How Joker Shows Us the Path Towards Evil
The moral case for finding a way to avoid the path to evil.
What makes someone evil?
How does someone go from an innocent child who wouldn't harm a fly, to someone who is so corrupted by things that they couldn't care less what happened to anyone? That they would willingly and deliberately participate in the destruction of others. Do people just wake up one day and decide the world is a horrible place? Or is it a slow process? So slow that it's hard to see whether or not it's even happening to you in the moment. There's even some who believe that those who would engage in such acts are born to do them. Having no choice in the matter, they simply do what they were created to do.
It's a question that people have struggled with since people had the ability to notice. Particularly because there are so many examples of each of these arguments, there's almost no way to win it if they wanted to. This is why there's so many interesting examples of evil and its many complexities in film and television. Because people are endlessly fascinated with trying to finally settle the question of what makes someone do the kind of horrific things they do. Whether it's murder, on a small or large scale, or any of the other atrocities we've seen over the centuries. No matter what we try, there seems to be no way to eliminate it.
More recently, the emerging consensus seems to be that evil is slow and subtle when it emerges. As one of my favourite quotes on the subject states:
“The path to evil is a journey, not a light switch.”
The problem is that identifying who will become evil and who will use the struggle to become a better person. Despite so many attempts to see the simplest path as the correct one, some people who go through very similar circumstances simply learn to overcome it. Coming to terms with the frustration of not being able to eradicate evil can in and of itself become a pathway to evil. Many have tried and all of them have been found entirely lacking, creating its own evil in the process.
Joker understands this on virtually every level.
Arthur Fleck is not an evil person, or at least he tries not to be. His goal in life is to make people happy. To bring them joy and laughter and to save them from the miserable situation so many of them find themselves in. This is not a bad goal to have. The problem is that trying to reach this goal when you have nothing is incredibly difficult. People have their own ideas about what makes them happy. So imposing your own idea of being happy on other people can't lead anywhere good.
Which is what ultimately brings him down. All the misery and destruction which results from his absolute failure to either create happiness for himself or for other people. It piles up until there's nothing left to do but to embrace that misery and destruction.
To find a way to laugh at it.
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