screenplay. Unfortunately for anti-white conspiracy theorists, his screenplay was heavily rewritten prior to filming by Wesley Strick, who is Jewish. Strick has been credited with authorship of two-thirds of the final script, including the Old Testament allusions.

As an aside, the final script reveals one way Hollywood scriptwriters, directors, and actors employ buzzwords to quickly convey white racial images and stereotypes to one another during production. In one scene I saw references to nameless characters including “ALL-AMERICAN DAD,” “ALL-AMERICAN MOM,” “ALL-AMERICAN SON,” and “ADORABLE LITTLE GIRL” with her “precious little purse.”

Tim Burton

A movie’s director ordinarily exercises more control than anyone else over the final product in terms of story, look, theme, etc. Counter-Currents [8] and TOO [9] film analyst Edmund Connelly relies upon “auteur theory”—the theory that the director is the main “author” of a film—in his readings of Hollywood movies. He succinctly summarizes that theory here [10].

Tim Burton exercised considerable control over the making of Batman Returns.

His previous Batman (1989), the first film in the series, was one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing over $411 million. It won critical acclaim and an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The success of the movie helped establish Burton as a profitable director.

During production, Burton had repeatedly clashed with the film’s producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber. But after Batman‘s success, Warner Brothers wanted him to direct the sequel. He finally agreed on the condition that he be granted total control. As a result, producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber were demoted to executive producers.

Tim Burton has always seemed hyper-Jewish to me. (By my definition [11], half- and quarter- Jews are also “Jewish.”) Indeed, I find it nearly impossible to believe that he isn’t. He is so strange, so alien, that next to him Alfred Hitchcock looks like Ward Cleaver.

But if Burton is Jewish, he is extremely crypto-.

The media implicitly presents Burton to the public as white. Reporters state that he was born in 1958 in Burbank, California to Jean Burton (née Erickson), the owner of a cat-themed gift shop, and Bill Burton, a former minor league baseball player who subsequently worked for the Burbank Park and Recreation Department.

Yet Tim Burton’s background remains obscure. As late as the 1990s a newswriter incorrectly identified him as a “British director,” and years ago I read that he was adopted.

He does not look Aryan.

His sensibility—notably his weirdness, obsessions, and conspicuous neuroticism—does not seem Aryan, either.

Burton’s “art,” whether his commercial films or the paintings, drawings, photographs, etc., featured in a retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, does not look Aryan.

Proof of all of this is on display in a 7:00-minute YouTube interview [12] with Burton posted by the Museum of Modern Art in 2009 that highlights examples of his artwork.

In 2003, a Jewish website no longer in existence (http://jewishpeople.net/famousjewssz.html [13]) listed him as Jewish, and of 515 voters at a contemporary Jewish site called Guess Who’s the Jew?, 58% thought him Jewish and 42% non-Jewish [14]. The site does not verify that he is in fact Jewish, but rather tabulates the perceptions of visitors.

Burton’s amazing career trajectory suggests favoritism. He became a leading director of big budget movies while still in his 20s.

His career received major boosts from Disney Studios, where he was employed as an animator (gauge his qualification for commercial Disney animation work in the YouTube clip), and Warner Brothers, which gave him his first significant break directing Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985) starring Pee-Wee Herman [15] (Paul Reubens, born Paul Reubenfeld).

Burton’s current mistress is actress Helena Bonham Carter. Nearly half Jewish, Bonham Carter has a complicated family tree, the product of hybridization between members of the British aristocracy and Europe’s Jewish aristocracy. Burton has two children by her.

Finally, despite the toxic charges of anti-Semitism, Burton’s career did not miss a beat. He was not unceremoniously cashiered like Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen. That’s too bad, because a suffering world would have been spared much ugly cultural dreck if he had been.


That from a Jewish perspective there are coded “anti-Jewish” messages in Batman Returns is interesting.

More interesting, though, is the fact that the controversy over them has completely disappeared from public view.

As John Derbyshire recently observed [16] in connection with William Cash’s much-reviled 1994 Spectator (UK) article, “The Kings of the Deal” [17]: “‘It’s surprising what you can find on the internet,’ we used to say when the thing was new. Nowadays I am more often surprised by what I can’t find on the internet.”

This is certainly true of Batman Returns. The 1992 assaults on the movie are conspicuously absent from the World Wide Web, especially given how prevalent they were at the time. Googling David Slavitt’s Chronicles article does not turn up a single reference.

Perhaps some subjects are routinely downplayed or concealed by slyly jiggering search results. I can think of a particular search formula I consistently used with great success for many years that no longer works. The ADL partners with Jewish mega-giants Google and Facebook to censor Internet content on ideological and racial grounds. Such control of information choke points confers tremendous power.

Today most people do not know that such accusations were ever made, although oblique hints linger. For example, Jewish movie critic Leonard Maltin’s bestselling annual Movie Guide gives Batman Returns only two stars, calling it, without explanation, a “nasty, nihilistic, nightmare movie” with a “dark, mean-spirited screenplay”—an obvious allusion to the Jewish themes discussed here.

But those who self-righteously take umbrage over alleged anti-Semitism in Batman Returns deserve no sympathy. They should have their faces shoved into anti-Semitism every bit as vicious and unrelenting as the anti-white filth they propagate daily without remorse, and experience the resultant violence and hatred as well. Such vile people are in no position to preach.

That won’t happen, of course, but it should.


Surely the most extraordinary aspect of the entire affair, however, is that Jewish elites gazed upon the physically, psychologically, and morally deformed Penguin and instantly saw themselves.

“That’s us!” they cried. “They’re depicting us!”