When the news broke that Batman: The Killing Joke was going to get an adult animated movie, comic fans rejoiced. The dark tale that ended Barbara Gordon's time as Batgirl and set the course for her new life as handicapped hero Oracle would not be censored for the 6-11 year old demographic, and would instead have DC follow after longtime rival Marvel in the adult market, after their successful and R-rated hit Deadpool.
But the reaction in the coming months to the story was more shocking than anything stemming from pen and paper, and illustrates an alarming trend in adult men.
For starters, when news leaked that a rape segment involving The Joker and Batgirl was going to be left untouched and accurate from it's comic book origins, comic fans rejoiced. This was yet another victory.
…. Until it was also leaked that there is a consensual sex scene involving Batman and Batgirl.
Suddenly, those cheers for joy turned to angry and vile internet hate. Fans once primed and ready for the film's limited release, suddenly turned to threats of violence against the animation team at Warner Brothers, demands of refunds for every piece of Batman related merchandise, and the looming threat of a boycott leading up to the film's debut.
Let's examine what's wrong with this.
In the first place, despite what the media has ungenerously posted, a sexual relationship between Batman and Batgirl actually did happen in the comic books. For those who missed the pre-1990's comics, Batgirl has had intercourse with both Batman and Nightwing on several occasions. She has also had a tumultuous off and on relationship with the latter for several years. Longtime DC fans not of the threaten-via-Twitter generation not only accepted the brief romances of Barbara, they have also played with said relationships in everything from fan art, fanfics, cosplay and video game modding. This is not news. Even the 1990's cartoon that was aimed at children ages 6-11 hinted at a flirting feeling between Batgirl and both men.
Second, let's discuss the double-standard. So Batgirl sleeps with Batman and Robin, and she is a whore. Alright. And yet you say nothing about Batman being a deadbeat father and Nightwing being a man-whore?
Until The New 52 series, Batman almost never saw his son Damien, a demonic child born out of wedlock from a one-night stand with Talia al Ghul. He left Damien completely alone in her care, even knowing the boy's maternal grandfather was a clinically insane enemy, and did not start to take responsibility for the boy until Damien became a tween. Until then, Batman enjoyed many a loveless dalliance with Catwoman, Batgirl and a laundry list of shameless tarts, debutantes and side characters. Shouldn't Batman take the slut-shaming from fans in this regard?
And then there is Nightwing. The original Robin has had his own share of illicit sex partners. At one point or another, the Boy Wonder has slept with Starfire, promised to marry her, only to sleep with other women behind her back. He's played the same game on Barbara, and yet nobody is slut-shaming this thoughtless pig in spandex.
But number three on my list is what really disturbs me the most.
Just like in the comic book, again, The Joker rapes Barbara. Rather than view this as a vicious and mind-altering crime the way original fans of The Killing Joke graphic novel saw it, today's comic fans are cheering it on. Somehow, The Joker is no longer seen as a murderous rapist and villain, he's seen as a “hero” to today's youth.
And with Barbara being the victim, movie goers are cheering even louder. How dare she have a consensual relationship with Batman? How dare she take control of her own body and her own life? Stab her! Kill her! Rape that whore, Joker, you're our man!
Is nobody seeing this as a problem? Have we lost our minds?
The Joker is evil. He is a villain. He does bad things on purpose. And in case you skipped the 5th grade, let me be clear. Rape is evil, no matter what the excuse is.
I've seen some of the non-anti-Batgirl excuses, and they are pathetic. Probably the most pathetic is a 50 Shades of Gray inspired notion, that The Joker is just misunderstood.
If you honestly think that, you missed the comic and the movie's point entirely.
The Joker is not “misunderstood”. He's also not a “troubled soul” in need of counseling. Never has been. He is fully aware, conscious and understands what he is doing. He's not troubled, he's a monster. DC Comics has done everything they can to convey that clear, black and whit message here, and yet so-called Joker fans are looking for more ways out for the purple clown than his own henchmen!
This generation calling for the rape of Barbara Gordon is the very same under the delusion that DC's live action Suicide Squad film, in which The Joker must play emergency hero along with a cast of other clear and obvious villains. They fooled themselves into thinking he was a tragic soul with a romantic streak during Batman: The Animated Series as he was seen slapping around his lover Harley Quinn, and they fooled themselves into thinking he was the true hero and Batman was the villain in the Dark Knight. In every incarnation of Batman, from the comics to movies, even in the campy and comedic Batman: Brave and the Bold and Superfriends line of cartoons, DC has taken great care not to blur the line too badly on the Joker and to make it crystal clear he is and always has been an unforgivable monster, and yet despite all efforts, this generation is hailing a rapist as a hero, and a female superhero as the villain, simply because she has control of her life.
The violence and torture of the adult cartoon Batman: The Killing Joke shouldn't shock you if you read the comic book. The only way it could really disturb you is if you were a fan of Batman: The Animated Series as a few returning voices from your childhood return to completely destroy it, but the fans of the cartoon, or now anti-fans, now that's what ought to shock and disturb you.