no joke

We took some of the teens to see The Dark Knight yesterday. Good movie, though very dark and upsetting. Today I saw this in an insightful review on HollywoodJesus.com:

Maintaining continuity with the conclusion of Batman Begins, Batman's war on crime is intended to inspire ordinary people to combat injustice and evil, but he has equally and inadvertently inspired the criminal element. The Joker is Batman's fault in the sense that the Dark Knight made the criminal "community" desperate enough to follow a maniac. The Joker goes from being a maniac without motive to one whose life now has a greater purpose, confessing to Batman that without the Dark Knight, criminal activity is ordinary and petty. "What would I do without you?" he laments.

...Batman has always revolved around the theme of maintaining dual realities. [Though Bruce Wayne is the actual identity of Batman,] Bruce Wayne is the façade and Batman is the truer representation of who this person really is.

[I remember a scene from Batman Begins. Bruce Wayne's childhood sweetheart was beginning to hope again for their relationship...
"But then you put on the mask."
"The mask is only a symbol. Underneath..."
She reaches up and touches his face. "This is the mask. Underneath is what the criminals fear."]
The theme of dual realities even spills over into other characters in the film. One could argue that the only character not wrestling with dual realities is the Joker. We want there to be some psychological determinant—a back story that explains the Joker to us. But there isn't one. The Joker has no hidden agenda. He is no hypocrite. The Joker sees his role more as being the one to expose the discrepancy between internal reality and external façade in the other characters.
Including the rest of the people in society. A memorable sermon by the Joker:
Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don't have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am, Harvey? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do if I caught one. I just do things. I'm a wrench in the gears. I hate plans. Yours, theirs, everyone's. [The mayor] has plans. [The police chief] has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are...

It's a schemer who put you where you are [in the hospital, disfigured, having lost his fiancée]. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best—I took your plan and turned it on itself...

Nobody panics when the expected people get killed. Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even if the plans are horrifying. If I tell the press that tomorrow a gangbanger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will get blown up, nobody panics. But when I say one little old mayor will die, everyone loses their minds!

And to Batman, Joker says:
Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak. Like me! They need you right now. But when they don't, they'll cast you out.

See, their morals... their code... is a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. They'll show ya. When the chips are down, these civilized people... they'll eat each other.

See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.