The Dark Knight Unmasked (Diminished Responsibilty)

In one of the final scenes of the film, Joker stages a scenario involving two camps of people having to decide the value of life. He pits the inmates against the freeman, and gives a detonator to each, before informing both people that “at midnight, I blow you both up. If however one of you presses the button I’ll let that boat live. So, whose it going to be Harvey Dents most wanted scumbag collection or the sweet and innocent civilians? You chose, oh, and you might want to decide quickly because the people on the other boat might not be quite so noble.” Immediately, this statement provokes frenzy, with self-elected representatives of the noble free-people, arguing “well now, who are you to decide, we ought to talk this over at least”; “We don’t all have to die, those men had their chance”, “why aren’t we talking about”; “they’re talking over the same exact thing over on the other boat” and “Lets put it to a vote”. Meanwhile, on the “convict” boat, the armed guards cock their guns to maintain order, for both groups are compromised by the time element of time, which itself, transforms the dimensions of the situation. Seeking to prevent any deaths, Batman attempts to locate the Joker so he can disarm the detonator, and yet, he is also caught in time-bound scenario, as he caught between rescuing and saving the lives of hostages – about the be mistakenly murdered by the SWAT team – and locating Joker before the detonator explodes. This scene, nevertheless, provokes thought about the nature of distinctions, for maybe we might say that there is little difference between the SWAT teams misguided attempts to rescue the people they mistake for “hostages”, compared with the people on the boats trying to save their own. This scene also provides a useful study into the way in which people are transformed by situational factors which dominate their choices, for just as Joker, throughout the movie, seems to be concerned with both exploiting deception and unmasking pretence, his chaotic, panic-inducing scenario, invites the peoples to suddenly make choices which radically impact upon others.

It has been said that people are only honest if they are dead or if they are anonymous, and yet, what does this mean? Anonymity might as easily be conceived as unaccountable and yet, entertaining that, there are multiple scenarios when people can operate without impunity scrutiny, and with “diminished responsibility” what are we really saying, we might determine that people do what they will, and have their wishes fulfilled – or fulfil their wises – when people are not scrutinising, and thereby excusing their actions, and yet, when might this occur? Either when they are in a group setting which means they ill not be held accountable individually – but only categorically, assuming they are held accountable at all -or, alternatively, when they are “forced” to do something (although time might just as easily be viewed as a pressure and compromising factor/restraint.) In fact, psychologists often entertain the idea of wish-fulfilment being lived-out through rape which balances the ambivalence of fear and desire. Even if morbid, morose, and melancholic, it might be said that the escapist fantasy of rape is n attempt to live without a sense of accountability, whilst still reaping the rewards, in as much as it is absolving the “victim” of responsibility, despite forcing upon the a morbid pleasure. Of course, readers might pretend to be disturbed by this, but if this is so, perhaps it is only because they are failed by their reluctance to appreciate the subtleties of these scenarios and the varying degrees of complexity involved in arriving at a conception of rape, and a suitable definition. If we simply entertain the idea of rape as “sex without permission”, we might quickly note that people can permit something without explicitly granting permission.

Many people, evidently, revel in alcohol because, like the erotic darkness of night (anonymity), they see it as liberating. It gives them a chance to let surface that which is otherwise inhibited, and so, when people are forced to do things, or put another way, have things “done to” them, or just have others take charge of situations, they might secretly be relived and even delighted. Evidently, with irony, it might be concluded that people will tolerate “force” (pressure) provided this force overwhelms the force of reason (“conscience”). This being so, the boat scenario provides useful study material which might offer an insight into people and the way n which they respond to pressure, for it contains, on one oat, the anonymity of the vote, and on the other boat, the anonymity of force. In the first instance, when those on the free-people boat decide to take a vote, it might be viewed as a step closer to having them reveal their primary self-interest, and their true colours. Upon collecting the results of the free people boat, vote, “the tally is 140 against, 296 for.” Attempting to urge the detonator to be pressed, one woman urges “so go ahead do it”, only to be rebutted: “we’re still here, that means they haven’t killed us either.” It might be said, that there is still and restraining element, and yet, it might also be said that the captain, who makes this defence of live, is still compelled by the normative values they have internalised, as opposed to be wilfully virtuous. Speaking in front of a crowd and being charged with the duty and responsibility to press the detonator, his job of sounding righteous might be facilitated by the fact he feels compelled to talk correctly, but what of the prisoner from whom people seemingly expect less? On the boat, approaching the detonator, the prisoner says “you don’t want to die but you don’t know how to take a life…give it to me. You can tell them I took it by force….” Meanwhile, on the other boat, a livid individual, rationalising his terror, claims “no one wants to get their hands dirty, fine, I’ll do it. Those men on that boat, they made their choices, they chose to murder and steal; it doesn’t make any sense for us to die too.” Yes, indeed. In their final moments, people show you who they truly are, and the very same thing might be extended to Gordon on the rooftop.

About omalone1

I live I die I write
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