Editor’s Note: Shotgun Reviews writer Lan Pitts was so inspired by the Joker homages in last week’s The Office episode that he sent over a post on the cultural impact of Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight.
by Lan Pitts
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and the most recent episode of NBC’s hit show The Office proves that even more. Creed, Kevin and Dwight all dressed as Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker for their Halloween-themed episode which aired this past Thursday night. Though it was only in the first three to four minutes, it confirmed that Ledger’s performance and the styling of comic’s all-time greatest villain has achieved pop culture icon status. I worked at a Halloween specialty store this year for some extra cash, and it seemed I was giving out make-up advice on how to do the perfect Joker every other hour. And yes, I was one of those people.
It is still interesting to me how people went from curious looks and raised eyebrows in confusion when Ledger was cast two years ago, to now making sure they got their costumes just right and trying to master his voice and mannerisms while in line with their make-up in hand. I had a blast giving out advice and tips and such. I’m a perfectionist myself, and having seen The Dark Knight a lucky 13 times now, I like to think I know my way around Ledger’s performance.
I went to downtown Athens, Georgia Friday for Halloween festivities. I counted no less than 11 Jokers (including the infamous “nurse” Joker). Numerous lists this year named the Joker as their top-selling costume for males young and old. I was six years old when Tim Burton’s Batman dominated the 1989 box office and I remember several kids having their parents buy them this. Though I certainly don’t remember seeing mainstream sitcom characters imitate him. Then again, I probably was too young to be fully aware of the cultural impact that movie made.
Enough cannot be said about Ledger’s performance and the impact it has made, and will likely continue to make on pop culture. It is truly on the same level as Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates, Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, and Daniel Day-Lewis’ Daniel Plainview. I’m sure they are not such hot sellers at your local Spirit Halloween store, and it will be interesting to see how long we see nods to Ledger’s Joker all around us.