Artistic Responsiblity

This morning was Friday, July 20, 2012. I went shopping; I had a ten dollar gift card to use. As I walked into the store I saw the blue-ray of The Dark Knight-$9.99. I thought about it, but I had told myself I was going to be practical. I bought a large bottle of dish soap and a bag of rice. Much later, I found out what else happened this morning. While most people slept, the joy of a mid-night release of the new Batman movie was destroyed. A man in Colorado went into the theatre and started shooting. It was one of the worst shootings in history.
I haven’t seen the new Batman movie and don’t care to do so. I enjoyed The Dark Knight, but I didn’t enjoy what it taught about morality. The man who decided to embrace his evil nature and shoot those people this morning will face God in eternity and hopefully the death penalty in Colorado. But I do believe another villain is loose that must be addressed and as a writer I have the ability to do so.
People are affected by the stories they listen to. Dark Knight, along with many other movies, books, and songs, teaches a dangerous idea that must stop. Artists who teach that absolute morality doesn’t exist cannot expect people to leave that idea behind with the tubs of popcorn and the theatre’s sticky floors.
In Dark Knight, every single character has to violate what they knew was the standard of right and wrong. Starting with bank robbers to Batman, each person makes a conscious decision to do something that they knew was wrong. Joker plays Gotham City, the underworld, and Batman like a flute—suffering only a few punches, Joker’s life is saved at the last minute by Batman. In the end, Joker destroys Gotham’s peace and murders dozens, but he is left unpunished. He’s a problem that is supposed to be dealt with by a therapist.
One thing The Dark Knight did better than most was put a moral question before the public—unfortunately, it’s answer was plain wrong. Dark Knight taught that one should do what they think will serve the greater good, even if it happens to be wrong. People lie, violate others rights, even attempt and commit murder because it’s what is “best.” Do the writers believe that?
Wrong, sin, and evil are actual things. For us to discount them as myth is to dream up a fantasy far too outlandish and foolish for man’s evil nature to withstand. Mankind has proven time and time again that despite all our hopes to the contrary, man is evil through and through. A mental disease didn’t cause a man to shoot movie goers this morning, but you will hear many people say that. It’s called evil and sin. Calling it a sickness is akin to calling Agent Orange a variation on a cold. Mankind’s evil is a real fact that must be remembered.
As an artist, I can create a world. And what’s better, I can invite others into my dream world to play. We can have a wonderful time and I can help brighten their days. But while they are there, I have a moral responsibility to put certain ideas into my world and keep others out. To teach that morals are just conventions that can come and go at will is not only false but morally wrong. Why should I develop a dream world where the good guys differ from bad guys only in the amount of their reluctance to commit evil? How can I let men in my world choose evil and not suffer for it? Such things are not only an affront to God and His morality, but foolish. Men want excuses for their evil, if I make evil acceptable, misunderstood, or worse of all sophisticated and funny, I allow them to get those excuses. And history is full of the horrible answers to the question, “What has mankind done with excuses to commit evil?” Hitler, Stalin, David Koresh, Jim Jones prove time and time again, that we artists cannot expect nothing to happen when we give people excuses for evil.
Another instructive thing happened today, I watched the musical Gigi. In it, a rich Frenchman’s uncle teaches him the fine art of social life in the late 1800’s. With total resolve to being a “gentleman” he teaches his nephew to go from one worthless trivial affair to the next, using women like extravagant prostitutes that get paid off with expensive jewelry and luxurious apartments. Through the whole story, the young man is bored senseless unless he is with real people—not the fake society crowd. The story climaxes in the young man turning Gigi, a real person, into his charming phony mistress. In anger, he realizes the stupidity of it all and then marries her, turning his back on his uncle’s “gentlemanly” life.
The Dark Knight and Gigi have very little in common. A gritty special effects action adventure has little to do with a period musical. But artists should learn that like the uncle in Gigi, artists have the opportunity to introduce bored people to wonderful worlds. And like in Gigi, this world is fake; the society page is as much fiction as any of the D.C. comics. But this fake world affects what one thinks about the real world. The nephew frantically tried to apply his uncle’s advice to real life; he viciously dumps his mistress and then throws dozens of parties to prove he doesn’t care about her or her failed suicide attempt.
Are we artist, writers, and storytellers bad uncles?
Stories teach, whether we like it or not. If they teach immorality, should we be surprised if the students act immoral? If they teach violence, should student’s violence surprise us? And worst, if they teach that right and wrong do not matter should we be surprised that our world is becoming lawless? Our story telling is coming back to get us. We can no longer afford to have immoral heroes and heroines. If we continue with our imaginary gladiatorial games, teaching boys and girls that right and wrong are mythical and violating them has no consequences, what will we say to them when we are staring down the barrel of gun in the real world?

