While reading some articles about how the film "The Dark Knight" is bound to be snubbed at the Academy Awards I ran across this article entitled "The Dark Knight Turns Out to Be a Dick Cheney Fantasy" where in the author turns what is probably one of the best movies of 2008 into a propaganda film for right wing ideology. This caused me to silently think to myself, "huh?"
The author spends some time point out some key points in the movie but fails to understand some very basic aspects of the Batman mythos. For example
…the Joker’s violent schemes are described as inexplicable, pure chaos, the actions of a man who starts fires "just to see them burn."
To really understand the Joker, you need to have read two very important graphic novels: "Killing Joke" and Grant Morrison’s "Arkham Asylum" both which give phenomenal insight into the Joker’s mind set (and both have been mentioned by Nolan & Ledger as the inspiration for their Joker). These really explain that the Joker really has zero rhyme/reason to his madness. In fact, "Arkham Asylum" goes so far as to say that the Joker represents a kind of "super sanity" in which he reinvents himself on a daily basis. This kind of thinking can be seen in Nolan’s Joker in that the story of his scared face changes each time he tells the story.
The problem is, previous representations of the Joker on screens both large and small, play him as a jokester rather than a crazy clown. The reason for this being that with the popular Fox animated series from the nineties is that it was geared towards children and you can’t have a murderous clown in a children’s cartoon. Even the 60’s Batman series played the Joker as a prankster rather than crazy. However, the comic shows that the Joker is truly crazy and will do just about anything for a "laugh" he really does just want to "watch the world burn" as Alfred puts it.
In the comics, the Joker kills a Robin, threatens to detonate a nuclear bomb, and even eventually kills the wife of Commissioner Gordan in cold blood. He doesn’t really care about money, fame, or his own life. He just does what he does because 1) He can and 2) he wants to.
Also, another aspect of the Joker that the author completely ignores is that he is the chaos to Batman’s control. Batman has to be in control. He constantly learns from his mistakes and ensures to not repeat them. However the Joker is the exact opposite. The yang to Batman’s ying. To completely ignore this aspect of the two characters is to ignore the very essence of each of them.
If you read further into the comments, some reader goes so far as to mention that the Joker "video tapes his victims before he kills them" and that he blew up a hospital. Again, it is obvious these people have never read a comic book and look at movies and television for their knowledge of the Joker character. First off, the Joker used the radio in the early comics to announce his crimes. Usually as a direct challenge to both the police and Batman. You can look at DC’s trade paperback book "Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told" to see many examples of this. The videos in "The Dark Knight" are just simply an extension of this behavior (not to mention a more modern version of it). Also the Joker blows up many buildings throughout his career. Many times for no other reason than just do so. There’s even a whole miniseries where he goes on to hack Gotham’s computer systems and bring the city to a grinding halt (similar to "Live Free or Die Hard").
The thing about the Joker in Nolan’s film is that he is probably the purest representation of the Joker on any screen. And this scares people. There are people out there that commit atrocities for the sole purpose of doing so. They do so without reason. To deny that there is evil in this world is simply ignorance at it’s purest. Also, I think that the author some of the people who commented on the referenced article are just reading way too much into a comic book movie. Really, it’s just a movie folks, its not propaganda.