NewsThu Aug 14, 2008 - 12:15 pm EST
Batman The Dark Knight - Should We Fear Imitation of the Joker?
August 14, 2008, (LifeSiteNews.com) – I finally saw the movie which has grossed $400 million in its first 18 days - well on its way to overtaking Titanic as box-office champ. The movie was visually and viscerally stunning but deeply disturbing, even diabolic.
My concerns were confirmed when LifeSiteNews.com co-founder Steve Jalsevac told me he had also just seen the film and shared my unease.
Some have pointed to the extreme violence in the film, but my concerns go well beyond that. In a Canwest News Service review Jay Stone refers to Joker as a “psychotic butcher”; Jenny McCarthy in her August 2 review in the London Telegraph wrote, “The greatest surprise of all - even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic - has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.” One reviewer even called the film “torture porn.”
The story’s focus is the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger of Brokeback Mountain fame. The Joker is portrayed as a man engaging in a purity of evil rarely seen. An anti-Christ type figure, he engages in evil for evil’s sake and not for any material motive, and is totally unconcerned about his own well-being.
So youth seeing the film will see the evil of the Joker, be repulsed by it and turn away from it, right? Wrong.
There are two supermen in this film - Batman and the Joker.
One problem, however, is that while Batman is a somewhat distant figure - a multi-billionaire whose money is largely the source of his being a superhero - the common man can relate more to the Joker who is a man dealing, in his own intensely cruel way, with a rough past.
In one scene the Joker describes the way he got his ‘smile’ - the two obvious scars which run up from both corners of his mouth. He describes domestic violence in his home where his father attacked his mother and then turned on him as a child, saying, “Why so serious? Let’s put a smile on that face,” and carved one in. As sick and scary as that scenario is, it is nevertheless one with which a great many of today’s youth - deeply scarred internally - will easily identify as they too have been subjected to domestic violence.
And if that’s not enough, Joker changes the scenario half-way through the film. He explains that his ‘smile’ is the result of an incident stemming from a disagreement with his wife who would thereafter have nothing to do with him. Hence, Joker’s psychosis is portrayed as being a response to the all-too-common experience of domestic turbulence, whether involving one’s parents or one’s spouse.
The Joker and Batman are both presented as virtually invincible; indeed, if anything, the Joker is presented as being more powerful in many respects. He is completely unrestricted in terms of his actions, while the film clearly portrays Batman as hampered by his conscience. Batman The Dark Knight could easily be seen to portray good as a weakness which is used and repeatedly exploited by evil - the Joker. The corruption of the good in people is one of his main aims - it is in fact the only purpose which can be discerned in the Joker’s otherwise completely chaotic acts.
But for all the power of this anti-Christ portrayal, there is no portrayal of an equally pure Christ figure. An heroic man in public power, one of the main characters, is eventually corrupted by the Joker’s devices, and the only two good guys left - Commissioner Gordon and Batman himself - are themselves corrupted in that they must foster and live with a lie to maintain the illusion that the one who thoroughly succumbed to evil was actually the hero of the day.
Batman, meant to be the hero of the film, is far less morally consistent in his pursuits than is the Joker. As Bruce Wayne the billionaire, he is portrayed as a jealous, spiteful ex-lover, insulting his rival and using other women (even three at a time) to inspire jealousy in his ex-lover. The portrayal of Batman is weak and conflicted compared to that of the Joker. The Joker’s character dominates the screen and the brilliance of Ledger’s performance in this role serves to highlight this difference.
It should also be noted that many have pointed to Ledger’s Joker role as possibly having a role in the 28-year-old’s death by an overdose of drugs including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication shortly after filming of the movie was completed.
The suspicions are not unfounded as his final interviews indicate Ledger was very troubled during and after the filming. A New York Times interview which took place during the filming noted that Ledger’s Joker role was “physically and mentally draining”. Ledger described the Joker as a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy”. He also revealed he was having trouble sleeping and the reporter noted his bizarre restless behaviour.
Reported the New York Times:
“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.
Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. (see the full Times interview)
A video interview, which took place just after the filming finished and is billed as one of the last interviews before Ledger’s death, visually demonstrates that bizarre restlessness.
Are there going to be imitators of the Joker portrayed in The Dark Knight? There already are. Just look on YouTube for the number of videos where teens are dressing up as and imitating the lines of the Joker. Even more seriously, however, there have been crimes committed since the film’s release where the criminals have dressed in Joker makeup.
The film would likely not be dangerous for those well-grounded in morality; but for the many in today’s world who have not received the moral training that would allow them to clearly distinguish between good and evil, Joker character and philosophy of “anything goes” presents an all-too-appealing alternative way of attaining power and recognition.