We who are about to die salute you-Hunger Games Movie Review

This is a review and criticism of the Movie “Hunger Games.” I have not yet read the Book Series.

As far as the movie technical side is concerned, I have two emphatic words for movie makers out there–STEADY CAM! I nearly lost my lunch with all the shaky camera work. I understand you can’t show the gore and thank you for trying to not show it, but hand cameras wasn’t the answer.

The Movie focuses on a future totalitarian government forcing each district to sacrifice a boy and girl to fight to the death in pageantry rich television show called the Hunger Games. The heroine and the “hero” (we’ll deal with that later) are mentored by a drunk previous survivor–His advice is play the game, get sponsors, and be smart. With his advice and backstage manipulation and wheeling dealing manages to get the director of the games to play for ratings–this allows both heroine and hero to band together and survive. In a last minute rules change, the heroine is forced to kill the hero. Instead she responds with calling the directors bluff–nearly committing suicide. The couple come home as “star-crossed lovers” having given a sick society a great dose of bloody violence and a warm fuzzy love story.

There are three fully capable human beings in this story. The heroine, the mentor, and president of this sick government. The heroine, who volunteered to take the place of her younger sister, is ready to fight, get friends, protect them, and do what is necessary to survive the games she hates. This “do whatever it takes” includes playing the lover to the hero–giving the sick society her love story as a means to root for and help her. The mentor, a drunk survivor of a previous years games, is also fully capable-as a wheeler dealer, he gets help dropped into the games and gets a crucial rule change thrown into the games–this motivates the heroine to join the hero. The president is also competent–understanding the purpose of the games, to distract and control the people. He has the director killed when he fails to the heroine’s bluff.

Everyone else is a shallow shell of a human being. The heroine’s mom is shell shocked over the violent death of her husband. The hero’s mom is abusive. The games ridiculously dressed sponsors are more concerned with the heroine’s manners than the fact that they are about to die. Even the kind stylist, in a moment of deep kindness, tells the heroine, “If I could, I’d bet on you.” The other players serve as victims; their deaths dramatically serve the same function as the gladiators, to entertain the masses and cause them to root for the survivor–the cruel ones die vicious deaths we are supposed to cheer for and the kind ones die tragic deaths we are supposed to cry for. The audience is never invited to think that it’s cheering kids killing each other–even the “Lord of the Flies” didn’t make that mistake.

The “hero” is the worst example of this. A pusilanimous baker’s son, he plays the wimpy man to emphasise the strong woman of the heroine. Personally I find this type overdone. He also, more insultingly, plays up the romance angle. He can’t survive himself so he depends on his strong “girlfriend.”

That being said, the movie was well done. The story was very engaging and I’m looking forward to reading the books. More importantly, I’m looking forward to engaging in some very heavy thinking. These stories lack the one thing that made the gladiatorial games illegal–a Christian understanding of the worth of every human.  

I have one thing that truly concerns me about the whole story in general though. While many people in the story hated the games, and hated the killing, and hated the government–no one actually even said it was wrong! No one in the story made a moral judgment. It was all what they liked or didn’t like. Murder, violence, cruelty, mistreatment of the poor, and totalitarian governments are not things that are icky like rats or mold; they are WRONG. And they aren’t wrong because I dislike them, they are wrong because God says they are wrong in the Bible. This was the moral failing of the story–while it said the games were bad, sick, messed up; No one ever got up and condemned them as wrong no matter what the consequences.

