It’s a weird cross-over that I want to make a professional presentation dressed as Batman’s Harly Quinn (the full suit version from the 90’s cartoon). I want to talk to the managers in the company and stand up and say, “Hello puddin’!”
And then talk about manipulation of emotional intelligence. We all do it to some degree or another. In my professional life I talk about emotional intelligence (EI) on a regular basis. Not always in the terms of EI, but helping managers read body language and use their body language – that’s emotional intelligence. I find it harder to always apply it to my writing, but I certainly try.
And really, Joker is terrifying because he IS so manipulative. Not just the latest iteration of Jared Leto (and whatever sick writer made him… might be my hero). Joker has always been a sick manipulative terror of the night, and the relationship portrayed with Harly is to me just a manifestation of that manipulation. She was his shrink. She was supposed to be keeping a distance from him, but he manipulated her with his usual mixture of lies and truths and drove her psychotic (sociopathic? something where she is slightly disconnected from empathy and reality).
The best books for my taste are the books where characters have a slight level of EI (can read body language imperfectly) but they don’t dwell on it and rarely (if ever) manipulate each other. Except maybe the villain. A manipulative villain should have crazy-strong EI. I can cite probably 5 examples of this level of manipulation in literature, and they make awesome and terrifying villains.
Hell, Twilight could have been a million times better if there had been some of this conflict. It felt insipid because none of the characters were liars. Oh, there were a few who told lies – but when someone was evil they said they were evil. No one said “I love you” unless they meant it! A better conflict would have been for someone to say those three “precious” words and they were a lie. And part of the growth would be learning that emotional intelligence…. just saying there could have been some realistic depth to the characters – people lie!
I am highly aware of EI partly because I am writer, but also because it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I tend to take trust people’s words. I’ve had to learn to read body language partially because I trust too much. It is a hard line to walk between “I want to trust” and “I can’t trust anyone” in this world and that is the knife’s edge which can make for an excellent plot.