Did James Holmes Emulate the Joker?

The short answer, no.  The long answer, absolutely not.  The reason I’m even mentioning this, and took the time to write an article on the subject, is because I’ve heard this inaccurate elaboration repeated far too often in a short time.  The other reason is, I’m always concerned when the media attempts to attach a violent act to a fictional character, or some piece of entertainment.  That’s always the first step leading towards unjustified censorship, and it always gets fundamentalist religious nuts all up in a stir.  I certainly in no way condone the actions of the individual responsible for such an event, but I also cannot stand sensationalism (especially when it comes coupled with inaccurate information).

It’s actually somewhat remarkable that this urban myth has been established so quickly, and even more remarkable that it’s already been perpetuated so often.  In reality, James Holmes shared absolutely no characteristics with the character “The Joker” from the Batman series, other than the killing itself.  Starting with the obvious, we can address the hair color.  You may have noted that the hair color of the famous villain is Green.  You may also have noticed that the hair color of the suspect James Holmes is Orange/Red.  Need I say more?  Now, perhaps it’s possible that Holmes in fact did intend to die his hair green, but is color blind and mistook the color red/orange for a shade of green…and I’m not interested in disputing THAT particular claim.

Another claim I’ve heard, as the myth has grown in the past few days is that James Holmes “dressed up as the Joker”.  This is absolutely ridiculous.  The suspect was dressed head to toe in combat gear, complete with armor.  This is nothing like the tattered, faux clown suit worn by the Joker.  It’s strange that all of this seems to stem from a report given by a responding police officer, in which they claim that the suspect stated “I am the Joker” during the arrest/scene.  This was clearly nothing more than the utterance of someone playing a terrifying “joke” on his captors, and was likely not intended by Holmes as literally meaning “I think I am the Joker from Batman.  I do not know that I really am not the Joker.  I am in fact intentionally doing this because I think I am the Joker character from Batman”…although, that’s the way it’s been skewed across the media.  It’s clear they simply took that statement, found an enticing phrase to use for headlines and bombarded us with the idea that a madman, who thought he was “The Joker” unleashed death upon an innocent movie-going audience.

This causes problems that range from unfair judgement against the Batman Dark Knight series, an inaccurate portrayal of the events, and in fact downplays the serious and egregious nature of this crime.  It turns it into a comic book farce, a “joke” gone wrong.  It makes a mockery of what really happened, and distracts from the facts of the case.  If only the various media outlets could focus on their REAL job, delivering factual information about recent events, then perhaps we’d know a little more about what really happened.  The benefit to knowing the pure facts, without all the sensationalist garbage, is that we can gain insight into future events when such occur. The danger to not knowing the pure facts, is that we go through life thinking that anything bad that happens must be tied to some big elaborate, comic-book-esque nonsense.  This puts us at risk for not understanding future occurrences of wrong-doing, and leaves us less able to rationally cope with large-scale traumatic events.

To be frank, and this is purely objective, but we still don’t even actually know for certain that James Holmes is guilty of the crime.  As much as it seems likely that he is, almost certain in fact, we do live in a country that is supposed to uphold the ideal that “a man is innocent until proven guilty”.  I think it’s important that we never lose sight of these fundamental ideals, even in the face of great emotional distress.  The wrong tactics in seeking justice, can make monsters or “Jokers” of us all.

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