I have been a huge fan of this film for a long time. One reason is Heath Ledger’s incredible acting and Christopher Nolan’s incredible directing. Another reason is that Nolan used the Joker’s character similar to the way that the author Fyodor Dostoevsky used his characters, who act like mad men laughing at society’s hypocrisies. These mad men understand those hypocrisies all too well because they themselves knowingly committed the same wrongs that society commits, but in a more extreme fashion.
Recently, another YouTuber, Sam Pepper, put out a video of himself going around touching women’s butts. Immediately, the rest of society, via the Internet, lit up in attack on Pepper. When celebrity nude photos were leaked, countless op-eds were released defending the celebrities. Puschak pointed out that society, especially in the age of the Internet, regulates morality. Puschak thinks this is a good thing because he believes society is moving in the right direction, that it is as a whole moral enough to properly enforce morality using the Internet.
The Jokers quote in the opening paragraph flies directly in the face of the idea that Society can regulate morality. While some believe that ethics of society is increasing, The Joker believes that society is always on the cusp of total chaos and depravity. The Joker’s point is that modern Westerners will be willing to act morally as long as they feel secure. Consider this, Donald Trump is close to being elected POTUS even though he has flip-flopped on every major issue, lied blatantly on stage countless times, has been involved in a serious business scandal and has often spewed racist and sexist speech. Many people are willing to elect him despite his flaws because he offers safety from the recent terror attacks and security in an economy that many feel to be unstable.
Even if you believe that Donald Trump is an anomaly, and usually people will elect someone sane, remember what our own government is willing to do to keep us safe. They have actively spied on us filtered through our most intimate photos. On top of the brutalities on terrorist suspects, the guardian has reported incredible brutalities undergone in Guantanamo Bay to prisoners, which are held without trail. Our government is willing to do things considered morally wrong in order to keep Americans safe.. And many Americans are fine with it, they may believe it is wrong what the government does, but they love their safety too much to get active or make it a primary issue in the elections.
That brings me to the Joker’s next point. “You know what I noticed, nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that I’d like a gangbanger [to] to shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blowing up; nobody panics because it is all a part of the plan, but when I say that one little old mayor will die; well then everyone loses their minds!” Few people fight to stop prison rape, even though Human Rights Watch has reported that it is widespread, however when one YouTuber pinches girls on the butt society goes nuts. Few people are will to speak against the violent and abusive world that pornographic models and actresses have to go through, but when a NASA employee wears a shirt objectifying women society lights up in attack and defense of him. My point is that society is only capable of fighting immorality that is new and different, yet we accept the age-old sins.
I understand that there are activist trying to stop prison rape and the abuse in the porn industry. However, when I am talking about social reaction I am talking about the passivity of the broader public, which lights up though social media when some new or crazy committed wrong comes up. Most people are only willing to yell, argue, using social media, but when real activism is needed few people are willing to volunteer.
Society clearly can’t be trusted to enforce morality. This goes against a common strain of thought in our society; that society is for the most part good. Puschak believes we can use the Internet to pressure people into being moral. However, the Joker and I believe that this does nothing in the long run, and we believe society can’t be trusted to use the Internet this way even if Socially Enforced Morality had any real effect.
Op-ed submitted by Bruce Truax