In their essay, “Should Batman kill the Joker?” New York Times writers Mark D. White and Robert Arp observe that many messages and topics in pop culture can also be seen in the real world. They show this by referencing three real world ethic principles and applying them to the fictional topic of whether or not Batman should kill the Joker. The authors reference utilitarianism, deontology, and virtue ethics, weighing the pros and cons of killing the Joker. Utilitarianism would favor killing the Joker because the Joker would be one life lost, but killing him would save many others. Deontology would argue that killing someone is morally wrong, regardless of the positive outcome. Virtue ethics would highlight how killing the Joker would affect Batman’s character and morals. They then apply those arguments to the real world, to the topics of torture and terrorism.
The authors’ purpose is to make connections between pop culture and the real world in order to make the audience see very controversial topics in a different setting. By doing this, the audience will hopefully take a more objective look at things such as torture and terrorism. Making connections between fiction and the real world can help us form our own opinions on issues instead of being swayed by the media and popular opinion. The authors write in a neutral tone, providing positive and negative points for both sides of the argument. They write to an audience who most likely already have an opinion on the matter. They don’t try to change their opinion, they try to broaden the reader’s thinking.
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