Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pure Evil - The Joker

I had the pleasure of watching The Dark Knight for the second time today and I was blow away all over again by the performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker. It has been some time since I have witnessed a character completely embody the word evil in such a recklessly psychotic way. Hannibal Lecter was evil but he was more methodical and calculated, the Joker was in your face evil. The performance left me wanting to see and hear more of this character, which in my opinion has been immortalized by Heath Ledger. The original Joker was Jack Nicholson but I doubt even he would have a problem admitting that Heath was a better Joker. The performance was scary yet riveting and it compelled me to watch more.

Now you may think that I am merely jumping on the bandwagon, showering praises on the late Mr. Ledger who is now being held firmly in the bosom of all film critics and film goers but the fact of the matter is that his performance was master class. When I watched the movie the first time I forgot that I was watching Heath Ledger and all I saw was the Joker character. When he appeared in the screen the background faded away and all I was concerned with was what the Joker had to say and what he did. For me he stole the show and for this reason I feel that the Joker character should not be brought back in the next Batman movie or at least for a long time as the actor who attempts to follow in heath’s footsteps will surely fall short and probably turn into the next George Lazenby.

As I watched the Joker carrying out his duties as an “agent of chaos” fighting for the soul of Gotham City I wondered if pure evil of such a magnitude actually exists? Are there men (or women) who are so evil that they just want to watch the world burn? Can a man or women cause such anarchy that leaves us running around like headless chickens?

Throughout history we have been treated to a multitude of evil men whose actions cannot be explained through rational thought and ideals. Men who committed acts so vile and heinous against human nature that they will never be forgotten. Men who do not play by the rules that we hold so dear and have dedicated their lives to destroying the very fabric of human nature for one reason or the other have existed and will exist till the end of days. Were they our version of the Joker? And in that case who is our Dark Knight?

I know the Joker is a fictional character however we all know fact is stranger than fiction, so is it so far fetched that men like the Joker exist? Would such a person ever exist in our “perfect” world plagued by madness? The Joker was driven by no motive or worldly gain but by the need to create anarchy just for the sake of it. He rebelled against societies rules and showed people what fear is. He could not be understood and that’s why he could not be defeated, as he had nothing to loose and that is the most dangerous type of man.

Now I think I speak for everyone by saying that evil exists but is it created or born? Can we say for certain that so and so is evil incarnate and does this depend on which side of the looking glass you choose to see the world from? I believe that evil is born more often then it is created and even so it depends on the environment such an individual grows up in. Now you psychologists out there will accuse me of sitting on the nature vs. nurture debate but I think both play a role. Another theory is that we all have that tendency for evil in us but it’s the choices we make that keep us on one side of the divide or the other. All we need is a little push and we will fall into madness ala Harvey Dent.

We see shades of evil everyday in some form or the other but when confronted with such reckless evil I shudder to think what our reaction would be. So Does Pure Evil Exist?

Why so Serious???
The Lone Writer


M Junaid said...

If Heath Ledger does not get the Oscar for this role, then the Academy will lose all credibility in my eyes (the credibility it built in 2004 with LOTR ROTK) Posthumous oscars are rare but it does exist. Ok - now to get my teeth into this discussion

Let me begin by saying that I wanted to do a silimar post to this but i doubt I could have been as poignant as you :)

I loved the Dark Knight and it is currently my favourite movie of the year - I would love to watch it again but my heart needs the right company - some movies just lend themselves for cinematic dissection.

Lazenby - poor sucker. I rate Lazenby with Dalton (drifting Mj)Ok - back to Joker - i agree - He shoudnt Return - No one will be able to fill those shoes. I was extremely sceptical about whether Heath ledger being able to do Justice to a Jack Nicholson role but I also believe that he outshone him (I cant imagine anyone else being a Better actor than Nicholson.

Concerning Anarchism - I find it fascinating as a social movement and here I want to discuss certain aspects of the movie - for instance - we know that the Joker isnt Financially motivated whatsoever (he burns his share of the Mob money) but in doing so - he also Burns the other half effectively crippling the mob from an economic perspective, and as we remember from Batman Begins - it was the economic division that led to Gotham being so vile (remember Raz As Gul talking about how the Waynes murder jolted the rich to act - him or someone else - maybe Alfred said it - either way that movie was crap)

so maybe we need total chaos (or pure evil if you like) to return things to the natural order - think of forest fires etc (Natural ones)

as for - Are people born evil. No. Some of them are born ugly but no one is born evil. Apart from Stewie Griffin.

need to run - get back into this later

A Global Citizen said...

Through closely observing the history of humanity, one can easily detect the type of evil that existed (and still does) since the early dawn of time. Evil, as a lack of goodness, doesn't necessarily always appear tangibly, physically as in the case of the joker.