On Beauty and Women

Okay, I’m a guy. I don’t get it. I’m close; but really, I don’t get it. Let me explain. I came up with, what I thought was, a fairly nice movie plot. In it, an evil witch avoids death by body swapping with her attractive young apprentices. One of her smarter apprentices doesn’t trust the witch, but “tests” the spell—locking herself out of her own body. Enter heroes, sword fights, lots of daring do—and in the end the hero gets his girl back –but she is in the other apprentice’s body. I even made it fair! The other apprentice gets the first girls body and her own beau. And they all live happily ever after.

I thought I had made a pretty romantic tale. A man proves his love for his girl—loving her even though he thought she was dead; loving her, even when she moves into another body. It is HER he loves. Not her looks, not her beauty—HER! For crying out loud, it’s supposed to be romantic! Then the other apprentice gets a guy who is interested in her! Not her looks, Her! AND both guys tell their girl when she is in her new body-they totally think she’s hot! So I tell my little tale in a car drive in Colorado. I think it’s romantic.

I was wrong.

Both ladies in the car are like “Nope, won’t work.” Both of my poor heroines will be spending the rest of their days wondering if her man really loves her or that other one. Ouch. But looks aren’t what is supposed to be important so… “Nope, won’t work.” Hmm, I need to do some thinking about this interesting creature called woman.

Okay, yes, I agree God doesn’t make junk and women are pretty. Some a beautiful and some are able to reduce otherwise cogent men into mumbling fools. I get that; I’m totally NOT unintelligent in that regard. But, hey, beauty is only skin deep and all beauty fades in time and it’s what is on the inside that counts: that’s what’s really important, right? 

 YES! And No. Ah, don’t you just love clear answers. Get used to it men, women are an enigma. But a solvable one.

No, beauty is not what really counts, but don’t go thinking it doesn’t count either. According to Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn’s book For Men Only, women have this inner worry about their looks. They describe it as a little girl asking her daddy if she’s pretty. Women apparently want to hear and want to know that their significant other thinks she’s pretty.

So when my heroine switched bodies, she really would have this constant nagging child telling her, “He doesn’t love you, he loves that other lady.” And of course, your really can’t end a fair tale with, “and she was an emotionally tormented basket case for the rest of her life.” So any woman would look at my fairy tale and say “NOPE!”  

Hmm. Interesting. I’ve got a wonderful little romantic fairy tale all women would really hate. I bet there are men who would pay extra to see a romantic flick their wives are retching at. And it has sword fighting! I see a market niche! Hmmm.

I guess a better thing is to tell all you men out their with a significant other. I really didn’t know it was so big a deal, but it is. Hey, guys, women need to hear their beautiful—you think she is. So tell her!   

I’m beginning to hate the messed up characters

I like to write; which comes with other statement, I like to read. Lately, I miss the competent humans in books. It’s like the whole world has resigned itself to the fact that mankind is REALLY messed up. Many (if not all) the modern books I’ve seen are about–“Oh, wow, some horrible thing beyond my control has really messed me up and will continue to do so; but I must fight for something by creepy bordering-on-committable stalking and obsession.”  (I am thinking of Twilight by the way, but also basically EVERY other book in recent years.)

I like Dean Koontz; Now his characters are often (always?) messed up beyond reason; and, even though the bad guys usually get it in the end, I have a complaint. 

Here is the thing: I am a Christian–and as such, I have a world view that allows me to make sense of every given circumstance that I will ever encounter–This includes the supernatural, natural, normal, paranormal, kind, cruel, nasty, freakish, and quiet. So, I in my reading I have to muddle through the emotional angst of characters that come from the other side of the track.

