Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Misanthropy & the Joker

It's appropriate on this day, the DVD release of Batman: The Dark Knight, that we discuss misanthropy for the first time on this blog. We'll have to save the discussion of Batman as philanthropist for another time.

[May I just say before going any further how amazing the film looks on Blu-Ray, especially those scenes shot with the IMAX film technology!]

As Batman's nemesis, the Joker is the ultimate misanthrope. He is not your usual villain: he has no friends, he's not motivated by money or revenge, he is not reasonable or plays by any rules, and there is nothing to threaten him with. As Alfred Pennyworth said, "some men just want to see the world burn." Indeed, this seems to be just what the Joker wants.

Among his worst acts:
  • He uses knives to kill people instead of guns. Guns are to quick; with knives you can savor the emotion of seeing who someone really is in the last moments of their life. Do you want to know who was a coward?
  • The Joker appears pleased, as if he is having fun, at each new heist he completes. He relishes the fight Batman puts forward, believing that things would be boring if Batman didn't exist.
  • Among the hundreds of innocent people he kills are numerous police officers, the police commissioner, a judge, and, of course, Rachel Dawes. Oh, and don't forget the he also blew up a hospital.
  • Finally, in an attempt to prove that even someone good can turn evil, he ultimately targets Harvey Dent, Gotham's District attorney. The Joker pits Rachel against Harvey; only one can live, and when Batman saves Harvey, Rachel dies. Harvey is left with half his face burned ... as Two Face, Harvey Dent gives in to the dark side.
My question for you: Is there a difference between pure evil and misanthropy? Is the Joker one or the other? Or both? What about Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter's nemesis? Other examples?

1 comment:

SKN said...

LKM: just for you, I thought about naming this post: "Joker: the Ultimate Misanthrope".