7 Times The Joker Was Actually Right
Crazy, psychotic, insane – all these words that come to mind at the mere mention of the Joker. But at the same time, we can’t deny that his opinions can be quite persuasive – and it’s happened more than once. So, is it possible that beliefs of the most infamously insane super-villain in all of comics can actually… make sense? Or, in Joker’s own words - "Is it just me or is it getting crazier out there?" Let's see where and how Batman's arch-enemy was right in his beliefs - and his actions.
1. The Joker fights the corrupt elite
No sane person could ever call the Joker a hero, but he somehow managed to do at least ONE good thing. Joker eliminated the corrupt police and destroyed Gotham’s organized crime financially, after all. This means that, in his own twisted way, he accomplished what Batman never could. And in a way, you could even say that Batman himself was a part of this corrupt elite as he used his enormous family fortune to influence the authorities and the city’s politicians.
Bruce Wayne’s financial clout was used to control Gotham’s politics for years and, as we saw in ‘The Dark Knight’, it didn’t do the city much good. Crumbling infrastructure, sky-high crime rates, vast inequality. Wayne’s way wasn’t working. It’s arguable that, despite being an agent of chaos, the Joker’s schemes and straightforward violence triggered more important changes than The Dark Knight himself made over the years of his own pugilistic protection over the city of Gotham.
2. The Joker Understands the World
One of the most important things that the Joker is absolutely right about is his understanding of the madness that underpins the modern world.
In his unrivaled classic of the Batman canon, Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’ describes the way the Joker sees the world for the first time. In his unrivaled classic of the Batman canon, Alan Moore’s ‘The Killing Joke’ describes the way the Joker sees the world for the first time. So the Joker’s madness “becomes the emergency exit”. And even better, it’s an equal opportunity!
Anyone at all is just one bad day away from insanity, and the path of the Joker offers everyone a way out of that pain. The Joker’s monologues ‘The Killing Joke’ are painfully sincere to the extent that a reader can begin to understand where he’s coming from – and even share the Joker’s views, despite all the abhorrent stuff that he does.
The essence of the Joker’s belief is that the whole world is a joke, – as he says, “a monstrous, demented gag.” Who hasn’t had the same feeling at some point in their life? In the end, even Batman himself has to laugh, as if he too understands this cruel global joke. After all, how else could you explain Batman except as a fanatic, motivated and dedicated the making sense of the world because of one bad day?
3. The Joker is Having Fun
And what’s left when nothing else can be done? The answer is simple – relax and have fun! The Joker is, perhaps, the only villain who explicitly enjoys his work without having to get gritty. It can even be appealing to have a character who can see the funny side in everything. This “bright” side of the Joker is most noticeable in comparison with the sourness of Batman, especially more modern interpretations of the character: always serious, ever grim, and constantly overwhelmed by his past experience and the decisions he has to make.
Both Joker and Batman see how unfair life is, how bad it can treat virtually anybody, but their reaction couldn’t be more markedly different. While Batman is obsessively driven to fight crime in this mad world, he doesn’t seem to enjoy his success. In contrast, even when the Clown Prince of Crime fails, he’s constantly asking:
“Why can't you see the funny side? Why aren't you laughing?”
And we’re sure you can agree… because watching the Joker and Batman fight is one hell of a lot of fun. Their standoff in the comics and in the movies has always been a spectacular show, all orchestrated by a showman who really enjoys his work – wreaking havoc.
4. The Joker Accepts Himself
The Joker never hides his true nature. Rather, he prefers to make a parade of it! When his world collapsed on that ‘one bad day’, the Joker embraced the inherent darkness found in every human’s psyche. And that’s both appealing and terrifying in equal measure, especially considering the mayhem the Joker causes! That’s why the cackling villain is so perennially popular – he’s FREE in all the ways you are not. Remind you of anyone?
Absolutely and totally free to do whatever he wants, no matter how gruesome it is, and free to get away with it too. So, ultimately, wearing the mask of insanity seems like a very… sane move, right? Because the idea of a mentally healthy person motivated by logic who can rationally choose to disregard life as valuable is very much unsettling. So it’s more appropriate to think of such a person as a psychopath. But is that actually true? That’s the question the character of the Joker forces everyone to answer for themselves.
5. The Joker Knows He Is Chained to Batman
Another thing that the Joker accepts readily about himself is that he needs Batman. And that perhaps Batman needs him, too. Yes, they’re antagonists... but they’re not exactly fire and ice! At least not, the way the Joker sees it. And again – he acknowledges it, revealing more than once that Batman completes him (just as he tells him in ‘The Dark Knight’) But why? In this respect, they’re two sides of the same coin. And it drives the Joker crazy that the only person who he feels can truly understand him appears to follow the opposite path.
Moreover, in Frank Miller's classic graphic novel ‘The Dark Knight Returns’, where the aging Batman retires and is suddenly absent from the Joker’s life, we see that the villain actually has no reason to continue living his life of crime, content to quietly while away his days in a fugue state in Arkham.
But his demented personality is immediately reactivated and he’s back to bringing chaos to the world as soon as Batman steps back into the picture. And what’s the first thing the Joker does? He goes to a television talk show, where he constantly refers to Batman as his ‘darling’ and ‘my sweet.’ So it’s no wonder that in many graphic novels, the Joker’s feelings towards Batman are described as something closer to love than hate. Even “The LEGO Batman Movie” hints at that!
6. The Joker Accepts that Everyone Dies
As long as he lives, the Joker will never stop confronting Batman. And even if he dies, that doesn’t necessarily stop him! How come? The fact is that throughout the comics, the Joker has not only has caused countless deaths, he’s also died more than a few times himself! And some of the Joker’s deaths have been quite memorable but what’s more important – he always faces death unabashed and laughing. His philosophy? Well, as he says in Tim Burton’s ‘Batman’:
“If you gotta go, go with a smile!”
Because the Joker has accepted this fundamental reality of the world – everybody dies. But as long as he lives – he’s going to have a good time! Though, admittedly, his good time usually involves terror and death. Moreover, the Joker wants his death to MEAN something. In the most recent controversial movie, Joker, he says
“I hope my death makes more sense than my life”.
But that’s not exactly what he would want in the classic canon. Classic DC Joker wants to taunt Batman into killing him, making Batman break his cardinal rule. That would be the Joker’s ultimate victory over The Dark Knight. And if the Joker were dead, Gotham would undeniably be a much safer place, right? Even the Joker admits that it’s obvious to everyone but Batman, who remains inflexible in his inability to end a life.
7. The Joker Knows Money Can't Buy Happiness
Although the Clown Prince of Crime needs money to buy weapons, explosives and occasionally pay to his sidekicks, he’s not actually interested in being rich. You surely remember that scene from ‘The Dark Knight’ where the Joker burns a pile of cash with a wide grin on his face! As he articulates with worrying sanity:
“It’s not about the money. It’s about sending a message.”
And this excellent illustration of the Joker’s attitude to money has been depicted more than once across various storylines. That said, everyone deserves to be paid a fair wage for their work, right? And that’s what the Joker says to the organized crime bosses of Gotham in ‘The Dark Knight’:
“If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
The Joker knows that money can’t buy you happiness… but he’s not so blind that he can’t admit that it can help you buy many, many small pleasures! You know, pleasures like gasoline, bullets, dynamite...So! Do you agree that the Joker actually seems to act quite reasonably for a person who’s typically considered insane?