These characters represent the nonsensical contradictory veiws of the humanist, the atheist, the pantheist, the Buddhist, or nature worshipper. And those are just the worldviews –add the usual self-destructive, lustful, self-loathing that comes with the worldviews and OUCH! I get headaches thinking about it.  

I like Characters that are not messed up by circumstances; I like the conquerors–the characters that look at the problem, and solve it. That take their problems and improve themselves by them. I like hope, confidence, respect, and courage. The Fellowship of the Ring that against all odds launches an attack at the greatest evil of their day. Aslan offering himself for Edmund. Miss Who as a star exploding-driving back the darkness. I like the people that don’t resign them to defeatist modern attitude.

I guess, like Jack, if I want books that I like to read, I’m gonna have to write them. (P.S. Anyone know who Jack is?)

Cube World–Coming Soon

Starting this coming month, I plan on posting a monthly serial story. The title is CUBE WORLD. The title may be in use, most great titles are, but so what. Coming ONLY TO CREATIVE ZEAL MEDIA website, JUNE 1st is CUBE WORLD episode one! With episode 2 to follow, July 1st. Comments and criticisms are welcome. Enjoy the world that IS the box!


Tron Legacy—A Criticism.

 Ah, Disney once again gains millions of dollars from the vast uneducated or undiscerning movie going public by washing off a mediocre film of the past and ruining it completely.

Where to begin? The movie was painful assault on the intellect with NO perks that usually accompany movie watching.

Let’s look at the ridiculous assortment of characters that attacked our senses with little to show for it. Like Avon Flux we have an interesting world populated by unbelievable characters who interact with each other in something barely recognizable as a plot. Unfortunately, I have to say Avon Flux made a better showing and that is SAYING something.

The HERO Sam—is one ridiculously clichéd contradiction after another. He is teleported to another world, nearly killed a dozen times, betrayed by his dad’s best creation, abducted by a mysterious lady that refuses to answer any questions, meets his dad after being abandoned for 20 years! And then in a ridiculous scene that NO human tolerate—sits down to dinner and talks about HIS life—NOT insisting to be brought up to speed in the situation that is staring him in the face and on multiple occasions tried to KILL him. Then for the rest of the movie delivers all of his lame dialogue in a ridiculously subdued whisper—even when his father is about to die or when he is fighting to save the girl.  

The DAD—unable to actually ACT human—is trying to come across as some sort of ridiculously incompetent costumed Jedi. His motivations are so fickle and again clichéd that only seven year old boys would be amused and that is only because he has somekind of magic powers.

The GIRL is a nonentity—barely having enough lines to get the plot (if that is not insulting the word) going. She comes across as an enormous BLANK. I suppose this is intentional; because she is supposed to be a niave spontaneously generated life-form. But this makes no sense; because she is also supposed to be able to save mankind from all of its problems. So acting as little as she possibly can—she manages to be the clichéd girl on the arm of the clichéd hero. (Vomit noise inserted here.)

ENTER the villain. Woops, I can’t find one! The shallower than the drip of syrup in an empty can of peaches villain is insult to the clichéd villain. His motivation, to fulfill his creator’s commands, has somehow caused him to think this accomplished by trying to kill his creator and everyone else. He lashes out violently for no reason, killing Zeus and Zeus’ girlfriend and his secretary for no purpose. He has little to no motivation; hardly coming across as bad, he is more like a resounding “huh?” He hates without hating—plots without plotting—and in the end is destroyed by an unnecessary sacrifice of dad.  

 TRON—Hidden in a suit of armor, the namesake of the movie works for the bad guy until the LAMEST line of turning (with the least motivation to go with it) where he (in spectacular special effects) fails to take out the villain. He goes blue and drowns? (until the sequel. {May it never become a reality})

ZEUS—behaving like a sane and sober version of the Joker—he betrays the hero, barely, (which the audience knows is going to happen), in a fight scene that would make the Power Rangers cringe in embarrassment. Somehow in this fight, the girl gets injured, dad somehow using physic powers to stop the bad guys, and then the daring trio, Dad, hero, and girl escape; and by daring I mean how dare they insult our intelligence so badly. Oh, then Zeus, refusing to do anything clever, hands the disc over to the villain and waits patiently for the villain to blow him up.

