I finally caught The Dark Knight the other day and Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker certainly lived up to the hype. Other critiques aside, Ledger certainly burned up the screen and his version of the Joker was quite frightening. I’d read in a New York Times article earlier this year that The Dark Knight‘s joker was informed by a mixture of the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten and Malcolm McDowell’s Alex from A Clockwork Orange. I can certainly see those connections to Ledger’s Joker, what was so eerie and captivating about the essence of the Joker in the new Batman film was it reminded me so much of Norwegian black metal. A little too much. It isn’t purely the grim iconography of the re-imagined Joker, but the cult of death and destruction that surrounds black metal was imbued into every second of Ledger’s time on film.
If anything, the rare accounts of church burnings in Norway and suicide by emo fans are a sign that the members of these communities are not interested in escapism, but confrontation. That their ideas and thoughts are no different or less thought-out than anything else. However, these scenes are not to blame for the actions of a few. Just like in any other case where art is seemingly to blame (such as the most famous one in recent years, Marilyn Manson and Columbine), it is ultimately up to the individual to take whatever actions they may choose. A song, image, or band cannot be at fault when the responsibility for what happens in one person’s life revolves directly on the impact of that person’s choices. It’s the same in Norway as it is in America and the rest of the world.
Intro to Vice TV’s “True Norwegian Black Metal” (note – not for the faint of heart):
*Note: Stosuy also outlines the differences between black metal and death metal to a fine point in the article. I apologize if the title of this entry may have lead anyone to believe they were reading about death metal.