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Batman The Dark Knight - Should We Fear Imitation of the Joker?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

August 14, 2008, ( – 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 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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Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

EWTN’s ‘honest analysis’ of Synod: Media confined to covering press conferences, Vatican spokesmen like Fr. Rosica

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac


Robert Royal: “Everyone seems to be very much on edge. There is a high degree of anxiety.”

ROME, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The October 8 EWTN World Over program led by Raymond Arroyo, who was joined by canon lawyer and New York pastor Fr. Gerald Murray, as well as Robert Royal, editor of the, presented a surprisingly “honest analysis” of the tumultuous first week of the Synod on the Family.

Arroyo and his two guests expressed many concerns about the Synod process and what took place during the first week. They notably commented at length on the statements about homosexuals by Fr. Thomas Rosica that they said “seemed to come out of nowhere” and which were not mentioned by the other language Vatican press office reporters as having been discussed by the bishops.

The program began with a video clip of Cardinal Pell’s statements before the start of the Synod, during which he expressed concerns about the Synod process that he and other Synod fathers held.

"What is important to us is that both sides are represented equally on committees, and what is published in reports,” he said. “It's a disservice to the church and a disservice to the work of the Synod if in any sense the reporting is skewed.”

Arroyo emphasized that the Synod “is merely an advisory meeting of the bishops. It is in no way binding on the pope” and therefore it is uncertain what impact all the discussions will have on the final outcome, to be determined solely by Francis.

Also shown was a clip of Archbishop Chaput stating his concern last Wednesday about “the English translation” of Synod documents, “which in some ways doesn't match the Italian which is the official version.” This addressed a deep concern among the bishops about whether they were being provided with accurate translations of what was being said during the speeches at the Synod.

Chaput said that “the language is a big issue.”

Arroyo asked his guests, “How reliable are the translations?”

Robert Royal, from his observations and discussions in Vatican City, replied,

“This nervousness about the language reflects the general nervousness here in Rome and not only the traditional Catholics in the room, but also by the progressives. Everyone seems to be very much on edge. There is a high degree of anxiety it seems to me about what exactly are the processes, the procedures that are being followed in the Synod and also the content, of course.”

Father Murray’s response was that,

“There's always the danger, that the Church in addressing a topic will engage in sociology, rather than theology. In other words describe how people are living and then try and say this is how it fits with the Christian life. Really a Synod has to be the extension of a theological reflection that the Church takes to the Gospel and her defined doctrines. That means, the life situation of the people is judged by the gospel and not the other way around. And that's where the concern is of archbishops and others about the working document.”

He continued, “The word of God must train us and guide us and prepare us to change how we live” as opposed to the expressions of the more “progressive” bishops suggesting that instead it is the Church that should change.

Arroyo observed that “the pope took to the floor” early on, “to calm the fathers” about marriage and vouched for the method and process of the Synod that many are concerned about – a move that Royal said was “extraordinary.”

The EWTN program then plunged into the comments on homosexuality that were introduced and emphasized by Vatican English correspondent, Fr. Thomas Rosica.

It was not mentioned that Fr. Rosica is well-known to favor a liberalization of Church teaching and practice related to homosexuality, especially given his effusive praise for heretical Canadian former priest and Vatican II advisor, Gregory Baum. Baum has been perhaps the leading Catholic in Canada to advocate for acceptance, among many other things, not only of homosexuality itself, but also for acceptance of active homosexual clergy.

Appearing to exercise prudent restraint, Father Murray responded, “there is a concern that all the discussion about homosexuality as it relates to marriage and the family is not being adequately treated in the way it's being reported.” That seemed to be directed to the shocking statements by Fr. Rosica about what the Synod Fathers are alleged to have discussed.

“How will we know if that's the case,” mused Fr. Murray. “Fortunately,” he continued, “the Synod fathers were told that they will have free access to the press, but I would be much happier if we return to earlier Synodal practice where everything was made public so the faithful can follow the discussion.”

Robert Royal expressed concern that “there are 10 people who are going to write the final report,” and among these 10 are Cardinal Baldisseri, who was the chief organizer of last year’s scandalous synod and Archbishop Forte, “who is the author of the notorious midterm report last year.” The difficulty not mentioned is that, despite the obvious unsuitability of Baldisseri and Forte, the bishops who will be writing the report have all been selected by Pope Francis.

Royal also noted that “the way the Synod is set it favors the discussion about a topic that is really closed – communion for the divorced and remarried is not an open question.” However, Fr. Murray expressed concern that "process is overcoming product," and the fact that the discussion is happening at all “is leading some people to say, ‘I guess the Church doesn't really mean what it used to say.’”

