Today I thought of something about The Joker that made me wonder…
About the roots of juvenile adulation.
You know, the kind of blind awe for a celebrity or sports figure that may possess you during your teen years. It is shamefully obsequious, this hard-on you have for a certain public figure. What is the basis for this fixation? What is it precisely about a virtual stranger that invites such blind devotion? You know nothing about the person other than his public persona. You have no idea how the person comports himself in real life once the cameras are turned off. All we can pin our fanatic commitment on is a publicly traded image, a commodity, cheaply sold and more cheaply bought. We are quite willing to embrace complete strangers and welcome them into our homes and lives. Without having any clue what kind of dinner guest, buddy, lover, they may turn out to be. We succumb to the illusion whole-heartedly. We invest obscene levels of our essence to these cultish inventions. Because ultimately, this what celebrities and athletes are…inventions. They are contrivances and the more susceptible among us (the young, the stupid, the delusional) are more than willing to prop up the invention and breathe enormous amounts of life into their house of cards.
How and why did I think of this?
I thought of public persona’s, of fictional persona’s, and I thought of how at various times in my life I strove to absorb a specific persona into my own, or at least behold its awe-inspiring splendor. I’ve been prone to adulate a public personage solely for his vibe. His manner, his style, his ability to attract (or repel). It occurred to me that much of this juvenile adulation contains inordinate amounts of admiration for personality and charm. I’ve not been exempt from this. As I’ve become older I still find myself enraptured by certain public persona’s and their inexplicable magnetism.
A caveat: I admire, I even behold, but I don’t adulate or worship.
If the persona is strong enough and presents a sufficiently appealing package, I may find that I model my behavior, and even appearance, after the person in question. I may literally find myself mimicking or paralleling the person’s mannerisms and body language. Not exactly down to the bone, but I may decide to pilfer several noteworthy traits and slyly integrate them into my own personality and it’s as if I’ve melded somewhat with this person. For instance, a few years ago, during a string of talk show appearances, I came to really like the way Bruce Willis carried himself. I loved his strut and chill but macho demeanor. He struck me as an unruffled, asshole-like masculine kinda guy. I began to emulate some of his behaviors and, in doing so, began to internalize behavioral traits consistent with this behavior. In essence, as you act, so you shall become. I sought to become Bruce Willis. I kid you not. This is not braggadocio…it’s just simple fact. Is my adoration of Goddamned Bruce Willis something I need to be bragging about on this “public” forum? The point is, we fixate on that which we secretly yearn to be ourselves. Or we wouldn’t choose it, would we? There are no accidents in who we choose to esteem and I suppose you can tell a lot about a person’s self-estimation by the nature of those they adulate.
Now me, I was thinking earlier of how I have always had a thing for the Joker. The mythical Joker, infamous and illustrious, of Batman fame.
I see two Jokers: the pop culture character, and the persona.
The original comic book character, as Batman has entered the parlance of modern day cinema, has been played most recently by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger who both gave the character a whirl. They played the part well, for the Joker character is viciously inviting and may have been the perfect fit for these actors. Unfortunately we’ll never know how much further Ledger could have taken the role. But beyond these two interpretations of the Joker character, I believe the Joker offers a “package” of traits which I have always been magnetically drawn to.
The Joker persona is a timeless conglomeration of romanticized character traits…the tragic buffoon with a heart of malice. How fucking awesome is that?
The Joker is the woeful clown. He is the man who laughs at the world while his soul’s painful gnawing threatens to burrow and eat its way out of his chest, pummeling through his heart in a mad attempt to flee into the slimy guts of the world. The Joker is that man we know. Pilloried by the tacit unfairness of life, he shrugs and smirks and mocks a society he can’t belong to. Rather than bowing meekly and sacrificing his soul to the capricious whims of a world which won’t humor his pain, he lashes out from the infirmity and glibness of his helpless existence. For despite his mockery and aggressive buffoonery and scornful ridicule, the dark heart of a beast beats persistently.
Upon meeting the Joker, one may conclude that he’s a jovial, boastful character lacking in refinements or pretty social graces. Content to let a clown remain a clown, he is disregarded, but those who remain acquaintances with the Joker for extended periods of time know that this man is only a clown in the most superficial sense of the word. Deeply muted below the frolicking facade is a fury and resentment which won’t be extinguished. The Joker’s clownishness is his defense and his offense. Beneath the obscene grin and voracious levity simmers a malicious beast.
The Joker is the one I adulate, the one with whom I share a kinship. The Joker is my beast of burden.
Am I as evil as the Joker. Does my darkness destroy all sense of decency and goodwill? Or is my darkness merely the void of light, resting quietly in its lonely brooding pen while refraining from laying waste to the surrounding fields of humanity?
I spring into the room, all smiles, humor abounds; a brilliant glow seems to emanate from the rapid thump of my heart. I greet with smiles, I embrace the world. But those who step close, those who fearsomely enter the barren wilderness of my soul, glimpse the darkness of the Joker’s spiritual wasteland.
Have I become the Joker?
Or has the Joker become me?