Heroes and Villains in Postmodernism

Topics: Batman, Postmodernism, Kurt Vonnegut Pages: 13 (4748 words) Published: September 20, 2013
Heroes and Villains in Postmodernism
The perfect (maybe) word to write about in Urban Dictionary because everything you say about it is encompassed by it. So if I were to say that Postmodernism is a goat, I am of course, right (left). If I say that Postmodernism is an art movement based on the unsurity of a declining art market of the 90's, I'd be correct (whatever that means). Eat your Captain Crunch, look at a Madonna video and drink a glass of Tang. Reality is media. Reality is simulation. Life is Art.

Definition of “postmodernism” in Urban Dictionary

Postmodernism is a creative movement that is said to have originated in the 1950s. As the name suggests, it is the successor of modernism, and the development of postmodernism is visible in not only literature, but also other creative disciplines such as architecture, music, fashion, film and painting. Postmodernism was created as a reaction to its predecessor, and its “rational, scientific, and historical aspects”. This results in postmodernism being self-conscious, ironic, and experimental, concerned with the instability and unreliability of language, and with epistemology, the study of what knowledge is. In saying this, the purpose of postmodernism is not to shock the bourgeoisie world, as the avant-garde movement arguably does, but to challenge it- both by reducing it to its natural state, and by seeing how far it can be stretched beyond its existing ideas. Postmodernism does this by introducing deconstruction and disintegration to question our ideas of certainty, identity and the truth; and by the use of hyperreality, pastiche, bricolage, recurring characters, irony, authorial intrusions, non-linear narrative and self-reflexivity to bring more attention to the world outside of the text as a part of the world inside it. There is a true breakdown of what we know to be true, what we expect, and what we are able to believe, and this is certainly reflected in the depictions of heroes and villains within postmodernist texts. This investigation looks into the role of heroic and villainous characters in postmodernist texts, the aspects of the postmodern world that is portrayed by these characters and how they developed, in relation to the societal and political changes that were gasoline to the flames of postmodernism. The characters that will be used to investigate this are the superhero Batman, and one of his arch-nemeses The Joker, using the films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, both directed by Christopher Nolan, and the graphic novels Joker written by Brian Azzarello, and The Killing Joke, written by Alan Moore; Shrek from the film Shrek, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson; Billy Pilgrim from the novel Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut; and Patrick Bateman from the novel American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. These texts represent the wide-ranging reaches of postmodernism, including both what people may class as “literature” and “mass culture” as distinctive examples of postmodernism. However, in studying these texts, it is clear to see the disordered nature of postmodernism by the creation of the antihero- a protagonist who lacks the traditional heroic qualities, who is flawed, who the audience is ultimately able to recognise themselves in.

How do the texts themselves reflect postmodernism?
The literary label of “postmodernism” can be applied liberally, and encompasses a large number of texts, with differing postmodern qualities found in each one. However, over the range of texts that is being investigated in this report, there are some aspects that stand out more clearly than others. As this report focuses on heroes and villains within the texts, we will firstly look at the texts that were used to analyse the characters of Batman and the Joker. The texts used to study the Batman include The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Joker, and The Killing Joke. All of these texts are set in the fictional city of Gotham, New York, which is a postmodern...

References: Accessed on 26/07/12
Azzarello, Brian (writer), Bermejo, Lee (artist), Gray, Mick (illustrator).] (2008) Joker
Nolan, Christopher. (2005) Batman Begins, Warner Bros. Pictures
Accessed 14/07/12
Nolan, Christopher. (2008) The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. Pictures
Accessed 14/07/12
Vonnegut, Kurt. (2003) Slaughterhouse Five. New York: Harper Collins.
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