“How to pastorally engage homosexuals and modifying the language used when describing them” was brought up by only couple of bishops in the Synod, said Royal.

Arroyo then showed a video of Fr. Thomas Rosica, the official English translator for the Vatican press office, making his authoritative-sounding comments that gave an impression that the issue of homosexuality was one that was widely being discussed among the bishops. The EWTN team seemed alarmed over this evidence that a mere Vatican translator and reporter was permitted to strongly advocate to the world, as though he were a Synod father, for changes that violated Church moral teachings.

Arroyo then asked a very pointed question to his guests, “Gentleman how big concern is this for the bishops gathered in Rome or is it, as some reporters have suggested, possibly a Vatican reporter (Fr. Rosica) exaggerating the concerns for whatever reason.”

Robert Royal responded that Fr. Rosica’s dissertation,

“took people by surprise because it seemed to come out of nowhere. None of the other language reporters mentioned the sensitivity language for homosexuals. The difficulty is, we are all trying to read, as father Murray was saying, since we have no access to what really happens inside the Synod, we have to rely on what we hear from the official spokesman, also from bits and pieces here and there. That seemed to be very odd. Some other reporters have asked Fr. Lombardi, “who is the main spokesman for the Holy See press office? Don't you have some statistics how often the subjects have been brought up. He claims not to have them.”

“What we learned after, just by a stray remark that Archbishop Chaput made… is that language about ‘gays’ had only come up about once or twice at that point. This seems to be something that certain elements within the Vatican are pressing forward immediately and we know that, from our experience in the United States, where there is a great deal of sensitivity and there is this heightened sense of being offended by language, no amount of softened language is ever going to satisfy people whose basic objection is that the Catholic Church regards homosexuality to be, per se, as intrinsically disordered as the Catechism says…Even that phrase is going to be coming up for reconfiguration. I don't see that is going to have very much success or it's going to satisfy anyone who is not already a serious Catholic.”

Arroyo mentioned his general dissatisfaction about the synod arrangements stating,

“Only this morning I tweeted out that journalists are not really covering the Synod. They're covering a press conference about the Synod. This control of information flow, frankly, I don't find it helpful, we don't know who is saying what, and there are many expressions that are being suppressed and ignored.”

Father Gerry was asked for his impression.

The canon lawyer responded, 

“You're right.  Obviously, this process did not occur at past Synods, and now it's going to be up to the Cardinals to go to press conferences outside of the Vatican and say what really happened. That's not really helpful. In fact this is supposed to be all about the culture of encounter and the faithful should have an opportunity to hear what their pastors say and discuss it among themselves, rather than just reporters talking about what reporters are saying.”

Fr. Gerry continued that Canadian “Archbishop Durocher floated the idea of women deacons and said perhaps it is time to permit laymen and women to preach homilies. Doesn’t it risk using up Synod time to allow a hodgepodge of bishops’ pet projects?”

Robert Royal suggested all these concerns of the West are not the concerns of the rest of the world.

Arroyo related he had a sense that,

“The Synod seems to be a large act of grand international theater without any real finale. The finale will come afterwards when the pope writes whatever document he writes and changes pastoral changes to accommodate the challenges that he sees facing the family today.”

Fr. Murray warned, “Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions are offensive and dangerous. Catholic doctrine must be defended vigorously, otherwise many souls will be imperiled by false teaching.”

Robert Royal concluded, saying,

“the main thing that we should be doing is affirming the family because that is what makes life as good as it can be. It helps form people. It transmits the faith from one generation to the next. That should be the focus. For the time being it looks like the family is being edged out by some of these peripheral issues.”

See also Robert Royal’s October 12 article, The Devil in the Details, about the confusion and uncertainties of Vatican Press Secretary, Fr. Lombardi, regarding the Synod.

See also Battle of the Catholic Stations: Salt and Light’s Fr. Rosica Rips EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo over Kennedy

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Fr. Mark Hodges

Methodist, Episcopalian clergy ‘bless’ Cleveland abortion clinic in prayer service

Fr. Mark Hodges
By Fr. Mark Hodges

CLEVELAND, OH, October 12, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- More than a dozen religious leaders from a variety of denominations gathered last week to support abortion and "bless" a Cleveland abortion facility.

The "blessing" of the Preterm facility was initiated and coordinated by Rev. Laura Young, a Methodist priestess and the executive director of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s (RCRC) Ohio chapter.  

"Bless this building,” prayed Rev. Tracey Lind, Dean of Cleveland's Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, at the abortion facility. “May its walls stand strong against the onslaught of shame thrown at it. May it be a beacon of hope for those who need its services."

