When I saw ScreenCrush’s story about a new song entitled “Batman Cries,” I obviously assumed it was funny. Whether a clever parody or an original piece making fun of the inherently emo Bruce Wayne, the title obviously makes for a hysterical premise. Then I listened to it. Then I listened to it again. ThenÂ I asked some other people what they thought of it, because I have no freaking idea if this song is a sincere attempt at a heartfelt track that turned into a train wreck, or if this is the work of a true comedic genius who has masterfully exploited a world where real life is indistinguishable from satire. It’s impossible to know if this is an instant comedy classic.Basically this song from Joe Settineri has broken my brain and I need answers to fix it. So I’m going to examine every piece of evidence from the song and the video to figure out if this should make me laugh or cry.
YouTube Description: “When a superhero is down, it tears us apart, but when the superhero is us, it’s a matter of life and death.”Analysis: I don’t know what this means. It sounds pretentious, but it’s also so meaningless and over-the-top it seems intentionally inane.Verdict: No idea.Official Website Description: “The new video for Batman Cries explores the inner superhero in us all — the strong, inner-spirit that fights for us and keeps us moving, dreaming, and striving. Itâ€™s about the eventuality that even our strongest self needs to be reassured, lifted up, and cheered on. Itâ€™s about being down â€“ seriously down â€“ with seemingly no way up and finding that inner strength to go forth. When a superhero is down, it tears us apart, but when that superhero is us, itâ€™s a matter of life and death.”Analysis: Oh my god, this sounds like a bad high school poem English teachers make fun of in the faculty lounge.Verdict: Sincere train wreck.Premise: Someone finds Batman (BATMAN) sitting on a curb, where he takes off his mask and begins to cry. A billionaire vigilante, who as a child watched his parents murdered, which led him to dedicate his life to stopping the most dangerous criminals in the world, is so depressed he reveals himself on a random street corner to a stranger, specifically so that person can see him crying. Then that guy encourages Batman (BATMAN) to pick himself up and find the strength to move on.Analysis: That’s the funniest ****ing thing I’ve ever heard.Verdict:Â Comedy masterpiece.Lyrics: Here’s one particularly notable verse: “Was a whole lot of hurt down on Lover’s LaneThe night was black but you could see the painRain pouring down washing dreams right down the drainSitting on the curb in his cape and awlHis head hung down just like he broke the lawHis heart lost the battle–torture was in his eyesI saw tears in Batman’s eyes.”Analysis: If we hired Mel Brooks, Judd Apatow, and Weird Al to write a comedic song together about a depressed superhero they wouldn’t come up with anything better. It’s so ridiculous, it almost doesn’t seem like anyone could intentionally be that funny, but no one thought Andy Kaufman was funny at the start of his career either.Verdict: The odds we’ve stumbled across the greatest comedian in the world are slim, whereas trains have been known to wreck.Length: Four-and-a-half minutes. That’s two minutes longer than the iconic tracking shot through the nightclub in Goodfellas. It’s the same length as “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” was only 271 words and took two minutes to deliver.Analysis: This is really long for a joke, especially given how often he sings “Batman cries.” We get it! It feels like you could listen “Stairway to Heaven.” Twice.Verdict: Sincere train wreck.Instrumentation: A sad piano leads into a traditional power ballad with a heavy drum line, and it has an overly dramatic breakdown in the middle.Analysis: The best parody songs are both well played and written. I don’t know if this would be “good” with different lyrics, but it’s clearly musically competent with real studio production values.Verdict: Don’t even pretend like you know either.If I’m being honest with you at this point in the analysis, I’m more confused than when I started. Maybe the music video has enough clues.
Setting: Outside of a neighborhood that clearly isn’t within 100 miles of Gotham. A residential pool. THE SHOWER.Analysis: This was obviously filmed by professionals….at one of their houses. That doesn’t scream “sincere” so much as “affordable.” What are you more likely to go cheap on: something you honestly care about or a joke?Verdict: Comedy masterpiece, because the stupid settings are too funny to not undermine an honest attempt at a “real” video.“Characters:” Settineri plays both the guy who finds sad Batman and sad Batman, but the only way he distinguishes between the two is with black eye makeup and a hood.Analysis: The fact there’s so little difference between the two “characters” makes me think about the description of the song: “When the superhero is us, it’s a matter of life and death.” That seems to be mirrored in the video by him playing both roles, like there’s a concerted effort at thematically conveying depth and meaning.Verdict: The sincerity train just crashed into that pool.Performance: The “guy” is really worked up and worried about Batman, so much that he’s out in the cold rain trying to cheer him up. He seems more reasonable than Batman who is so depressed he’s crying in the shower, jumping into pools, and sleeping on the street.Analysis: Without knowing if he’s a good actor or not, the parts on the street seem mostly genuine, but between the shower stuff, falling in the pool, and all of his cartoonish expressions, “Batman” is overtly ludicrous.Verdict: I give up.FINAL VERDICT: I DON’T KNOW.If this were 10 years ago, I would be convinced this is supposed to be funny, but because so many aspects would be exactly the same whether this were a sincere, not-self-aware effort at a heartfelt song or if it was an amazing satirist at work in the year 2018, it’s impossible to know.The only thing I do know is that this is one of the funniest songs and music videos ever made, even if it made my stupid brain cry.What do you think? Is this a genuine attempt at meaningful music that went wrong, or is the joke on us for not being in on it already? Tell us why in the comments below.
Images: Joe Settineri