Joker: Looking for Outrage and Panic

Joker: Looking for Outrage and Panic

Joker: Looking for Outrage and Panic

Last night, I dragged my husband to see Joker. The movie’s release was fraught with drama and panic even before its theatrical release (much like the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017 prompted calls for impeachment even before he took office). It will inspire gun violence! It will glorify mass shooters! It gets mental illness wrong!

These histrionics are not only unfounded, but pathetically searching for a way to foment outrage and panic where there is none. Of course, it gets mental illness wrong. IT’S A COMIC BOOK ORIGINS MOVIE!

Fears are building over the Joker movie, scream the media outlets!

Who is afraid? Why? Who is stoking these fears? For what purpose?

The families of some victims of the Aurora shooting are using their loved ones’ tragedy to demand that the movie company atone for the “sin” of this movie by giving money to support their political gun-grabber agenda.

Instead of calling for a boycott or ban, the families and friends of victims are asking Warner Bros. to end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform; use its political clout to lobby congressional leaders for gun reform; and fund survivor funds and gun violence intervention programs.

“Since the federal government has failed to pass reforms that raise the standard for gun ownership in America, large companies like Warner Brothers have a responsibility to act,” the letter reads. “We certainly hope that you do.”

The “sympathetic origin” story of the Joker gives them pause, they claim.

Joker has traits of real serial killers and mass murderers, others mewl. It incites violence!

Joker is too sympathetic of the comic book villain, yet others claim!

“Incel shitposts are making people nervous about the Joker premiere,” claims leftist shitpost factory Vice.

And other media outlets have been reporting increased security at movie theaters for the premiere.

The outrage and panic about possible violence because of this movie is a self-licking ice cream cone. The more the grievance mongers squeal about the Joker inciting panic and fear, the more their histrionics do just that.

In reality, Joker is an origin story that is unclear. We do not know whether it is Arthur Fleck – the Joker in the movie – who becomes Batman’s arch-nemesis. Another rioter in a clown mask in the final scene kills Bruce Wayne’s parents, setting in motion a series of events that transform the little boy into the Caped Crusader.

Arthur Fleck himself, in fact, is a pathetic, inadequate, blundering assclown.

He bumbles through life in 1980s Gotham City, barely able to put a coherent sentence together, feeling sorry for himself, delusional about his abilities as a standup comic and his qualities as a human being.

Any incel (for those of you not steeped in crazy culture, the term means “involuntarily celibate” – an online community of wretched wankers who couldn’t get laid if they crawled up a chicken’s ass and waited) who takes his inspiration from Arthur Fleck would be roundly ridiculed.

As proof, I offer you the bumbling clownshoe who tried to shoot up Jews in a synagogue in Halle, Germany last week and who was ridiculed by 4Chan monkeys for his homemade weapons, for his halting English, for his inability to enter the synagogue (the doors were locked) to kill more people.

Joker doesn’t glorify violence, but rather condemns it through the absurd vessel that is Arthur Fleck.

Fleck isn’t brilliant, as Heath Ledger’s Joker was. He isn’t charming, as Jack Nicholson’s Joker was. He is a tortured, bumbling incompetent, who desperately wants to be a good person and spread joy, but descends into madness, under pressure from a lethal combination of a mentally ill mother, severe abuse and possible traumatic brain injury as a child, and society’s cruelty toward its weird, freakish, impoverished, unattractive, and unpopular members.

After Fleck is attacked by a bunch of teen savages in the performance of his duties as a street clown, a co-worker surreptitiously hands him a gun for self defense. At first, you see Arthur Fleck act empowered by the tool, dancing around with it, pointing it all over the place like a monkey with a new toy. And then, the doofus negligently discharges the revolver into the wall of the tenement apartment he shares with his mentally ill mother. Undaunted by that fail, Fleck conceals his pistol and brings it to a clown gig he’s doing in a children’s cancer ward. As he dances, the gun falls out onto the floor, shocking everyone in the room and causing Fleck to be fired.

I cannot imagine any mass shooter would want to be this incompetent!

We have discussed the role of bullying in school shootings after the Parkland massacre. It is a tragic state of affairs when children are so abused, ridiculed, and outright tortured by their peers, that they feel their only option is mass murder.

Joker, courtesy of: Antman on Flickr; CC 2.0

Arthur Fleck is similarly abused by society – from the teen savages who beat and kick him, causing massive bruising all over his emaciated frame, to the three arrogant shit weasels on a train who kick and beat him for being weird, for having an uncontrollable laughing condition, for being skinny and meek and wearing clown make-up in public (he was returning home from the hospital gig after being fired), to the cruel woman on a bus who screams at him to leave her child alone after he tries to make the little boy laugh with funny faces.

Yes, there are parts of Arthur Fleck that are sympathetic – the abused, delusional man, cruelly treated or outright ignored, the almost childlike manner in which Fleck unsuccessfully tries to somehow spread joy and laughter among members of a miserable society that mistreats him, and the lies he believed all his life that come crashing down around him when he discovers his own origins.

But Joker – the name he takes after a smarmy talk show host, played by Robert DeNiro, gets a hold of a video showing Fleck desperately trying his hand at standup comedy and pathetically failing and publicly ridicules him on his popular program – is hardly inspirational and never less sympathetic as when he loses it and mows down the three rich jerks on the train, stabs an abusive coworker with scissors, or shoots the DeNiro character on camera for daring to condemn his violent reactions to the maltreatment he experiences at society’s hands.