RCRC is based in Washington, D.C. Its national president, Rev. Harry Knox, participated in the Cleveland demonstration as well, and told the Columbus Dispatch, “I’m here today standing alongside my fellow clergymen and clergywomen to say, thank God for abortion providers.”  

Knox is a "married" homosexual who has also spearheaded same-sex “marriage” efforts in Georgia and Florida.

The group held signs that said to be pro-abortion is to be "pro-family" and "pro-faith."  Other signs read, "Good women have abortions."


From Today's prayer service at Preterm Cleveland Ohio. Religious people gathered to bless that space of sacred decision making. #GodBlessTheClinics

Posted by Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice on Thursday, October 8, 2015

One demonstration participant, Molly Marvar, had positive things to say about her abortion at the Cleveland Preterm clinic, calling her abortion a great, caring experience, and a privilege. “It was a defining moment for me," she said.  "It’s really important to me that I speak up about my abortion to help other women.”

“There is a reverence for life that happens in this clinic,” Marvar told Think Progress.  “And the decision to get an abortion is often a really, really, spiritual decision.”

In an interview with Think Progress, Young explained that she believes God supports abortion.

"Women who have had abortions are being attacked at a religious level, and the faith community has a moral obligation to heal these spiritual wounds,” she said.

Young, a self-described "progressive theological thinker and a feminist," said if her demonstration and "blessing" is successful, her group will bless other state clinics as well.  She recently testified against a pro-life bill in the Ohio senate, along with Unitarian, Universalist, United Church of Christ and Episcopalian clergy.

Young also recently led the invocation for the Ohio House of Representatives. She was assigned to lead Ohio's RCRC by her Methodist bishop, Gregory Palmer.  

Young says pro-lifers are exercising a “misguided faith” when they peacefully tell women entering Preterm that there is a better way, according to the National Right to Life. Rather, Young insists that pro-lifers are "hurling hate and judgment" on women who have abortions. Young rhetorically asks, "Is that loving?"

However, the Very Reverend Jason Kappanadze, priest of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Elmira Heights, New York, differs with Young. “The Church never judges people, but judges actions,” he explained. “We do, however, tell the truth, to help people discern the godly, loving path.”

“How far we have strayed from true understanding, when we characterize an attempt to save lives as hateful, and characterize the taking of life as loving?” he asked.

“To tamper with the creation of human beings by God - intentionally and by His loving will - is an example of human arrogance and hubris, and is indicative of a loss of fundamental reasoning and the understanding of life.”

Kappanadze says he sees the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as emblematic of a deeper problem. “The growth of the acceptance of abortion is parallel to the loss of direction of many Christians, who can no longer call people to repentance because of their division,” he said. The division of Christians, he said, “prevents them from speaking with one voice, as it was in the beginning of the Church.”

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Kristi Burton Brown


Video shows unborn baby at 18 weeks ‘singing’ to music in groundbreaking study

Kristi Burton Brown
By Kristi Burton Brown

October 12, 2015 (LiveActionNews) -- Innovative scientists at the Institut Marques in Barcelona, Spain, have made an amazing discovery. Preborn babies can hear and respond to music much sooner than previously believed.

“For the first time ever,” it can be scientifically proven that a preborn baby detects and responds to sound at 16 weeks gestation.

The Institut Marques reports (emphasis mine):

“Ultrasound”, the journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS), has published our study entitled “Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginally Transmitted Music”, an innovative research project on fetal hearing.

This report explains that, beginning in week 16 of pregnancy, a response exists to music delivered intravaginally, expressed through specific movements of the mouth and tongue.

Our initial hypothesis suggests that music creates a response which manifests as vocalisation movements, as it activates the brain circuits that stimulate language and communication. In other words, learning begins in utero.

The Daily Mail reports: “ntil now experts did not believe a foetus could hear until week 18, at the earliest but more commonly nearer 26 weeks.”

This scientific discovery is just one more in a long line, proving the absolute humanity, beauty, and value of preborn babies. As science develops, we gain windows to the womb that show us the valuable person we lose every time an abortion is committed.

Abortion does not take a potential life: it take the real, actual, life of a human being. And in many cases, this little human can already sing.

Click "like" if you are PRO-LIFE!

This video shows an amazingly formed preborn baby at 18 weeks – just two weeks after the ability to respond to music can be scientifically proven.

For more information on preborn babies at every age, check out the stunning photos, videos, and detailed information provided by The Endowment for Human Development, a scientific nonprofit dedicated “to help everyone appreciate, apply, and communicate the science of health and human development.

Reprinted with permission from Live Action News

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