I really need to quit Facebook. I'm convinced that checking Facebook is worse than smoking a carton of cigarettes a day, because I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be dead by age 35 from an anger-induced aneurysm caused by dipshits spouting nonsense on the Internet 24/7. This week's stupidity is courtesy of Jeff Rouner of the Houston Press, who wrote a thesis about how the Joker is the real hero of "The Dark Knight". This wouldn't normally be a problem if the world collectively stood back, analyzed the points carefully and realized how absurd the post is and moved on. But instead, I saw too many morons sharing Rouner's article with statements like "Wow, I never thought about it like that before".
You probably never thought of it because the idea in of itself is stupid. The Joker is not the hero of "The Dark Knight", and anyone who thinks so is an idiot. To come to such a conclusion, one would have to completely dismiss and ignore various scenes, quotes, and plot points throughout the movie. Nevertheless, we're not going to get anywhere if I simply bitch about how stupid other people are, so I am going to take it upon myself to dismantle this bullshit theory point-by-point. The overarching argument here is that the Joker killed more mobsters and eliminated more crime than Batman, so therefor he's the hero. Except that this argument ignores a few key points:
1) Batman doesn't kill people.
2) Batman's presences in Gotham City prevents crime, because criminals are scared shitless.
3) Batman works with James Gordon, which often leads to the police capturing criminals as opposed to Batman.
4) Batman's mission throughout the movie is to transition out of crime fighting, and letting Harvey Dent and the GPD do their job.
5) Batman's virtue is justice. Joker's virtue is chaos.
Before I continue, I need to extrapolate the last point, because it's crucial. Christopher Nolan only made an entire fucking movie before "The Dark Knight" to detail how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman, which displays years of character development and emphasis on what Batman's mission is. Remember when Bruce Wayne tried to kill Joe Chill, and Rachel Dawes scolding him in the car afterward, explaining that justice and vengeance aren't the same thing? This is what we call a turning point. Wayne then confronts the head mafia boss (Carmine Falcone), who flaunts his power by pointing out the bought judges and policeman in the room before tossing Wayne back onto the streets like a bag of trash. This moment infuriates Wayne, motivating him to leave Gotham immediately to dedicate his life to justice, starting with reestablishing order in Gotham City where the justice system is corrupt, and thus the idea of justice is becoming nonexistent.
Every move Batman makes is an attempt to serve justice and establish order.
The Joker's virtue is chaos. The Joker wants anarchy. He wants the people of Gotham to fear each other, hate each other, and kill each other. "Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos." Whether or not a few good deeds are accomplished along the way (such as eliminating a few mobsters and thugs) is irrelevant, because the Joker's end goal is evil. To credit Joker as a hero simply because he helped destroy organized crime is like glorifying the Soviet Union for killing Nazis during World War II. Sure, Stalin helped destroy an evil regime, but Stalin's goal was ultimately to expand his own evil empire. Eliminating organized crime was necessary to achieve anarchy, because before Batman and the Joker, the mafia - While evil and corrupt - established some sort of order in Gotham with its manipulation of the justice system. The intention is what matters. It's the same reason why I wouldn't go to jail for murder if I inadvertently killed someone in a car accident, and why others go to jail for attempted murder even if they don't ultimately kill their targets.
Let's address the points that Rouner makes in his post.
"The thing is, he [Joker] doesn't pull a crime. He stages an elaborate bout of vigilante justice worthy of Batman himself. Not only does The Joker rob the bank, he does so in a way in which all his criminal accomplices murder each other one by one thinking that they'll get a bigger cut if they do."
First of all, theft and murder are still crimes, dumbass. Second, did you completely forget the scene where the Joker taunts Batman about the one rule he won't break? Yeah, that one rule is killing. Therefore, this point is stupid, because Batman would never orchestrate a plot to steal millions from a mob bank that involved people killing each other. This point also ignores the fact that the heist ruined an investigation that Batman and Gordon were operating with marked bills, which bought the mafia more time.
"In fact, for the whole movie his target is mostly the same mob that Batman has apparently been unable to really stop since Batman Begins."
Man, you really enjoy taking plot points out of context. Sure Batman, didn't "stop" organized crime in Gotham, but it's obvious that the gangs and mafia fear the unholy fuck out of Batman. This is clearly illustrated early on in the movie, when criminals are running scared upon seeing the Bat Signal in the sky, and where the Joker confronts all the gangs in Gotham and mocks them for having their "group therapy sessions during the day". The Joker also explains how Dent is just the beginning of their problems, foreshadowing a Gotham City where police are stronger and less corrupt.