THE PLOT: I use the term loosely. Tron: Legacy is one stupid, overdone cliché after another. The most offensive line, Dad, in the tone of someone reading soup ingredients, says to his son, “I would give it all up for just another day with you.” FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! Are Disney movie writers now ripping off lame titles of County songs for their intimate dialogue? None of the dialogue is really believable. The characters are as flat as the DVD the movie comes on, and the plot is so thin it makes water look like beef stock! Added to that, the believable or cleaver moments are non-existent—from greedy corporations to villains trying to kill everyone on earth (for no reason whatsoever) the movie moves from cliché to cliché without stopping. At over two hours, the CIA should look into using this drawn out monstrosity to extract information from uncooperative prisoners.

I only have this to say, if this trash is making money, how come I’m not already famous and providing reality with better entertainment. I sincerely apologize to the movie going Americans who spent ten plus dollars to see this in the theatre. I will endeavor to get some REAL stories into the hands of movie makers so this insulting hogwash is removed from circulation.


Tragedy. It’s an interesting thing. I watched an episode of Doctor Who. I like the show. A lot of thinking goes into the stories. But this episode was sad, in the end, the hero—oddly not the doctor—looses everything: his friends, his girlfriend, he even finds out that his mom died from some stupid alien thing. The only happy ending of it was that his girlfriend was turned into an immortal piece of tile—with whom he has a deep, although weird, relationship. I hated it. I wanted the villain to loose and good to triumph. I wanted the lovable character and his lovable friends to have a good ending.

 But they didn’t. I can’t even blame the British. Blast.

 But it got me thinking. (Which, as any fan of film can tell you, is a dangerous pastime.) I’m a Christian, and tragedy is a very, well not anti—because that word and Christian have VERY huge ties—but at least opposite-Christian. Tragedy is the fact that the hero or heroine has something taken from them by the villain whoever or whatever that may be and nothing can make it right again. Romeo and Juliet loose their families and each other. Caesar is murdered. Those two ladies drive off a cliff. The guy’s girlfriend is now a talking piece of tile and his friends are all dead. It’s great drama and all—the hero looses the girl. The villain though properly defeated still wounds, stabs, steals from the hero—and nothing can make it right again.

 In a way, the Christian story is very much like that—The villain, sin and it’s ridiculous underling Satan (Sorry, but I really hate the hyped up stupid nonsense of the Satan type—for crying out loud, he’s the drugged out drug peddler—he’s had a bit too much of his own product, and is the worst slave of sin the world has ever known. Still hate him and all, peeps, but don’t give him too much credit. He doesn’t deserve it. Anyway, back to my sentence.) The villain, sin, took what was best and bravest and most glorious—the perfect man Christ Jesus—and it brutally murdered Him. In the most gruesome way possible, sin destroyed the only one that made sense of it all—the only hope for mankind.

 That’s tragic.

 But on the cross, Jesus Christ won. If it was just a silly movie and not actual historical fact, it would be downright ludicrous—Imagine, the hero being stabbed in the heart by the villain and as he slumps to the floor, smiling and saying, “I win.” But on the cross, the Savior of the world did just that. He cried out, “It is finished.” It wasn’t “I am finished” or “game over” or “we lost.” As He died, He cried out in victory; in the face of sin’s greatest victory, He won.

 He proved it three days later; He rose from the dead. He raised Himself from the dead. Death, Sin’s greatest weapon and right hand man, was defeated as easily as a man telling his butler he’s going out for a walk. The enemies of man, sin and death, were defeated soundly in their moment of greatest triumph—and because of it, anyone can have that same victory. That’s the Christian message.

 Epic? Definitely. Loving? YES! Wonderful? Beyond anything in the world or universe! But tragic? Oh no, not even close.

