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Archive for February 26th, 2015

THE_JOKER

In a previous post, “Pursuing Worldview Apologetics and being Culturally Informed Without Compromise” I argued that there is a way where we can be biblicalengaging, and informed in our cultural apologetics while achieving that without sacrificing our sanctification:

…one way to not compromise our norms while also being informed is to see what other informed social critics have to say about a particular pop figure or cultural phenomenon.  I think one doesn’t have to experience every form of media and entertainment to critically reflect upon it as a Christian.  An example of how a Christian can be informed and reflect critically without “seeing” something is with the current crisis with ISIS.  You do not have to watch the beheading of 21 Egyptians or the burning of a Jordanian pilot to be informed about it; one can find detailed written analysis of the videos, scholarly evaluation of it’s meaning, purpose, etc.  If one put the effort one might find in-depth evaluation of ISIS militarily, geo-politically, economically and theologically.  I can’t imagine many people looking down on someone who is informed about ISIS while making the deliberate choice of not watching ISIS’ sick videos.  To demand that one can only intelligently talk about something through the experience of watching it it is really a form of audio-visual Gnosticism.

Here in this post I wanted to give an example of what that would look like with a Christian character study of the supervillain Joker.

Through Youtube I discovered that there are clips from a History channel documentary on the Joker.

The longer clip of it is below:

The shorter clip is below:

Joker: A Worldview Villain

Joker really is not merely a psychologically disturbed villain of batman; he is also the outworking of a particular worldview.  In the video clip Rabbi Cary Friedman who authored Wisdom from the Batcave said about the Joker: “He represent a kind of chaos, of meaninglessness, of randomness.  The idea of the character of the Joker is just the luck of the cards.”  Danny Fingeroth, the author of Superman on the Couch also tells us that “the Joker has an agenda of chaos.  He is a unique villain in that he is not even necessarily after money or power or any of those traditional things.  So that’s really the hardest kind of evil to fight because you cannot bargain with it.”  This fascination for chaos reflects Joker’s view of the world and life.  I thought what Professor of Social Psychology Benjamin Karney has to say is insightful concerning the philosophical nature of the conflict between Batman and the Joker:

Batman says philosophically we can acknowledge an imperfect world, we can acknowledge that we have to step outside of social norms but that does not make the social norms meaningless.  The Joker says that the presence of random injustice means that there is no justice.  The fact that innocence can be destroyed means there is no innocence.  So your life is a joke.  Now when someone says your life is a joke that is a challenge.  It is not just a physical challenge it is a moral challenge, it is an intellectual challenge and Batman can’t let that go because the Joker isn’t just threatening him physically, he’s threatening the premise of Batman’s existence.  That’s why it’s such an epic discussion they are having.  Of course it is played out physically and in fights and punches and gunshots.  Ultimately it’s a philosophical conflict and it’s not one that’s easy to resolve.”

I appreciated Dr. Karney’s observation that the fight between Batman and Joker is not merely physical but philosophical.  Philosophically speaking, Joker subscribes to a form of Nietzsche’s philosophy.  Seeing Joker’s application of a nhilistic philosophy of chaos with the goal of merely triumphing one’s will over others should make us repulse at the incarnation of such a philosophy.  We must not forget that ideas have consequences.

Is Batman the Solution?

 

No doubt in Gotham the only one who can challenge the Joker is Batman.  And yet in the comics Joker is never fully contained.  Sooner or later Joker escapes and wreck havoc on the innocent.  While the Batman is the only who could check Joker, the unfortunate reality is that Batman’s own philosophy is against capital punishment.  This in turn leads Batman’s desire to capture Joker everytime so that he can be rehabilitated.  Thus Batman enables the Joker to continue his evil, given Joker’s track record of being able to escape.  Patrick Chan has written more about this dilemma over at Triablogue.

Thinking Spiritually

  • The Joker is a repulsive character.  He is the embodiment of a worldview that believes everything is chaos and that social norms and justice is meaningless.  One might find the character cool as entertainment but when someone does paint their face as the Joker and shoots up a Theatre in real life we all are awaken at the danger of what the Joker and his philosophy means.
  • I’ve always thought the Joker was more of an accurate portrayal of Satan than a red horned figure with pitchforks.  The Joker doesn’t care if he wins and yet continues with his sins.  The Joker also is crafty enough to get others to participate in his evil schemes often by taking advantage of people’s greed and other temptation.  What an illustration of the demonic.
  • No doubt if one reflect deeply on Joker, one want to see him eventually face justice once and for all.  Batman is not enough.  The desire for ultimate justice can only be fulfilled when God judges all the world.  That won’t happen until Christ’s second coming.  We should long for it.

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