Monday, January 26, 2009

The Joker Did It!

It must be difficult to report on tragedies; especially tragedies that involve kids. You have to report the facts, yet do so in a way that is sympathetic to those who have lost so much but at the same time avoid the sensationalism that it is so easy to drift towards. Unless, of course, you write for the Daily fucking Mail, in which case you should grab any floating rumour and print it as fact.

Take this factoid about the terrible nursery killings in Belgium:

The knifeman, said to have a history of mental illness, wore a bulletproof jacket and make-up similar to The Joker in the Batman films.
Really? Did he wear that sort of make-up? If he did, what bearing does that have on his crimes? If he didn’t, or if you aren’t sure, why report it?

And… guess what; the make-up may not have been that much like the Joker as the Mail first suspected. As they themselves are now reporting.

Ten other children, including a one-month-old baby, were knifed by the man who had smeared black and white warpaint on his face and sprayed his hair red.
Let’s just remind ourselves of what the Joker looks like in the films. This, this and this. White face paint, green hair. Not black and white make-up, except for a little bit around Heath Ledger’s Joker’s eyes. Not red hair. Small, yet essential, details that renders the reporting in the first article absolutely incorrect. But, and let’s be honest about this, The Daily Mail printing shite is nothing new.

But let’s stop for a moment, an posit a “what if.” What if this killer had been wearing Joker style make-up? What difference would that make? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the direction The Daily Mail would have taken this in. Ban the filthy Dark Knight - before our kids get killed too! Except there is nothing in The Dark Knight that might make even an unbalanced person attack children. Even though the Joker is utterly psychotic in the film, he doesn’t (according to my memory at least) threaten children directly. One of the characters – Two-Face – does, but the nursery killer doesn’t seem to have burnt off half his face to be like that fictional entity.

Put simply, The Daily Mail added a comparison to their article on the murder of children and babies that managed to both be wrong and irrelevant. Such are the standards of journalism in our favourite hate rag.

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