Monday, 15 August 2016

In Defence of The Killing Joke


I wrote a review of this film back when I was writing for digifira and my feelings of it have not changed at all, I still quite happily stick up for it when I have the chance. I even got hold of the limited edition from Amazon and took great delight in showing it to my wife who was quite keen to see it. I had told her enough about it as the film's one-night release approached which I went to but she was quite happy to wait for me to buy it as getting a babysitter for the children so she could come with me was a massive ballache on a weeknight.

She was not fussed over the "controversial" sex scene (or the beginnings of it) at all and when I told her about the stink people had kicked up over it, she was just confused. In retrospect, I will always appreciate that the filmmakers were quite respectful of the source material as far as I was concerned and I always think that the beginning complimented it. It strikes me though that the same critics that were doing their best to defend the likes of Ghostbusters were also the ones who had their knives out for this film because of Barbara Gordon's fate but this is where me and a lot of other people will disagree: I always thought she should have stayed as Oracle and not regained the ability to walk because to me it was a better character.
One of the most influential people in my life when I was growing up, was my grandmother and it was in her house that I first started writing stories; this blog is named after her. She was disabled for the last years of her life but she was full of character and I never remember her moaning about it. Be it walking with the aid of crutches or using a wheelchair she just got on with life until she passed on sixteen years ago at the time of writing this. Characters like Oracle always remind me of her and also are an example of however many modern feminists complain about women in comics (even though the men are treated much worse) but I do not think I have ever seen them complain about disabled characters. I am in full agreement with the author Gina Misiroglu when she observed in her book that when compared to the likes of Professor X and Dare Devil (who came with disabilities to begin with) "Gordon stands tall as the most empowering disabled superhero. Readers witnessed her tragedy and watched her rise above it."

I know that Alan Moore does not look back kindly on The Killing Joke and that's fair enough but for me, I think he did a good thing with the story. I stand by something that I wrote a long time ago with the character in that the war on crime does not take any prisoners and a bullet really doesn't care what your gender is. I know there will be people out there who will disagree and I really have no problem with that, I love the debate on these things but to me, a character who goes through something like what Barbara Gordon did only to reverse it years later is the result of a cop out and a missed opportunity in what could have been some interesting stories.

It is like Kirk said in Star Trek five: "I don't want my pain taken away, I need my pain!"

Sure, Barbara Gordon went back to being Bat Girl but I will always prefer her as Oracle, I know I may get some criticism for saying that but bare in mind that even Tara Strong herself has defended The Killing Joke and Barbara's portrayal, I'll take the word of Barbara herself over that of the idiot/s from Bleeding Cool News any day of the week.


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