Instead, evil is a thought, an ideology, a concept that constantly urges and motivates those whom are vulnerable against it, to follow its heinous, devilish and destructive commands. In that sense, every human being has the tendency for good/evil deeds. Whichever overrules the other determines the type of person you are.

The late Ledger undoubtedly excelled in personifying pure evil. An outstanding performance indeed!

Prixie said...

In every person there is infinite capacity for good and evil and we need to take a side. The lines are drawn every single day, even in the simple things we do. The Joker personifies quite well the internal battle for everyone every day

PS Must still watch the movie, itching to do so

Noorjehaan said...

Yes The joker had a magnetism that I think the plot did not leave enough space for.

Personally, professionally, spiritually i can not accept pure evil exists. what is the use of a Merciful Creator's judgement if he punishes us on the basis of what He created? Al ghazali wrote that our salvation lies in our intellect and our will. To me, will or choice is the stronger of the 2.

Our current international prison system is based on the idea that evil should be locked up, and very seldom does it allow for the facilitation of inherent good. Rehab centres fall short in this respect as well.

so i'm the type of sucker that will believe even if you aren't good, somewhere deep inside, you want to be. (urgh, bluck!)

Noorjehaan said...

oh and v and i had the methodology discussion last night. the prophet (saw) met the quraysh on their terms. does that mean we should use the current world order for change? or shari'ah? or just let it rip? my preference is shari'ah...

The Organ Harvester said...

I suppose the sense of Anarchy is overturning a system that is believed to have failed in its purpose. So for instance, The Joker maker reference to wars and plans of war and people seem content with that, but when their own lives move away from "the plan" they describe it as anarchy.

The nature of anarchy is Darwinian. You survive only if you are prepared to kill thenext person. Rules of chaos. You take what you want, when you want, there is no real material gain other than for sustaining your existence.

The question is, is the world setting itself up for an anarchist, someone to upset the proverbial apple cart? Is the stink of a corrupt system finally choking us all out where we no longer can tolerate it?

As for evil existing, I suppose in the religious context, Satan is pure evil. The definition evil is subjective to a large extent, having to take into account various influences and mores.

I think for a comic book movie, Chris Nolan has put forward very important issues. Is it ok to invade another's privacy if it is to catch the bad guy? Is the Joker that evil if all he wanted to do was burn down a system that couldnt protect its own citizens from the mob? Harvey Dent/Two-Face wore his scar as some motivational emblem, a reminder of how he had followed one path and literally lost. If Murder is evil, how do we explain our obssession with the death penalty?

Is anarchy only something that happens when things of value are taken away from you? when your system of life get's upset?

The Organ Harvester

Khadija said...

I'm going to pull out a quotation here (it's an annoying habit, I know):
When we do evil,
We and our victems
Are equally bewildered.
W. H. Auden

I haven't watched the movie yet and can hardly respond to so thought-provoking a post based on the trailer.

But I'm thinking of the trumped up axis of evil proposed by his 'excellency', the Bush himself. He came in for much stick for using the term 'evil', thus giving his war shades of a religious crusade. It is rather amusing to see headlines like 'North Korea removed from axis of evil' As if a God-like favour waved a magic wand after a moving penance and voila!

SingleGuy said...

The Dark Knight. What a movie. Steeped in symbolism. As I left the cinema, I too thought that a post-humous Oscar for Ledger is a must. I did a post on Ledger just after he died. He was apparently depressed at the time, and I can see him getting into this role and it maybe triggering what had occurred that eventually ended his life.

The joker has previously come across as a farcical maniac, Nicholson's camp performance probably had a lot to do with that. This Joker was purely disturbed.

I'd say he was broken. Completely sane, yet insane at the same time. I don't think one can call him an anarchist, but he clearly is looking for something that brings meaning to his life. He is the anti-batman, If there ever was a Bizarro-Batman, it would be the Joker.

The joker is a not a psychopath, but I'd call him a sociopath. He has no guilty conscience about what he does. Brilliant minded, but lacking interpersonal skills, no sense of societies unwritten rules, very much someone with autism! Ledger portrays Joker as Hannibal Lector on Steroids, yet manages to pay homage to Nicholson too.

The Joker is a classic terrorist but the only thing he wants is Batman's attention. The film-makers managed to throw in a theme of Personal Privacy versus The Patriot Act towards the climax of the movie.

All in all, 5 stars as far as action movies go.

Waseem said...

I was gonna put an ineffectual comment on this post, and after i read(saw, i didnt actually read all of them) all the long comments, I hesitated but now I think what the heck.

Your previous post and this one have a commonality, why so serious :D.

The world exists in shades of gray, some of us are a lighter shade, some of us are a darker shade.

Infinium said...

Let it burn, Let it all BURN... I'm pretty sure that there must be some people like that somwehere in the world.