Saturday, May 2, 2009
Self-Interview RE: My Kid's Joker Obsession
Q: Is it really an 'obsession'?
A: She was mildly obsessed with tornados last summer. But six-year olds don't really get obsessed. So no, not an obsession. But she does kind of go nuts when and after we watch a Joker episode of Batman (the Animated Series.) She laughs maniacally and repeats all the dialogue, which is kind of creepy, because she's got it word for word.
Q: You're concerned.
A: No. I like to play like I'm concerned. Really I'm a proud father. I'm like, That's my girl!
A: You know, there's a lot of dumb-ass lessons in kids' media. The values are all right, but the art is a yawn. I like to see her running with her delights.
Q: And why does the Joker delight her?
A: That's the Q, isn't it? What's especially interesting here is that in most all other cases she really really doesn't like it when the good guys are seriously vulnerable to the bad guys.
Q: And the opposite is the true in this case?
A: Not exactly. She's not disappointed when Batman nabs the Joker in the end. But she's not really pulling for Batman either. And she seems to really enjoy the parts where Joker fucks with his good-citizen captives.
Q: A six-year old sadist?
A: Let me go at that earlier Q--why Joker delights her. In her favorite episode, the Joker escapes from prison on Christmas Eve and immediately commandeers all the broadcast media in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne and his young ward (this is not the time for my usual adolescent jokes) are just sitting down to watch It's a Wonderful Life, but there's a message -- 'We interrupt this programming' -- and Joker comes on with his 'special.' He's got three special guests--the bound and candy-gagged Commisioner Gordon and a cop and a TV reporter, whom he's dressed as a 'family': "Daddy Lawful, Mommy Lawful and Baby Lawful." He teases them cleverly. He's got a laugh track lined up.
Q: This delights her because...?
A: There's no way to know, but here's what I'm thinking: it has to do w/ authority -- the voice of it, the image of it. How Joker always undermines these, but without really doing much harm.
Q: Without doing harm?
A: Joker likes toying with people more than he does hurting them. That's what comedy itself is about, right? Good comedy always involves the transgression of abstract boundaries. Joker's an embodiment of that. Order, sobriety, providence, gender, rationality, politesse, law -- all of this gets fucked with when Joker is around. Just in terms of vibe, I think that's what she's into.