In 2008’s The Dark Knight Alfred turns to Bruce Wayne and says ‘Some men just want to watch the world burn’. This surmising of the motivations of the Joker highlights for the audience the fact that this is a criminal that has no reason, no focus or desired outcomes. It is existentialism gone too far.
A dramatic statement, sagely given it is. Complete it is not. It should read ‘some men, but mostly five-and-a-half-month olds, just want to watch the world burn.’
A couple of weeks ago, my child was a normal gurgling baby. He was cute beyond words. Would smile at passers by. Giggled when you pulled a silly face.
My suspicions were first raised when I was left to look after him whilst the wife went to the shops. “Don’t just watch films and play Playstation” she said with a raised eyebrow. “Perish the thought dearest lily of my heart” I said ushering her out of the door “an educational experience awaits him that holds no bounds.” She raised the other eyebrow which should have made her look surprised but actually just made her look more disbelieving.
Anyway, we got bored of Call of Duty after an hour and so decided to watch Star Wars.
Now I’m aware that Star Wars has moments which might create fear in one so young. I was most concerned about the moment Darth Vader first make his entrance. Smoke billows, laser fire ricochets, the music booms in non-diegetic darkness. And then the reveal, the black cloaked figure, taller than everyone else in shot, juxtaposed against the crisp white of the ship’s interior. I looked down at the boy to make sure that he wasn’t terrified; to reassure if he was.
He was laughing.
Who but the mentally disturbed laughs at Darth Vader? Since then his anarchic tendencies have only increased.
He actively grabs and drops things just to watch them break, a huge gummy grin plastered across his face as he does so. At home this is annoying, in public it is a) expensive and b) makes other people raise their eyebrows at our parenting skills.
But, as with most sociopaths, he is charming. His massive dribbly smile generates a chorus of ‘awwww’ wherever we go. He giggles at the right times. Looks vaguely puzzled when he sneezes. Does the frown into laughter thing. All delivered with calculated efficiency to generate the greatest amount of attention possible.
Which is fine until that attention stops. Then it’s time for an ear splitting screech which can be heard by everyone in a three kilometre radius. How something so small can produce a noise so loud is surely defying the fundamental laws of the universe.
But his actions aren’t limited to being just antisocial. Now it’s spilled over into wanton criminality. When we last went to the hospital for jabs I was sat next to a lovely Australian lady idly chatting the waiting time away. I looked down at the boy who I assumed was happily sat on my lap. He was, but he was also elbow deep in the lady’s handbag, pulling out her purse and phone and smirking to himself.
We have bred a sociopathic kleptomaniac whose overwhelming compunction is his own satisfaction. He is Ayn Rand reborn.
Like the Maasai of East Africa believing that God gave them all the cattle in the world, in my son’s eyes everything is his and deserves to be grabbed, chewed and then thrown forcibly to the floor. This includes toys, cutlery, plates, cups, glasses, the cat, his mother’s hair, our food, flowers, the other cat, DVDs, Playstation controllers, baby rice, important documents, marking, mashed banana, iPhones, books and other people’s stuff.
There is only one logical conclusion. My son is a nihilist, he has clearly refuted society’s norms and carved out his own moral code. One in which, for his amusement, he would gladly watch the world burn.
If he can find a bit that isn’t soaked by dribble that is.