I think this is, like, the third fanfic I’ve ever written? I don’t remember if I ever put the others anywhere anyone else could read, but I’m putting this one here. Like my most of the fiction I’ve ever written, this is very short and sprung more or less fully imagined into my head all at once.
It sprung from thinking about Harley Quinn and the evolution of her portrayal over time. And, of course, about Mark Hamill’s amazing Joker Laugh.
This is adapted from a thread on Mastodon where I originally posted this, but I wanted it somewhere less ephemeral. The thing is, most more modern portrayals of Harley (and probably most folks’ mental image of her because of video games and movies) is very sexy and fairly objectified. But for me, the quintessential version of Harley is the one from Batman: The Animated Series, which is apparently also where she showed up first.
Latter portrayals have tried to adapt her for more “adult” audiences by making her outfit skimpier, but that’s a miss. As I wrote on Mastodon, “[in] order to make Harley Quinn more adult, more mature, don’t dress her in skimpier clothing. Make her a real character. Show us that the Joker is a capricious (psychological) abuser and that she’s desperate for his attention and approval. Show us how she’s a victim and a creator of victims. Show us how she’s weak. Show us how she’s powerful. Show us how she’s flawed.”
So, yeah. The fiction, then. Content Warning: Psychological abuse. Try, if you can, to hear the voices as performed by Mark Hamill and Tara Strong.
Something I Could Do
Harley surveyed her wardrobe. It wasn’t really a wardrobe on account of her and Mr. J were currently holed up in an abandoned toy factory. In fact, it was a steel pipe suspended from two steel poles held up by car wheels.
But that was fine by her because it was all the best clothes: every single item was a red and black jumpsuit, fitted just a tad at the waist with a bit of lace at the ankles and wrists, and a wide, spiky collar like a jester at the throat.
She’d already painted her face, so she slipped into her costume, donned her jester hat (for a while she’d pinned up her hair, but now she kept it short and it was so much less hassle), slapped on her domino mask and left her room with a spring in her step.
Outside, Mr. J was lounging and scheming in one of his great purple and green suits. He was scheming, she could tell: his long, lanky legs were up on the table, he was tipped back in a chair and he absently sucked on a lollipop with a distant look in his eyes and a slight smirk.
“Mornin’, Mista J,” Harley said and went to grab a bowl of cereal. Mr. J didn’t reply. Holding the empty bowl and box, her heart fell. She put them down and walked around to him.
“Mista J,” she said more loudly to get his attention, “Is… is there somethin’ I could do? Somethin’ I could change to… uh…” She faltered, not wanting to beg him out loud to love her. “Maybe if I dressed differently? Showed a little… ah?” She pointed at her chest and upper thigh, “Or grew my hair out? Pig tails? Like a… like a naughty school girl?”
“Oh, Harley,” Mr. J said in his joyful lilting voice, swinging her into his lap with an avuncular chuckle and cupping her face gently in his hand, “There’s nothing you could do to make me love you more!”
Then his mood turned. She spotted it in his eyes the moment before he squeezed her face too hard and smeared her perfect flat white paint. “On the other hand,” he said much lower and like gravel, almost as an aside rather than to Harley, “There’s nothing you could do to make me love you more.” He pushed her face away and stood up, nearly dumping her straight on the floor. He strolled off to do something else entirely, cackling to himself.
“Oh,” Harley said to the empty room, “OK.”
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