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August 17th, 2008

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11:46 pm - An evening of archetypes with friends old and new
Went to see "The Dark Knight" at the IMAX theater by Lincoln Center with page_of_swords, kitapsolucani and squeektoy42 and her husband, and got to meet a few new folks -- iamtrogdor, gungadi, and goofybaboon. I'd seen it as soon as it came out, a few weeks back, but I wanted to see it again on the big screen as well as finding out if it would bear repeated viewings.

It does. In spades.

The action sequences were just as spiffy and thrilling the second time round and Ledger's Joker just as disturbingly perfect. In later discussions with folks, I had a chance to talk a bit about a few of my observations from the film.

First one was that the Joker is an enormously intelligent character, but I really don't think that he is insane. I think he's a complete sociopath, but it's by choice, since it amuses him to be so, and he could easily choose to be otherwise, if for example handing out bouquets and bunnies amused him more. He may fit some of the criteria used in diagnosing mental illness in this society, since his behavior is anti-social and aberrant from the view of the larger society, but that behavior is because he chooses to be antisocial, not that he is incapable of being anything else but antisocial. (This part also has to do with some of my personal views on psychiatry's use as a method of social control and "norming" and YMMV here. To me, if something like homosexuality, which was formerly classified as a mental illness but no longer is, due to societal changes towards greater acceptance of this formerly-classified-as-aberrant-behavior, then as far as I'm concerned, the basis of what is or is not "crazy" has a strong cultural bias, and is not necessarily based on organic physical causes that have a behavioral presentation but on how well someone is able to "fit in" to a societally-approved pigeonhole.) The Joker may be a sociopath, but in my opinion he is not a psychopath. He's the class clown gone bad -- bored and causing trouble just to amuse himself.

This train of thought led to another, related one, about the use of archetypes in the film. I tended to think of the characters in terms of what gamers might call their "alignments". I definitely consider the Joker to be Chaotic, but unlike others, I really wouldn't classify him as Chaotic Evil -- I think he's a better fit as Chaotic Neutral, since I fully believe he is not incapable of doing good, he simply chooses not to. (Which also ties into my earlier point about my believing the Joker is completely sane, even though he is not making behavioral choices that society approves of.) Why? Simply because it's more fun -- and the Joker is all about what is fun for himself.

Batman, on the other hand, is a bit more tricky to place -- I think of him as being Chaotic Good, but a good case could be argued for him being Chaotic Neutral or even True Neutral, with a hint of Lawful Good ocasionally. Commissioner Gordon is Lawful Good, but Harvey Dent is a bit more interesting -- he varies along the Lawful spectrum from Lawful Good to Lawful Evil in the film. I'm not positive about the exact characteristics of the alignments, since I'm not a gamer myself (I'm just friends with quite a few, so I've learned a few things by osmosis) but given the behavior range, I think Dent might be able to be classified as Lawful Neutral, if you take that whole range into account.

I also found the Paschal Lamb archetype being used for Batman to be very interesting -- the scape-goat upon whom the sins of the group can be placed and symbolicly purged by casting him out, and the sacrificial nature of that role. As someone raised Catholic, that was very resonant for me.

Post-film, most of us went to a nearby restaurant I had recommended, where we were met by an old friend I hadn't seen in quite a while and his now-grown daughter. We had a very nice meal, with folks sharing the dishes, so I had a chance to try a little bit of almost everything. We later walked around the neighborhood a bit and went someplace else for coffee and dessert, where I had pistachio gelato and port as well as bits of other desserts.

Since I'd managed to hurt my foot, due to new sandals breaking me in, instead of the other way round, I was treated to piggyback rides by some of the gentlemen present, as well as being carried in big strong arms, which I quite enjoyed. I think I might have to hurt my foot more often in future . . .
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: "Dark Angel" by VNV Nation
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(Eat a pomegranate)

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