 So you know what, Comedy—I think God’s behind that. He gave us a sense of humor and proportion. Drama—that too. God’s given us the sense of seriousness to life. Love stories—God is love. The Epic—HA! God invented it! The story in the Bible is about the Epic Love that transcends the wickedness of man and what it took for the righteous, holy God to bring wicked, sinful man back to Himself.

 But not tragedy. God is just—all wrongs will be made right again. All loses are temporary; the villains, even in their most depraved triumphs, are really defeated. And anyone that wants too can be part of the greatest story ever told, the story of how God has made a way for mankind to come to Him.

 But now that I think off it; there is a loss that is permanent. There is a Biblical tragedy: the rebels—real people; not those in a story book—who cry against the things of God and Jesus Christ. They don’t want the salvation offered to them—they won’t take it. They want God to work on their terms, to accept their sin, to not be just and true, like He is. And they are heading just where they’ve chosen too, hell. Now that’s tragic. And what’s even worse, it’s unnecessary.  

 So Doctor Who tried a tragedy; Shakespeare did too. There is a whole industry to the fact—but there is only one real tragedy—rejecting Jesus Christ. It’s pointless. It’s sad. I hate to see it. People, real live people, walking away from hope, freedom, salvation, and love! Each day they go off into a Christ-less eternity. It’s the saddest thing about this stupid sin-cursed world. I hate it!

The Hollywood Physique

I like this restaurant Albuquerque called Weck’s. It states that it has a “full-belly tradition.” I like that too, and the mounds of hash-browns and the pancakes as big as hub-caps. Oddly enough, the decoration of these restaurants is done in classic movies with plenty of space for Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn. It actually got me thinking.

Now, at first, it got me thinking about the difference in beauty. Where Marilyn’s beauty was from her sensual appeal; Audrey Hepburn was different. In Hepburn, you have an attractive woman with depth of character and intrigue–which is a higher quality beauty. Marilyn Monroe is also very pretty, but she comes across as loose or cheap. Her actions and modesty issues produced a persona of a plaything rather than that of a valuable beautiful woman. 

Both of the women were pretty, no one would argue that either wasn’t; but one presented herself as much more than a pretty face, while the other reveled in only that.  Then I noticed something else. Two life-size photos of the two actresses. Marylin in a once-piece swimsuit and Audrey in an evening dress.

Marylin was not skinny! She wasn’t fat but she totally lacked that nearly twiggish body type that our society currently tries to elevate to the position of truly beautiful. If Marylin Monroe would be too big for our society’s current obsession of beauty, who isn’t?  Something is definitely wrong!

The thing is the “natural beauties” of the silver screen are nothing natural. If you don’t believe me, go to the local pool during water aerobics. I also suggest you don’t eat first. Those “natural bodies” will cure you of wanting to see! Those unfortunate enough to be the beauties of Hollywood can’t really enjoy life-They must constantly maintain their petite to super-petite physiques. Marylin Monroe was pretty; I don’t think she used that gift well, but she was a beauty and no one would argue differently. However, she was not a skinny body sculpture of today’s obsessed culture.

What the problem is, is that we have allowed those that have been blessed with good features and then abused themselves to extremes to manipulate those features to be the standard of beauty. But as a twenty minute swim at the local pool will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt; all those feautres are fleeting. Time will not be put off. It will conquer any physique.

But then that brings me back to Audrey Hepburn. She had something more than physical beauty. She was not just a pretty face, but a lady with class and character. I can speak from a guy’s perspective, being pretty is great; but a girl with class and character is a prize that is really attractive.

Batman and the Life Boat Test

I saw the new Batman movie, Dark Knight, a week or so ago; and honestly it caused an interesting moral conundrum. For those of you who haven’t seen it and want to, I will be discussing the plot’s climax so: WARNING Spoilers follow.

I liked the movie over all. The special effects were slightly cheesy and the laws of physics didn’t apply fairly throughout, but that’s normal for superhero movies. It basically revolves around the cities reaction to the mad man Joker. He kills, blows things up, and otherwise attacks the sanity of the (not quite) fair city of Gotham. Batman, the police, the DA, and the people of Gotham all have to act to stop this mad man. Oddly, Joker puts everything he does into the context of a moral test. Batman has to turn himself in or Joker will kill people, the Police have to remain honest in the face of enormous bribes. Throughout the entire movie the Joker wants to test ethics and morals.

