Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight Darkly

Having just seen the Batman movie, here are my questions to self. Is it the ID unchecked, does it celebrate pure joy thru, traveling on the impregnable vehicle called mayhem. If, as we are told, the strength of a story lies in its villain then this is a strong story all right. That we celebrate the joyous nature of the actor's performance is something to think about, perhaps, for a moment. The character has all motive removed from his nature, allowing him to act unfettered like a baby. Only this is one smart baby who seems to be saying, "if you remove the rules, then you are unbeatable." Remember when McEnroe was the darling of US tennis, the brash American? We marveled at his game and, for me, anyway, justified his antics as being necessary for the result. The end justified the means, if the means was to win championships. But for him, it seemed then that he had issues and in his joy, his angst ridden joy, of playing tennis at the highest possible level he was "working them out." Much is the same here of the Joker. He's not evil incarnate, whatever that means, but sympathetic in a humanistic way as he bluffs and feints his way thru one chaotically destructive moment to another. It's just a movie, yes, but whatever our grand contribution is to the global psyche, our greatest American exportable resource is probably, at this point, digitally encoded information designed to entertain and generate commerce. Film (although it's not film anymore), Television, and other pop culture delivery systems. Rarely does art and commerce converge for two-and-a-half hours as it does in this case and the results are certainly satisfying to both houses thanks to the presumed moral compass of the captain, the director. How he navigates the project thru the Time Warner conglomerate is a faithful reassurance of the big-box theory of entertainment creation, the studio system. For this picture is clearly not a result of a committee, rather a technically gifted group who have nurtured their baby and now, like the rest of us, sit back and watch. They have, both, prepared him to comingle as much as they have let him loose on the world. Sadly the actor who crafted this graceful, terrifyingly joyful performance is not here to help us frame it, perhaps to give it context, even if it would be to say, "Hey, I had fun with this! It's art, don't try this at home." For those of us who live in world of entertainment and pop culture as a business and, for those of us who further appreciate the fleeting opportunities to "enjoy the show", this filmed story may give us a bridge which, when crossed, may help further the cause of personal involvement; involvement in self, family, community and the world at large. The id unchecked knows no balance and ultimately no joy, without other elements by which to reflect off of. But yes, it is fun, more than fun, to watch. It's the nagging feeling that the "more than fun" part is elusive enough to find a bottom before it finds a top that may be worrisome, if you are in law enforcement anyway. Not show business.




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