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The JokerA Serious Study of the Clown Prince of Crime$
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Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781628462388

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2016

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781628462388.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

“You Complete Me”

“You Complete Me”

The Joker as Symptom

(p.229) “You Complete Me”
The Joker

Michael Goodrum

University Press of Mississippi

Goodrum takes on the daunting task of viewing the Joker, and particularly his appearance in Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film The Dark Knight, through the lens of Slavoj Žižek. Arguing against understanding Batman and the Joker simply as opposing forces – a hero and a villain, in the traditional sense – Goodrum suggests a reading employing the Žižekian notion of the “symptom.” This reading allows a nuanced understanding of Nolan’s film, Goodrum argues, because it moves beyond seeing Batman solely as an agent of order counterposed to the Joker’s agent of chaos: “Batman’s presence makes villains mandatory, and his existence as an extra-legal force, a totalitarian blemish, renders the democracy he defends impossible.” The Joker, meanwhile, “is not a symptom of a disease afflicting the system—the Joker is a symptom of the system itself.” Neither character, Goodrum argues, appreciates this dimension of their identity, which makes The Dark Knight a particularly rich post-9/11 text.

Keywords:   The Dark Knight, Slavoj Zizek, Symptom, System, Post-9/11

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