It reminds me of those situational ethics tests; the most popular of which is called the life boat test. “You are on a life boat with three other people lost at sea. There is an old woman with bad arthritis, a five year old girl, a scientist working on the cure for cancer. There is only enough food for all of you for two days. If you throw one member overboard, there will be enough food for a week. Who do you throw off?” Unfortunately, our world runs on situational ethics. Abortion and Euthanasia are two good examples of that; we say that murder is wrong, but we will kill those we consider unwanted. The Joker in the “Dark Knight” attacks the people on that level. At one point, he breaks a pool cue in half leaving a jagged piece for three men to decide who of them was going to get the one open position in Joker’s crew. He gives Batman the choice of saving one of two people. But the best examples of situational ethics are the two moral dilemmas that Joker gives to the people of Gotham.

The first dilemma comes in the movie when a worker at Wayne Enterprises goes on TV to tell everyone that Bruce Wayne is Batman. The Joker calls the program and says that he will blow up a hospital if somebody doesn’t kill that worker in one hour. Of course that is not enough time to empty the hospitals of Gotham. The Joker basically says, “Okay. You think murder is wrong. Well, unless you murder one person, I will kill lots of people.” What happens? The police protect the worker, empty the hospitals, and a last ditch effort to kill the man is thwarted when Bruce Wayne “accidentally” puts his sports car between the police car and the would be killer. The final result, Joker blows up an empty hospital.

The second dilemma is even more direct. Joker puts a bomb on two ferry crossing the harbor. One is carrying civilians; the other prisoners. Each ferry has the detonator to the other ferry’s bomb. If one of the two doesn’t blow the other up by midnight, Joker will blow them both up. Another dilemma, “Kill those people to save your people.” Talk about a life boat test! It’s funny to me who shows up as a hero here. 

The first is the captain of the civilian ferry. After the civilians vote to blow up the prisoner’s ferry, the captain won’t blow them up. When asked why, he says, “We’re still here.” He understands that the prisoners haven’t blown him up. The threat of violence to himself doesn’t sway him. It’s a little weak, but it is a moral stand. He didn’t go with majority rules; he understands that right and wrong are beyond a vote.

The second hero acts differently. He was a prisoner on the prisoner’s barge. He threatens the warden to give him the detonator so he can “Do what you should have done ten minutes ago.” He grabs the detonator and throws it out the window. He takes the high road, puts himself in jeopardy, and does what is right.

This is where all life boat scenarios fall apart. They forget heroes. The people on the barge forgot this too. They didn’t remember Batman. They only thought that the information provided was the only information. Joker was stopped before midnight. He was hanging upside-down with a bat-errang around his ankles and his detonator was smashed. He couldn’t blow both ships; he couldn’t fulfill that end of the life boat test. 

Situational ethics dies in the face of true right and wrong morality. Even though the Joker made it hard, no one had to murder anyone. The true heroes stopped it. People need to realize in the “life boat tests” that a rescue ship can come on day one just as easily as on day five. Circumstances beyond our control can be favorable just as easily as they can be unfavorable. Why does your morality change in the minor heat of circumstance? It shouldn’t. Batman was a hero, the police were heroes, and the convict and the ferry captain were heroes. WHY? Because they did what was right no matter what. (At least in these two dilemmas, in the story’s conclusion everyone decided to embrace situation ethics with a bizarre zeal that undermined the whole point of the movie. {Hollywood is stupid like that sometimes.})  

A major problem with situational ethics is that it requires no external input. Batman thwarted the Joker. The rescue ship was prompt. Each time situational ethics seems so easy and nice a monkey wrench called real life messes it up.  Right and wrong, however, aren’t messed up by real life. Wrong is still wrong and right is still right no matter what. End of story.