I have this ritual where I watch movies multiple times. I am a movie buff. Therefore, once a year, I watch the Godfather part 1,2 and 3. I always discover something subtle that I previously missed. There is also another movie I watch religiously, more than once a year: The Dark Knight. The 2008 masterpiece by Christopher Nolan where Batman faces his archnemesis, the Joker played by the unique, once-in-a-generation talented actor, the tremendous Heath Ledger.
Batman is arguably one of the the smartest superheroes in the comics universe, some would say as smart Tony Stark/Iron Man or Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (who holds 7 PhDs!!). Well, as smart as Batman is, he possesses a fundamental flaw or quality, depending on your vantage point. He has a strong moral code and swore a vow to never kill his enemies. Not a smart rule since he is battling bad guys/girls who have vowed to kill him. The enemies keep coming since he doesn’t kill them. He just puts them in jail, and they keep escaping. Frankly, if he killed them, then the writers would have to create new villains every week or month and that is tedious work but superhero mythology rests on heroes battling villains who never stop coming back, immortal villains if you will.
In the movie “Batman begins”, the prequel to the Dark Knight, Ra’s Al Ghul, Batman’s mentor and later enemy, says that “your compassion is a weakness that your enemies will not share”. To which Batman answers “that’s why it is so important. It separates us from them.” That is the genesis of his moral code. How can one be better than killers if they kill? How are you different from your enemies if you act and behave like them? I guess Batman doesn’t believe in the motto “it takes a wolf to catch a wolf” uttered by Alonzo Harris in the movie Training Day.
Enter The Joker, arguably Batman’s archnemesis and perhaps the greatest villain in movie history. In the movie “The Dark Knight”, he messes with Batman in ways our superhero can’t fathom. He knows how Batman thinks and he witnesses firsthand his (in)famous moral code. He rejoices that Batman has limitations and barriers. So, he spends the whole movie testing them. He pushes Batman to the brink of insanity by introducing chaos into the city Batman has sworn to protect. “Chaos is fair” The Joker says, in a banal way, proving he knows how people panic when things don’t go according to plan! However, chaos isn’t fair when you are the agent of chaos. The Joker creates chaos by shutting down the very fabric of society, law and order.
Because of his insane appearance, weird speech pattern and quirk mannerisms, The Joker’s enemies fail to see how clever he is and they overwhelmingly underestimate him. During the movie, we discover the Joker is light years ahead in his understanding of basic human psychology. He knows on a deeper level that civilized people can only stay “civilized” because they have barriers, because there is protection, because there is a structure set by laws and rules. He claims that people are civilized because they fear the strong hand of the law, which was established to scare the bad guys and protect the innocent from those evil doers. If the fear of jail and punishment are taken away by eliminating the police force and the courts, then people might turn into less “civilized” citizens and ultimately turn on each other.
The Joker claims, and perhaps, he is right, that if you break down the fabric of society, introduce a little anarchy and make the system crash, then men and women might go back to their primal selves and engage in “uncivilized” behavior. To demonstrate his point, The Joker toys with Batman and the population of Gotham city. He is always 2 steps ahead of everybody. At one point, he allows the police to capture him while his goons kidnap Batman’s friends. He messes with the existing crime syndicates by using his calculated methods, that seem random but, are, in reality, nothing but. He ends up ruling the city as the master criminal. Who better to understand the criminal mind than the archetype of a criminal? The Joker is unpredictable, clever, cunning and without mercy. I don’t think a better villain ever existed in the comic universe or in movies.
Why am I talking about the movie? Simply because it illustrates the power the agents of chaos have over us. Forget the movie. We all know people who like to mess things up, who love nothing more than create discord, disagreement, a bit of chaos. Who could argue that this pandemic isn’t an agent of chaos? Look at what the world has become! Everything has stopped and suddenly, we realized yet again that we don’t control shit on this planet. We only have and entertain the illusion of control. We can barely control our primal needs; how can we ever control the world?
Agents of chaos exist and thrive when they reach their goal. We all know a few. They like controversy, they thrive on conflict and sometimes, they take cover under the disguise of “shaking the status quo”. I am saying this because I saw so many of them on twitter, the literal hotbed for controversy, insults, confrontations, and pure insanity. They say they shake people out of apathy but there is nothing noble in creating chaos when you already have an escape plan. The Joker talks about chaos, but he has devised a few scenarios of how things might go, to his advantage of course. That isn’t chaos. That is simply taking over, to reign supreme, with no opposition, no adversary. It is dictatorship, nothing more, nothing less.
Beware of agents of chaos. They will use the term chaos, which technically means “the inherent unpredictability in the behavior of a complex natural system”, “the confused unorganized state of primordial matter before the creation of distinct forms (in physics)” and “a state of utter confusion”. Those who create chaos always have a plan, which gives them a considerable advantage on the confused masses which have been blindsided. They use fear often. They use threats. They are not worthy of being followed yet, the human mind tends to follow charismatic, fearless and shameless people. People who have certain sociopathic tendencies are amazing agents of chaos. My distaste for them knows no bounds and I will fight them any chance I get.
I personally don’t trust agents of chaos. They always have an agenda, a personal and selfish agenda. The Joker has existed since April 1940 and we still don’t know his name. His background is always called into question, it is foggy and mysterious. When you don’t know who your enemy is, you can never know what they really want. The agents of chaos love confusion. They love throwing people off their game. Those are people I cannot trust, ever. I assume I am not the only one.
Beware of agents of chaos. They serve themselves first and foremost.
Just one man’s opinion.
Now smile and go on with your day.