Joker does not want attention, like many of the mass murderers. He seeks no public support for his actions, and he wants no adulation from those with similar views like the Halle, Germany, numbnuts. He has no political views to speak of, and he has no desire to inspire. In his own, twisted way, he still wants to spread laughter and joy in the world, but realizes that ultimately, the only thing that he can do is watch the chaos he helped foment unfurl in all its insane glory. Finally, he becomes an incidental symbol of unrest and popular discontent. He doesn’t strive for it, but he does enjoy its effects. He is not an anti-hero. He’s a sad opportunistic malcontent with nothing left to lose.

That’s about the only way his character can be viewed as “sympathetic,” but even that sentiment is tempered by the incredibly unlikable, unappealing, and useless Joker personality actor Joaquin Phoenix creates.

The movie is well done, brilliantly acted, and relies on cinematography and lighting, rather than overdone special effects, to bring this character to life.

Phoenix lost 52 pounds in preparation for the role, and the close-up shots of his poorly made-up face, crooked teeth, yellowed by chain smoking, cigarette-stained fingers, and skeletal frame are disturbing and repellent, rather than inspirational in any way.

But the social justice zealots have to have something to be upset, outraged, or otherwise terrified about, so they chose Joker and began beating their usual drum to embarrass and shame the creators of the film to acknowledge their grievances and ultimately either give money or publicity to their cause. They cannot fathom a world in which there’s nothing to be aggrieved about, so when they are faced with a lack of outrage, they create some.


Featured image courtesy of Pixabay; cropped, resized; Pixabay License

Written by

Marta Hernandez is an immigrant, writer, editor, science fiction fan (especially military sci-fi), and a lover of freedom, her children, her husband and her pets. She loves to shoot, and range time is sacred, as is her hiking obsession, especially if we’re talking the European Alps. She is an avid caffeine and TWD addict, and wants to own otters, sloths, wallabies, koalas, and wombats when she grows up.

  • zenman says:

    This movie seems on par with “Taxi Driver,” which could be why Scorsese made the recent remark who “comic book” movies are “not cinema.”

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      I can see a little bit of that in there. My husband disagrees with me here, but I can see some of the Dark Knight environment and atmosphere. it really is a quality flick – whether you like or read comics or not. It is a character study of a man – it’s not even clear whether he is THE Joker or not.

      • zenman says:

        Thematically, from the wiki for Taxi Driver:

        “Set in a decaying and morally bankrupt New York City following the Vietnam War, the film tells the story of a lonely veteran working as a taxi driver, who descends into insanity as he plots to assassinate both the presidential candidate for whom the woman he is infatuated with works, and the pimp of an underage prostitute he befriends.”

        1 – decaying, morally bankrupt city
        2 – loner
        3 – fixated on the “powerful”
        4 – descends into insanity
        5 – gets firearms and does bad things
        6 – remakes themselves physically before the finale breakdown

        I do agree with your review. It’s a great stand along movie and not your typical super hero/comic book movie. I enjoyed the movie, though I need to go see it again, they sent me to the wrong theater and I missed some of the beginning. The character study was the most intriguing bit of the whole thing.

        After watching my initial thought was, if there are any “copycats” they wouldn’t be shooting up the movie theater, they’d be shooting up the rich and power, or try to be the hero protecting others. Which is what I believe Finch was doing on the subway aka Bernhard Goetz. The subway broker bros were harassing a woman before Finch started laughing, only then, when the woman was running away, did the attention get turned to him.

        I find it interesting that, for real world violence, we’re told we need to empathize with the perpetrator when the perp is a certain economic/racial class, but here in a fictional movie, about a poor, white man, we are told its beyond the pale.

        Having empathy for someone doesn’t mean you can’t still hold them at fault for their choices. Deranged or not, Finch made choices to let some people go.

  • Yup says:

    In the comic books, Joker didn’t kill Batman’s parents, a random thug named “Joe Chill” did so the fact that Arthur Fleck Joker didn’t kill Batman’s parents doesn’t imply that Fleck doesn’t become the real Joker.

    • Marta Hernandez says:

      Other movies have implied this, and this movie leaves it intentionally vague. Personally, I think that based on the utter incompetence and ineptness of the character, that it’s unlikely.

  • Chiv says:

    The racial grievance industry may have been outraged because the riot scenes showed mostly white rioters. Hence blacks were underrepresented. Also the clowns had white masks. What could be more racist than that? Incidentally, all the whites, with the exception of the dwarf, were shown as unsympathetic characters. All the blacks, with the exception of a woman on the bus, were shown as rather decent types.

  • corkyboyd says:

    I saw the movie 2 days ago. My first reaction was Fleck should have been in an insane asylum and not roaming the streets. The attempt by the black woman to protect her child from a weirdo is a natural reaction for anyone riding a bus or the subway in NYC/Gotham. The movie, however, tried to paint her as unfeeling sub human. As the movie went on, I wanted to leave, but I still had popcorn and my wife wanted to stay. The people in front of us did leave. In a single word I would describe the film as sick. It attempted to portray a downtrodden individual as worthy. human. It failed to do that.

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