Seeing the film only a few days after the very disturbing and unexplainable beheading of a passenger on a Canadian bus, I could not help wonder if the perpetrator had seen the Batman film. The description of the killing and decapitation as having been carried out in a calm manner, entirely without emotion, and the killer taking the head of the man and glibly showing it to horrified witnesses, seemed to fit with the Joker’s character. Media screen shots of the film showing the Joker holding up his “calling card” (a Joker playing card with a decapitated head dripping blood) added powerfully to the association.
Superheroes in films normally generate imitation. Joker is every bit a superhero in The Dark Knight - but a super-evil one.
If your children have seen the film, talk to them about it. If they have not yet seen it I would tactfully discourage it.
For a parental review of the film see Screenit’s very detailed information (the Internet’s most useful movie information website for those concerned about ethical content)
See other reviews noted above here:
“This is a movie that turns its heroes into villains and its villains into immortals. It’s a haunting mess.” A ‘psychotic butcher’
Torture Porn Aimed At The Kids by Jenny McCartney National Post, August 2, 2008
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Pope’s exhortation is a ‘breach’ with Catholic Tradition: leading German philosopher
April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A prominent Catholic philosopher and close friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said Thursday that Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia is a “breach” with Catholic tradition and directly contradicts the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II in his exhortation Familiaris Consortio.
"If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order."
Professor Robert Spaemann told the Catholic News Agency’s German branch that changing the Church’s sacramental practice would be “a breach with its essential anthropological and theological teaching on human marriage and sexuality.”
“It is clear to every thinking person who knows the texts that are important in this context that [with Amoris Laetitia] there is a breach” with the Church’s Tradition, Spaemann said.
The professor’s remarks were translated by Dr. Maike Hickson in an article at OnePeterFive.
In Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II upheld the Church’s longstanding approach to the question of admitting to the Sacraments remarried divorcees, by writing:
…the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.
Footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia seemingly contradicts the above passage by asserting that in certain cases, integrating back into the Church the divorced and remarried and others in “irregular” situations “can include the help of the sacraments.” The footnote then mentions both Confession and the Eucharist.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Maria Santissima in Astana, Kazakhstan criticized Amoris Laetitia for its lack of clarity on the subject. “Analyzing some of the affirmations of AL with an honest understanding, as they are in their own context, one finds that there is a difficulty in interpreting them according to the traditional doctrine of the Church,” wrote Schneider.
Spaemann also condemned the exhortation’s seeming embrace of “situation ethics” as opposed to universal norms and its call to not judge people’s actions that directly contradict the Church’s sexual ethics.
“When it comes to sexual relations which are in objective contradiction to the Christian order of life, I would like to know from the pope after which time period and under which conditions such an objectively sinful behavior becomes a conduct which is pleasing to God,” said Spaemann.
By turning “chaos into principle” with “one stroke of a pen,” Pope Francis is leading the Church “into the direction of schism,” Spaemann said—and he warned that such a schism would not be “at the periphery, but in the middle of the Church.”
Spaemann also warned that Amoris Laetitia may be used to bully faithful priests. He wrote:
Each individual cardinal, as well as each bishop and each priest is now called to preserve in his field of authority the Catholic Sacramental Order and to confess it publicly. If the pope is not willing to make a correction, it is up to another pontificate to officially put things back into order.
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Federally funded community health center may have illegally performed abortions: Report
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A federally qualified health center (FQHC) apparently performed abortions, although nearly all federal funds are forbidden from being used for that purpose, sources tell LifeSiteNews. Now, pro-life congressmen are demanding further investigations into the use of U.S. taxpayer funds to promote abortion-on-demand.
The issue came to light when a federal inspector general's report found that six Americorps volunteers had been acting as "abortion doulas," giving emotional support to women who chose to have abortions.
The National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) allowed the volunteers – who received tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars – to support abortions that took place inside a New York abortion facility run by the Institute for Family Health (IFH).
Americorps “volunteers” illegally supporting abortion at taxpayer expense is an ongoing problem. But there's more to the story.
The IFH proudly advertises itself as a federally qualified health center (FQHC). Federal dollars are restricted from underwriting most abortion at FQHCs, in line with the Hyde Amendment. This does not hold true for the Affordable Care Act, conventionally known as ObamaCare.
To ease qualms raised by pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak and others, on March 24, 2010, Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13535. It states that “the Hyde [Amendment] language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers...I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law.”
Pro-life groups warned at the time that an executive order was insufficient to prevent taxpayer funding of abortion, and the law itself had to be amended – or defeated.
Pro-life experts today say Congress must investigate whether the law is being violated and, if so, if the offense is isolated to IFH.
"For years the Obama administration has claimed that the Affordable Care Act and federally-funded health centers do not subsidize abortion, and the president finally signed additional provisions, passed last year by Congress, to ensure that community health centers do not use federal funds to support abortion,” said Arina Grossu, the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council. “Now we learn that CNCS is violating the law by helping women obtain abortions.”