Further, this ignores the fact that Batman's goal is to transition out of fighting crime, allowing Harvey Dent and the Gotham Police to enforce the law. This is explained when Dawes confronts Wayne at his fundraiser for Dent, when Batman confronts Dent after Gordon's staged assassination, and in the end when Batman talks to Gordon after taking out Two Face. In order to restore faith in the justice system, Batman needs to let Dent and Gordon clean up Gotham. Batman can't be the symbol of hope and justice. Wayne doesn't believe that vigilante justice is a permanent fix, a point also made clear in the first Batman-scene in the movie where he tells the fake Batmans to stop doing what they're doing.
Dent and Dawes are busting skulls, the police department is more efficient, and the mobsters are scared shitless. Meaning that Batman's role is diminishing (by intention) in Gotham City. That is until the Joker starts causing a ruckus. But hey, the Joker is the real hero because his desire for anarchy resulted in a few monsters dying.
"And if the system is so broken that it requires a man like Batman to dispense justice then why is it worth preserving in the first place?"
Because Wayne believes that the people of Gotham are good people, and deserve a better justice system than what they have. This is evident with the election of Harvey Dent, who fearlessly challenges the mob and cleans up Gotham on unprecedented levels. It's also evident at the end of the movie, when the civilians and prisoners of Gotham decide to not blow up each other's boat. For real, the fact that I have to spell this out for you idiots is ridiculous.
"Then again, that's not how The Joker says he sees it. He tells Batman that he turned Dent into "one of us". What does Dent do when he becomes Two-Face? He goes on a rampage that leaves mob bosses and crooked cops dead in his wake. It's only when Dent is threatening to kill innocents that things become a problem."
Did you hit stop on your Blu-Ray player in the middle of the Joker's final exchange with Batman and then decide to write this rubbish? Joker didn't change Dent in hopes that he would kill a few mobsters and corrupt cops as part of a plan to enforce justice, he did it so that the people of Gotham would see what a monster Dent is and lose complete faith in the justice system. "You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for Gotham's soul in a fistfight with you? You need an ace in the hole, and mine's Harvey." I honestly don't know how Nolan could have emphasized this better. The entire movie is a battle over Harvey Dent, because Dent represents Gotham's soul. Let's also not forget that killing mob bosses doesn't necessarily eliminate crime. As we can see in the movie, the mafia is still operating despite the absence of Carmine Falcone.
"Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight is an agent of chaos. He says as much, but what does that mean? For him "organized crime" is the problem."
Yes, organized crime is all that concerns the Joker. That's why he kills Rachel Dawes, kills Judge Surillo, kills Commissioner Loeb, kills one of the fake Batman guys, puts a bounty on Coleman Reese, blows up a hospital, holds two boat loads (literally boat loads) of people hostage, orchestrates an ambush on a SWAT team designed to kill doctors and law enforcement, and ruins Harvey Dent's life in attempt to break Gotham's spirit.
"In the end over the course of The Dark Knight The Joker does more to eliminate crime and corruption in Gotham than Batman ever comes close to. He does it in a horrific way, but that's what you get when you almost kill a man like him. He's Darkman. He's The Bride. Heath Ledger's Joker is the real Dark Knight."
Yeah, I guess the handful of mobsters the Joker killed completely makes up for everything I mentioned in the last counterpoint. Don't forget that Dawes, Surillo, and Loeb all played crucial roles in fighting crime in Gotham City. The handful of mobsters also makes up for the fear he instilled into the people of Gotham, and turning the District Attorney into a murdering psychopath. It also completely outweighs Batman flying across the planet to capture Lau so that Dent could convict hundreds mobsters in a RICO Case, crippling the mafia and scaring away various gangs, and taking the fall for Harvey Dent in order to preserve hope in Gotham City.
Let's imagine "The Dark Knight" without the Joker. Take into account that Gordon and Batman were already targeting mob banks with marked bills (an investigation that fell apart because of the Joker's heist), and that Wayne had the jump on Lau with Lucius Fox looking into his business tactics. Does Batman still find Lau, and put countless criminals behind bars? Yes. Rachel Dawes doesn't die and Dent's face never gets melted, meaning that Dent continues his career as a virtuous District Attorney who puts criminals behind bars as opposed to going on a killing rampage. And as we saw in "The Dark Knight Rises", Batman still would have been around if shit were to really hit the fan, and Wayne probably wouldn't have evolved into a recluse (which had an adverse effect on Gotham's economy). In other words, Gotham would have been much better off had the Joker never existed.
For the record, I actually love and appreciate fan theories. I love when people overanalyze fiction and apply underlying meanings that I might have missed, or unintentional metaphors behind characters and stories. Some of my favorites include the popular "Rugrats" theory where the babies are all figments of Angelica's imagination, and how the toons in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" are a metaphor for blacks in America during the early twentieth century. I remember reading one about "The Dark Knight", and about how the Joker is presented to the audience the same way Batman is presented to the mafia. But the idea that the Joker is the real hero of "The Dark Knight" is fucking absurd, especially given that Nolan practically explains shit to a fault with his movies.