Birthday - Hunter Thompson (writer)
Birthday - Nelson Mandela (statesman - S. Africa)
Constitution Day (Uruguay)
I think the Joker is a god.
No, really. I think he occupies a part of our psyche reserved for archetypes. Just because the medium has changed—now we have pop culture instead of fancy classic culture, because we all know that fancy classic culture was never pop culture—doesn’t mean we all don’t still have all these stories that float around and change with the retelling.
Sure, Bats is in the pantheon, too—he’s popular because there’s something about him we need in our narratives—but I’ve been thinking of the Joker more lately because I'm a shameless Joker fangirl and because of a certain event that brought him to the foreground in this movie. He’s the trickster and the force of chaos, in the same sense that Loki or Eris or Coyote or Anansi are (although he’s definitely on the dark end of the spectrum). Only he, as the modern version, actually resonates with us. I say this because—well, because people are saying he killed Heath Ledger.
I’ve heard a few stories about this—Heath is a method actor, and he got too into the role and looked into the abyss and couldn’t take it and killed himself; or maybe it was an accident, but by god he wouldn’t have been taking those sleeping pills if he hadn’t been so shaken by his role as the Joker. Now I myself think that you’d have to have some other problems first to let that get to you—if the role did anything, it was to exacerbate something that was already there that made him need those pills.
But see, that doesn’t matter.
The fact that we are willing to say the Joker did it—that this fictional pop culture character, a character originally made up for a one-shot run who seemed to hit a nerve and stayed—means that we think he’s got some power. People are willing to believe he reached through the fourth wall and actually did something physical, and that he is dark enough to scare someone that much. And since his kind of power is over our minds, thinking he’s got the power gives him power. It’s like profanity, or economics, or any superstition or religion or other form of magic people really believe—it’s not real, but we behave as if it has some bearing on us. And our reaction to Heath’s unfortunate death, among other things, proves that crazy clown has definitely got that power.
He's in our heads, and our belief creates and sustains him, and even gives him some tangible strength.
That, my friends, is how gods are born.
The movie’s pretty good, for the record. The attempt to make Bats sound like Kevin Conroy* In Stereo was sorta silly, but c'mon! It’s made entirely of climaxes, and some people may recognize that one character arc is all about the DC idea of One Bad Day. What more could you ask for?
(Possibly my favorite moment is the Disappearing Pencil, because it was so perfectly a summation of the Joker: every member of the audience in my theater curled up into a horrified ball and burst out laughing when he made it disappear. I don't think I've ever seen that reaction to anything that strongly before.)
*The only true voice of Batman.