Ok, so this is a purely word-only post today. Sorry to deprive you of my genius comics, I know you can barely stand it. And there’s no emoticon to communicate total sarcasm beyond this stupid one — ;P — so let me say I’m being sarcastic. A lot’s been going on for me personally, and drawing cartoons, which is purely a hobby for me, has had to take a back seat. Since I’m a crap-ass drawer, I’m not too worried about my skills suffering during the lull. But I wanted to let my 3 or so loyal readers know I haven’t disappeared and that at some point I’ll start drawing and posting them again.
One thing I do want to say here is that I saw the Dark Knight and it’s terrific. Anyone who hasn’t seen it needs to see it at least three times. Yes it’s super dark, yes it’s disturbing, yes it’s basically a huge bum-out fest of a movie, but there’s something beautiful in its twisted smoking hulk of wreckage. I know why everyone and their grandma has hailed this movie. I know why I hail it. And yes, it is because of the Joker and Heath Ledger’s superhuman performance, though not for the exact reason everyone says it is. The truth is that the Joker — and Ledger — tap into what we all wish we could tap, though without the evil: an infinite capacity for being honest with oneself.
To me this is the essence of the movie and why everyone loves Ledger’s performance so much but can’t seem to find anything beyond a cliche to adorn it with (how many bloody times have I read the words “nothing short of spectacular”??). He is honest with himself in a way I’ve not seen a character be honest with themselves in any movie maybe ever. He has no inhibitions. His only ambition is to kill and destroy everything that Batman holds dear. There is no “purpose” to his life, as he sees it, greater than his own demented enjoyment (he complains at one point that things have gotten “boring”). This is not a socially-sanctioned ambition, but he doesn’t care — in the Joker’s mind he’s the toughest guy in town so he thinks he can remake all the rules.
People in general, but we Americans in particular, have difficulty, ultimately, with being honest with ourselves. Maybe this is why it took an Australian actor to to pull it off. We fake ourselves into believing that purchasing crap will make us feel better, that people respect us more when we blow them off, that we can follow a passion and let the consequences be damned. There is a huge paradox in this Joker in that his acknowledgment of how people are limited by their hypocracy frees him to be just as damned hypocritical as he wants to be because he’s not a faker. This is what gives him his power and ultimately is one of the main reasons he freaks us the hell out.
He’s not driven by money or even respect, really — although he gets lots of both in the film. He luxuriates in hurting others. It’s fun for him. He enjoys the domination. I think most of the world’s population can identify with this, given the current power structure of most of the world’s countries. We identify with our tormenter in this movie in a way we are unable to quite identify with our real-life oppressors. I’m not complimenting the Joker here — he’s a pit of bottomless despair and Ledger makes sure to show that he’s a very, very sad man, and this is probably another layer on which we “identify” with him while simultaneously despising him.
You have to give the Joker credit for one thing, though: he doesn’t hide behind anyone. He is who he is, for all the world to fear. He is bold and does not prevaricate when things don’t quite go his way. He “follows his passion” as we are all told to follow ours; the only problem is that his passion is to, as Alfred Pennyworth puts it, “watch the world burn.”
Heath Ledger makes this happen with his boundless gifts as an actor, perhaps the best of his generation and, if he hadn’t died, maybe the best ever. I can’t wait to see his final final final performance in “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus”. Sounds cool. And Christopher Nolan is the man behind it all, so you have to give him tons of credit. This movie is about much more than entertainment. It’s about the state of the world into which we all perceive ourselves to have fallen.
Anyone else have any comments on the movie?