Not to be a Joker Anymore
How often have we not considered the other unimportant and inferior to us? How often have we not turned the efforts of the other to dust? There are moments in our life when we think too much of ourselves and that might be necessary, but not at the cost of depriving my loving neighbour the happiness that she or he deserves. With the release of an American Psychological thriller in 2019, ‘Joker,’ we were reminded of how societies generally can be responsible for the abandonment of the downtrodden, marginalized and the mentally ill. Joker or Arthur Fleck suffered ostracism from society. And the events that happened in his life made him the flawed character that we know him to be.
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On 29th November 2020, we at Book.ish book chats for the last Comic Book November discussed a 1988 comic book, ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ written by Alan Moore and coloured by Brian Bolland. The archnemesis of Batman, the Joker was relatable for the craziness that he displays in the book. The Joker escapes the Arkham Asylum and embarks on a journey to turn James Gordon, the Gotham City Police Commissioner insane. Was that his only purpose? Was he dedicated to turning everyone he came across, mad? He wanted to prove a point that there is something wrong in the society, that there is something wrong in the Gotham City. That he wasn’t what he is, but there was a sequence of events that have made him the madness that he represents.
Madness might be the emergency exit for the Joker, but is it been proven everyday by the criminal activities that we hear of everytime we turn on our televisions, everytime we take the newspaper in our hands and read? We hear of the police not registering FIRs as the crime rate would spiral in our state. The continuous thefts of banks, murders like that of the jeweller, job scams, busting of drugs, and the infamous St. Cruz Shootout. All these inform us of a distorted society. The Joker is on the loose. And perhaps the Batman, the one who is supposed to be the vigilante, the one who upholds morals, the one who is supposed to provide security, the one who is supposed to assure safety is perhaps lost in the playboy activity. The Batman of our times is corrupted and flawed unfortunately and it is time to weed out such representatives.
In my mind, Batman has become the Joker. Nevertheless, it is time to be assertive and put our foot down and speak of the injustice done on our beloved soil. James Gordon’s need to wake to the reality and responsibility of assisting the narratives that need a voice. Barbara Gordon’s though paralyzed must take up courage and speak against the atrocities and harm caused. The revolution is happening but the Joker devises plans now and then. Remember, Batman is now the Joker.
The other important point that ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ presents is the problem of representation made by the media and the politics of these representations. Who are we to believe? Because there are umpteen sites and narratives at our disposal, we need to depend on some of the other accepted realities of the happenings around us.
Given the present time and our ever-growing presence on virtual media. It becomes difficult to be decisive as to what the truth is and what we must take home for ourselves. There are recurring portrayals that impact our minds consciously and unconsciously leaving an unintentional desire to possess it. There are predominant storytellers who rant about their goodness at the top of their voices. There are humble sages who get the work done and hardly want a mention as a credit. Just like values, we are bombarded with the variations of the truth. And as people in dilemma, it would become difficult to come to a conclusion as to what will be that which befits us and that which will help us understand ourselves and the people around us.
Discussing Joker, one realizes that anyone of us can become what he became depending on the circumstances of our lives. He says, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” We know it wasn’t just a day that changed him, so it is for us. The events that continuously take place around us shouldn’t turn us into a joke and a Joker.
Therefore, at best we need to awaken to the fact that there is a way out as suggested by the Joker. “So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there's always madness. Madness is the emergency exit. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away…forever." Madness here would mean to take it lightly and escape the horror of the situation. Madness here would allow you to think of the option that otherwise would not click in your mind. Madness here would mean that as reasonable individuals we explore options of possibilities to a better future.
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