The Joker Changed My Perspective


Why so serious? A line that defined the Joker. Not as a character, but as a psychotic terrorist. The Joker has been depicted in various ways, but Heath Ledger’s Joker feels grounded in depth and complexity. 

He lacks an origin, but is still powerful and expresses the uncanny qualities of a psychopath. In other words, he’s simply pure evil and the embodiment of anarchy. To prove my point, let’s go back to The Dark Knight.

The hospital room scene. My favorite scene of any movie to date. This scene truly expresses the Joker’s sadistic mindset and the manipulation he possesses over the weak. 

At this point in the film, Harvey Dent is in the hospital because of his injuries caused by a warehouse explosion. Well, the Joker is there too, but only there to manipulate Harvey. The Joker knows he can use Harvey as an asset in his criminal enterprise to break Batman. 

The Joker wants to break and damage him so he could stray away from his code of not killing.  In this scene, Harvey takes a bit of convincing so the Joker allows him to flip a coin to determine his fate. But while doing so, the Joker uses this moment to his advantage.

The Joker has a revolver in his possession to create a sense of trust and choice between the two characters. The revolver is in Dent’s hands but the Joker is too intelligent to let a coin decide. Instead, the Joker keeps his finger on the hammer so even if Harvey pulls the trigger, nothing will happen.

So, how did this scene, the performance by Heath Ledger, and/or The Dark Knight change my perspective?

Let’s start off with the performance of Heath Ledger with this refreshed yet psychotic take on the infamous supervillain, the Joker. 

This performance is haunting because it actively reminded me of the very society I live in. That society widely referred to as the ghetto is consumed in poverty, violence, and social injustice. Like the Joker or even Batman, many within the so-called Ghetto feel as if they have no choice but to take the law into their own hands, either for good or bad reasons. 

The overwhelming feelings that find themselves ingrained into the mind of many within this type of environment can lead to chaos. A devastating cycle of everlasting violence, poverty, and social injustice is also heavily present within the fictional re-adaptation of mid-1900s NYC.

These ruminations of this unfortunate cycle were brought to the forefront in the hospital scene by presenting a wide array of altering emotions and manners of manipulation that I have ever seen in my life.

I’ve seen this form of manipulation and deceptiveness being utilized within my own family and in my neighborhood. My family tends to be a bit dysfunctional, so manipulation seeps through, especially in arguments. As to my neighborhood, I see this on a daily basis because many are consistently trying to evade law enforcement. 

Of course, it’s not to the extreme in which the film presents manipulation and deceptiveness. But being exposed to that on a daily basis has made me not want to be the type of person who carries those problematic traits, but to say I haven’t been shown those from time to time in my past would be a lie.

Although those two traits may be present for many in these types of communities, it’s not because we want it to be that certain way. It boils down to the underlying social injustices within the “Ghetto” which can be broken down into 3 words; Lack of protection. 

You may ask, “Lack of protection from who?” and my reply would be, from the police. Oftentimes, as a community, we feel unheard, undervalued, and unguarded by those who should be protecting us. Sometimes, we may even feel less worthy within the world as many would in the fictional setting Gotham. 

With that said, “The Dark Knight” has affected me in ways no other film can due to its relatability to those like myself who have grown up in poverty and crime-stricken environments. 

As I saw the world for what it truly was, I began to understand what I wanted all along not only for myself but for the community as well. I wanted a Batman, instead of having to be one.

Hopefully, we’ll get our Batman soon before we become even more fractured than we already are.