OKAY. So. Watched The Dark Knight for the first time the other day. Lots
Now, just in case there's the vague chance of ANYONE out there reading this who HASN'T seen it yet and despite the fact they haven't seen it yet DON'T actually want to know anything about the movie in case they DO see it in the near future, don't read ahead? Or I might accidentally spoil you? I dunno, I don't think what I'm going to talk about is really going to devastate any plot twists anyway.
So there comes a point in the movie where the Joker, having fun messing around with the city's inhabitants, sets up a diabolical 'social experiment' featuring two boats. On each boat is a bomb. Also on each boat is the switch to set off the other boat's bomb. The conditions of the scenario are thus: at midnight, the Joker will blow up both boats. However, if you blow up the other boat before midnight, then your boat survives. Pretty simple, and no 'nice' way out. Now, of course, this is superhero world, where it actually is possible for one dude to come along and save the day for everyone.
But let's say it's not. Let's say that we don't
have any reason whatsoever to believe that it's in any way possible for everyone to survive this scenario. Now, the creative part of my brain wants to imagine that something wonderfully heroic and self-sacrificing is possible... like, find the bomb on MY boat, find some way of setting MY bomb off, get all the passengers off and safely into the river, then blow up my boat. Nice. Noble. Yeah. But again, let's say that's entirely not possible. Let's say the only physical possible outcomes are those that the Joker has lined up.
In the film, nobody can bring themselves to press the button and blow up the other boat. Nobody can do it. The other members of my household appear to also defend this position as the 'morally correct' one. It seems to suggest that surely only a monster
of a human being could be responsible for the explosive destruction of the other boat. But I'm not convinced. Nobody wants to get their hands dirty, so everybody dies? I dunno. What I
see is the option to at least save HALF the people in mortal peril. Yeah, blowing up the boat is a horrible, terrible thing to do. What a hideous thing to be responsible for! But by NOT pressing the button; by maintaining some sense of personal integrity or whatever, by REFUSING to tarnish my poor precious hands, I'm as good as blowing up all the people on MY boat. If I do nothing
, we're all dead anyway. If I do something
, I save half the people. This fact doesn't change if the switches are reversed and the choice is to blow up your own boat, either. Yeaah, I dunno. I'm just not convinced that refusing to set off the bomb is as flawlessly, squeaky-clean morally perfect as first impressions might suggest.