“This blatant violation of federal law by CNCS and AmeriCorps demands that Congress investigate government-funded community health centers,” Grossu said. “It's time for this administration to stop foisting its radical abortion agenda on the American people and using their tax dollars to do so.”
Pro-life advocates have long said that there is no need to fund Planned Parenthood, because federal women's health dollars could be reappropriated to FQHCs, which do not perform abortion.
There are 9,170 federally qualified health centers compared to about 700 Planned Parenthood facilities, according to the Charlotte Lozier Institute. FQHCs see 21.1 million patients a year, while Planned Parenthood saw 2.8 million people, the institute reported.
The latest example of federal dollars being channeled to support abortion, the law notwithstanding, has undermined some confidence in the FQHCs.
Rep. Diane Black, a pro-life Republican from Tennessee, said, “NACHC didn’t just break the rules; they broke trust with the American people. My constituents expect that federal funding given to our community health centers will be used to protect and enhance people’s lives, not to be a willing partner in their destruction.”
At least two Congressional leaders – the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the chair of the House Health Subcommittee – have promised they will take action immediately.
“Federal law demands that taxpayer dollars are never to be spent on abortion activities. Not one penny. Period. But a disturbing report from an independent watchdog reveals that was not the case with brazen pursuits by the National Association of Community Health Centers,” said Congressmen Fred Upton and Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, both Republicans. “The law was violated and this shameful failure of trust will not be tolerated.”
Abortion lobbyists demand Ted Cruz renounce pro-life leader Troy Newman
WICHITA, Kansas, April 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The nation's largest abortion providers, an abortion lobbying group, and an ultra-liberal political organization are demanding that Senator Ted Cruz cut ties with Operation Rescue President Troy Newman – something that only proves how effective he has been, Newman's organization says.
Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and People for the American Way are asking Cruz to fire Newman as national co-chair of the “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition, claiming that Newman supports violence.
“Troy Newman’s history of violent rhetoric and harassment toward women’s health providers is truly beyond the pale,” the three say in a letter to Sen. Cruz, linking to quotations from his 2000 book, Their Blood Cries Out.
“What Planned Parenthood and their cohorts call 'violent rhetoric' is really a discussion of Old Testament Bible verses taken out of context,” said Cheryl Sullenger of Operation Rescue and co-author of the book Their Blood Cries Out. The work establishes the sinful guilt of abortion before highlighting the mercy available in the New Testament for those who accept Jesus Christ, Sullenger said.
The letter also cites a report from the National Abortion Federation stating that abortionists have experienced an increase in “hate speech and internet harassment” since the release of CMP's undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, “which Newman was a driving force behind.”
“What they call 'harassment' is peaceful activism that is completely protected by the First Amendment,” Sullenger responded.
Newman has consistently denounced criminal action and violence of any kind during his decades in the pro-life movement, Operation Rescue said of the allegations – many of which were circulated to prevent Newman from entering Australia last year.
“Newman’s position on abortion-related violence is clear. He denounces violence against abortion providers as well as the violence perpetrated by the abortion cartel against innocent babies in the womb and their mothers,” Sullenger said.
“Attacking the messenger is the only way they have to try to discredit the hefty volume of evidence against them. This most recent attack is all about manipulating the public’s perception against those who exposed Planned Parenthood in order to deflect attention from their own crimes.”
But the three groups poured vitriolic scorn on Newman. Michael Keegan, president of People for the American Way, called Newman's role “completely unacceptable...No politician should be allowed to pander to violent anti-choice extremists without being called out.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue said, "Troy Newman is an anti-choice extremist and misogynist ideologue.”
A Planned Parenthood executive said the choice proved Sen. Cruz and his vice presidential choice, Carly Fiorina, are unfit for office.
“It is not surprising to see Ted Cruz embrace this type of violent extremism -- after all this is the same man who has told malicious lies about Planned Parenthood, would criminalize abortion, and tried to shut down the government” to defund Planned Parenthood, said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This is what the Cruz-Fiorina ticket stands for."
Sullenger dismissed their rhetoric as “a feeble attempt to hurt the presidential candidacy of Sen. Ted Cruz, who they know will seek to enforce the laws against them.”
Cruz has repeatedly stated that, if he is elected president, he will defund Planned Parenthood – before prosecuting them.
Their letter has led to a number of articles in the mainstream media, including Politico, the Huffington Post, and Glamour. The last publication, a feminist magazine aimed at young women, slammed Ted Cruz's choice of Carly Fiorina for vice president, telling its readers to “hold on to your uterus.”
“Not one of these publications bothered to reach out to Newman or Operation Rescue’s staff for their response,” Sullenger said.
This morning and afternoon, both sides of the abortion debate have used the Twitter hashtag #FireTroy to get their message across.
Sen. Cruz has not responded to the call, but the letter implies that purging Newman from the campaign would not satisfy the pro-abortion coalition. “There are a number of coalition members whose records raise serious concerns,” they say.