Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

"Why so serious?"

Cripping Camp Performance in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2013), 7, (3), 305–320.

Abstract

Using as a case study Christopher Nolan's blockbuster film The Dark Knight, and building from recent work on disability and humor, the article explores the disabled body as a potential site of camp performance and outrageous parody. The Joker's sartorial flair and his commitment to style over substance, it is argued, construct him as a variation of the Wildean homosexual dandy whose superficiality is politicized as a form of queer resistance to both capitalism and the institutionalized hierarchies of the state. Furthermore, the crip dimensions of the Joker's drag performances - and in particular, the narrative agency with which he continually destabilizes the origins of his facial scar - extends that camp sensibility beyond sexuality to explore disability as performative process rather than a pathological state. Developing a concept of disability camp not only helps us to shake up the representational terrain of both queer studies and disability studies, but also provides new and exciting opportunities for theorizing the intersections of disability, humor, and performance.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Albrecht, Gary L. "Disability Humor: What's in a Joke?" Body and Society 5.4 (1999): 67-74. Print. Disability Humor: What's in a Joke? Body and Society 5 67 74 Google Scholar

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." Google Scholar

Clare, Eli. Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation. Cambridge, MA: South End P, 1999. Print. Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness and Liberation Google Scholar

Corker, Mairian. "‘Disability’ - The Unwelcome Ghost at the Banquet…and the Conspiracy of ‘Normality.’" Body and Society 5.4 (1999): 75-83. Print. ‘Disability’ - The Unwelcome Ghost at the Banquet…and the Conspiracy of ‘Normality.’ Body and Society 5 75 83 Google Scholar

The Dark Knight. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and Aaron Eckhart. Warner Bros, 2008. DVD. Google Scholar

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997. Print. Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature Google Scholar

Haller, Beth A. Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media. Louisville: Advocado P, 2010. Print. Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media Google Scholar

Hughes, Holly. Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler. New York: Grove P, 1996. Print. Clit Notes: A Sapphic Sampler Google Scholar

Kuppers, Petra. "Image Politics without the Real: Simulacra, Dandyism and Disability Fashion." Disability and Postmodernity. Ed. Mairian Corker and Tom Shakespeare. London: Continuum, 2002. 184-97. Print. Disability and Postmodernity 184 97 Google Scholar

Linton, Simi. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. New York: New York UP, 1998. Print. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity Google Scholar

Longmore, Paul K. Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2003. Print. Why I Burned My Book and Other Essays on Disability Google Scholar

Love, Heather. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2009. Print. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History Google Scholar

McRuer, Robert. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print. Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability Google Scholar

Mallett, Rebecca. "‘Choosing ‘Stereotypes’: Debating the Efficacy of (British) Disability-Criticism." Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 9.1 (2009): 4-11. Print. ‘Choosing ‘Stereotypes’: Debating the Efficacy of (British) Disability-Criticism Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs 9 4 11 Google Scholar

Mallett, Rebecca. "Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability?" Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal 6.3 (2010): 5-13. Print. Claiming Comedic Immunity Or, What Do You Get When You Cross Contemporary British Comedy with Disability? Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal 6 5 13 Google Scholar

Meyer, Moe. "Introduction". The Politics and Poetics of Camp. New York: Routledge, 1993. Print. The Politics and Poetics of Camp Google Scholar

Mitchell, David, and Sharon Snyder. "Narrative Prosthesis and the Materiality of Metaphor." The Disability Studies Reader. 3rd edn. Ed. Lennard Davis. New York: Routledge, 2009: 274-287. Print. The Disability Studies Reader 274 287 Google Scholar

Quayson, Ato. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. Print. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation Google Scholar

Reid-Hresko, John, and D. Kim Reid. "Deconstructing Disability: Three Episodes of South ark." Disability Studies Quarterly 25.4 (2005). Web. 20 May 2013. Deconstructing Disability: Three Episodes of South ark Disability Studies Quarterly 25 Google Scholar

Robillard, Albert B. "Wild Phenomena and Disability Jokes." Body and Society 5.4 (1999): 61-65. Print. Wild Phenomena and Disability Jokes Body and Society 5 61 65 Google Scholar

Sandahl, Carrie. "Bob Flanagan: Taking It Like a Man." Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (Fall 2000): 97-104. Print. Bob Flanagan: Taking It Like a Man Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism 97 104 Google Scholar

Sandahl, Carrie. "Queering the Crip or Cripping the Queer? Intersections of Queer and Crip Identities in Solo Autobiographical Performance." GLQ 9 (2003): 25-56. Print. Queering the Crip or Cripping the Queer? Intersections of Queer and Crip Identities in Solo Autobiographical Performance GLQ 9 25 56 Google Scholar

Shakespeare, Tom. "Joking a Part." Body & Society 5.4 (1999): 47-52. Print. Joking a Part Body & Society 5 47 52 Google Scholar

Shapiro, Joseph. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement. New York: Three Rivers P, 1994. Print. No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement Google Scholar

Sontag, Susan. "Notes on Camp." Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject - A Reader. Ed. Fabio Cleto. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1999. Print. Camp: Queer Aesthetics and the Performing Subject - A Reader Google Scholar

Stockton, Kathryn Bond. Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where "Black" Meets "Queer." Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2006. Print. Beautiful Bottom, Beautiful Shame: Where "Black" Meets "Queer." Google Scholar

White, Julia. "‘Krazy Kripples’: Using South Park to Talk about Disability." Building edagogical Curb Cuts: Incorporating Disability in the University Classroom and Curriculum. Ed. Liat Ben-Moshe et al. Syracuse, NY: The Graduate School, Syracuse University, 2005: 67-76. Print. Building edagogical Curb Cuts: Incorporating Disability in the University Classroom and Curriculum 67 76 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Barounis, Cynthia