I watched Batman: The Killing Joke recently and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m usually not a big fan of superhero movies, but I thought I’d give this one a shot. I’m glad I did. Since I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies/ series or comics I never really cared about The Joker’s story. So if there are multiple back-stories, forgive me for not knowing. I just know this one.
The Joker’s back-story
In this movie The Joker had a pregnant wife and no job. He used to work in a chemical plant and quit that to follow his passion of being a comedian. Unfortunately people apparently didn’t think he was very funny, so he couldn’t find a job. His supporting wife told him not to worry and that everything would be fine. But to support his family he tried to get a one-time-only job with a group of bad guys. He needed to lead them to a different company next to the chemical plant where he used to work. Before they got to “the job” the police told him that his wife had died in an accident. He didn’t want to do the job anymore after hearing that. This is understandable because he was only going to do it so his family could have a better future. The men he was going to work with told him cancelling was not an option so he did it anyway, plagued by his memories. When he got there, security spotted them and batman came along. All the bad guys, including The Joker ran. Something went wrong and The Joker fell into some kind of chemical and thus became The Joker we all know.
I have mixed emotions about this villain now, because I think that many people would go crazy if something this horrible happened to them. In one hit, he just lost everyone he loved: his wife and his unborn child.
Of course, the way The Joker handled his loss is not the way anyone should. The Joker is still a villain and needs to be locked up – and kept there. But I can understand the frustration. Wanting to do everything for someone or the people you love and then they’re ripped away from you. When you want to cancel what you wanted to do for them, you’re forced to do it anyway. And as icing on the cake, the whole plan goes south. That would be very depressing for any normal human being…
The Joker’s opinion about memories
The Joker mentions something in Batman: The Killing Joke that got me thinking. He said:
Remembering is dangerous. I find the past such a worrying, anxious place. Memory’s so treacherous. One moment you’re lost in a carnival of delights, with poignant childhood aromas, the flashing neon of puberty, all that sentimental candy-floss… the next, it takes you somewhere you don’t want to be. Somewhere dark and cold, filled with the damp ambiguous shapes of things you’d rather forget. Memories can be vile, repulsive little brutes. Like children, no? But can we live without them? Memories are what our reason is based on. If we deny them, we deny reason itself! Although, what’s wrong with that really? It’s not like we’re contractually tied down to rationality! There is no sanity clause! So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unavoidable, remember this: there’s always madness. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away… forever.
Even though it’s an insane thought, The Joker has a point. Memories can really haunt us. Even when we think that, for example, we’ve gotten over the death of a loved one, something can still trigger a memory. Say it’s a good memory, one where you can laugh about something stupid the person did. That can trigger another memory: “I’ll never get to see him/her do that again”. Although you may have just laughed about the funny memory, the last part (the realization) will always hurt. So sometimes madness might be an interesting way out. Obviously, I’m not saying go kill someone like The Joker did, but madness could also be going out to a karaoke bar even though you know your singing talents are horrible. It could be going out to a club and dancing with a complete stranger, although you’re shy of nature. Maybe you could even text a relative who you haven’t spoken to in years because of some fight you had. This “madness” will help you to (at least temporarily) not focus on the pain of the memories…
Do what works for you. Choose your own madness, in a positive way of course!