Hi! October has arrived, and I like to celebrate not only the cooling-down effect of Fall, but also the scarier things in life with Halloween being right around the corner. Each post made in October will feature either a subject tied to the month, Fall in general, or fear. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Are you scared of clowns? Personally, I remain only slightly unsettled by them after years of horror movies (namely the original adaptation of Stephen King’s “It”), the recent ruse of public scary clown depravity, and a general distrust of anybody trying to convince me they smile that big all the time.
But, the outcry against the Todd Philips-directed, Joaquin Phoenix-starring title movie The Joker, seems to have little to do with a fear of clowns. Instead the fear seems to circle around how this fictional character, whom started existence in comics back in 1940, will inspire fanboys to execute violence in his name. Specifically, white men are being targeted with this particular fear. The likelihood is high that even CNN is only looking for hate-clicks by bringing forward this narrative, but it managed to cause a call for the movie to be banned from US theatres.
The other side of the argument is that we’ve seen similar villains in movies for years. Hannibal Lecter, Jigsaw from the Saw movies, and Alex de Large of A Clockwork Orange fame are just a few off the top of my head. The idea that a bunch of white dudes will suddenly turn violent because of a reportedly slow-moving Joker film is laughable, and if someone DOES get inspired, well…
The hate clicks didn’t cause a ban of the movie however. Instead, The Joker laughed at early low-earning calls by grossing $234M worldwide, ahead of last year’s off-comic movie Venom. People wanted to see this movie despite loud warnings of nigh inevitable violence in movie theatres upon its release.
Movies are an art form that can, and do, inspire people. Much like music, paintings, prose, and poetry. They’re supposed to. Why we would look at this movie and cluck about how it might inspire violence, rather than ask why or how the movie is relevant to today, is beyond me. This movie showcases mental illness at, possibly, its worst. Not because mental illness itself is bad. Rather, it showcases how the rest of us are villainous by ignoring it, and in some sectors we’ve proven the movie’s hypothesis.
Instead of looking at it for what it is, people are supposedly trembling in fear of a non-existent white-man clown laughing as they die. No. The rest of us are laughing cause it’s not going to happen, especially because of a movie whose title character has been on the big screen several times before.
Thanks for reading! James’ dark-fantasy novel, Of Blood and Blade, is available on Amazon. Of course, face paint is also available, so there’s that.
2 thoughts on “The Joker Movie Laughs at Forecasts of Violence”
I just saw it last night, and I thought it was brilliant. Amazing acting, a masterclass in storytelling through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, and a bleak homage (in some places, straight copy/paste) of Scorsese classics, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. The movie asked some tough questions, directly asking what society’s role is in the creation of a character like Joker. Also, in the negative space, it highlighted the importance of empathy and compassion.
As to the fear of the movie…
We live in interesting times. If you look at the mass shootings we’ve endured for the last several years, they are almost always white males, and almost always with messages of feeling disenfranchised or put down upon. These are men that, pushed beyond their breaking point (as they see it), they take justice into their own hands, pick up a rifle, and start shooting at the people they think are the cause of their problems (often minorities).
This is not to say that ALL white males are problematic, trigger-happy sociopaths one bad day from shooting up a church or a Wal-mart. However, the domestic terrorism we’ve suffered the last several years has a common look.
Before going into the movie, Arthur Fleck looks like a disenfranchised white put down upon by society, and therefore justified in his brutal response. From that perspective, can you see why people might be afraid?
It’s not that we haven’t had characters like this before. I think the main character from Falling Down has a lot in common with Arthur Fleck. A series of terrible events leading a white male protagonist to break from the rules of society and seek personal revenge against a society that’s done him wrong. Yes, we’ve seen this before.
Unfortunately, if we learned anything from Charlottesville, we know that there are a lot of folks out there that will look upon Arthur Fleck and see themselves in the injustice that character endures. They will see the character finally, after being ridiculed, beaten, and threatened, rise up and stick it to the people that earned his ire. The fear is that these people will see in Arthur Fleck a hero and be inspired to act. And yes, these people are mostly white males because that’s the demographic that marched in Charlottesville, the demographic that’s been throwing Nazi salutes, and the demographic that has been emboldened most during this Presidency.
But anyway, I thought the movie was brilliant.
Yes. The demographic is white males when it comes to domestic terrorists. However, to create an entire narrative around this movie that something bad WILL happen in an effort to stem possible viewers is also reprehensible. In the end, nobody did take up arms the day of release. I seriously think it’s on CNN’s head if someone does decide to use Fleck as some kind of hero. Not the movie, not guns, and not even previous shooters. The rally against this movie felt like these people wanted something bad to happen so they could say “See? White people bad.”
I will be going to see this movie. Not because of or in spite of the controversy, but because all I hear is how good a movie it is. It’s been a while since an astounding movie came down the pipeline. I don’t want to miss out.
And let me just say thanks for visiting and even more so for commenting. I appreciate that very much!
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