One bad day.
Would you believe that all it takes for a normal person to go insane is just one bad day? There’s fine line between morality, truth, love, hope, and all that other stuff versus just going completely crazy and not caring for a thing in the world. Let’s say you lose your wife or girlfriend, or your husband cheats, or say you lose your job and all the money you thought you had, or even a close relative dies. Will your sense of morality and hope be still the same? Or maybe they’re just the same: being normal and becoming crazy. All it takes is one stroke of luck or one crappy day and everything you know goes out the window.
Maybe this battle of different philosophies can be easier to understand through the world of comics.
In the Killing Joke, author Allan Moore and artist Brian Bolland creates a riveting tale about Joker and Batman and how their unconventional relationship brings about the concepts of morality and being sane. This goes beyond pop culture’s belief of good versus evil and talks about how a singular event can change a course of person’s life forever. It deals with the idea that in the face of an earthshaking and heartbreaking event, what would you do?
In the Joker’s case, he was a perfectly common man trying to make a living and raise a family. I love how the graphic novel portrays Joker in the beginning (before he became the Joker) as a normal human being that can feel compassion, loss, grief, hope, and love. But he threw away all these emotions because of that one fateful day. His pregnant wife dies and then gets caught up with the wrong crowd and nearly gets himself killed on a crime scene. The result is a man with no purpose, reason, or morality: The Joker.
On the other hand, the same can also be said regarding the Batman. He became the caped crusader all because of that day when he saw his parents die right before his eyes. You could also say he’s just as crazy as the Joker, though a different sense of crazy of course. His never-ending battle of crime might look admirable to some people, but his darkness and his demons still haunt him as he fights for justice.
As I’ve read the Killing Joke for the nth time, it still strikes me how Joker’s intentions seemed “logical” even though they were completely wrong. Joker shoots Barbara, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, at the spine then strips her naked and photographs it all. To top it all of, after he kidnaps the Commissioner, he shows the photographs of the humiliated Barbara to the Commissioner! Sick, real sick. Why did he do all that? To prove a point. If he could take everything away from Gordon and make him desperate enough to realize he has nothing else to live, then Gordon would go crazy just like he went crazy. He says on one panel, “I’ve demonstrated there’s no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.”
In the end Batman saves the day of course. Amazingly, the Commissioner didn’t go insane when he had all the reason to. He didn’t want to kill the Joker but instead wills himself to merely put him in prison.
Looking at my own life, I see this struggle more than ever. It’s amazing how one day you seem to have everything figured out but then suddenly you’re just the same as everyone else trying to make ends meet. There are always two choices when pressed with a difficult situation: you accept it and move on or you go crazy and let evil take over. Going crazy and not care anymore seems to be easier decision because you don’t need to care and push yourself. It’s so easy and also logical. It’s so easy and that’s why it’s tempting. Likewise, it’s also not difficult just to mince words and say everything will be all right. You know, talk about dreams, hope, and all that stuff, but in the end, you can’t undo the things of the past. When all the cards are on the table and you don’t have an ace up your sleeve, you simply fold. Go crazy and let evil take over.
I’ve always admired Batman, but technically he is still kind of crazy when you really look at it. It seems that he’s got everything put together with a sense of mission saving the world and all that, but deep down he’s cold hearted, no emotions, and no sense of living. So with the options set before me, will I go crazy or not? Maybe I won’t go far as being the Joker and totally lose it, maybe just become Batman: a man who fights the never-ending battle against the evil in the world and against the demons in his own dark soul.