I’ve joined the ranks of normalcy again by viewing Dark Knight this weekend. I’m not a huge comic fan (and I owe my Batman knowledge to the tv show, which had an inordinate influence on my understanding of superheroes as I now have a certain expectation for latent homosexuality and campy fight scenes).
warning: spoilerage and vague wanderings
Awesome effects. Interesting characters. Somehow Christian Bale was sexy when usually he’s just creepy. But I left the theatre feeling a bit disturbed. As compelling as Heath’s Joker was, I kept coming back to the character of the “police” or “government”.
Every time I saw a group of cops in the movie, with their matching uniforms and masked faces, I thought of the ability of the crowd to take away an option. They move as one and the purpose is to destroy whatever is identified (or codified) as the “bad guy”. And as the Batman shows them, sometimes their target is incorrect.
There is also the crowds who take on the Joker’s challenge – take one man’s life to save a hospital. It made me literally scared at the idea that this could happen, because it is far too easy to imagine what would become of everyday people in this kind of game. How easy it is to imagine the media frenzy that would ensue and the number of guns at hand and the sense of “we all want to do it”.
The ferry scene is meant to comment on this, I think, and to redeem us. It’s a take on a very old psychology experiment with much greater stakes. But it felt forced and somewhat unbelievable though hoped.
And of course Batman’s final choice, to be the Dark Knight, is necessary only because the wisdom of crowds doesn’t allow for grey – only black and white. There must be someone to chase, and it must be clear which side they are on. Thus we preserve one knight for the light and one for the dark. We are incapable of finer understanding in our crowds.