This post will contain massive spoilers, do not read further if you haven’t seen the movie. If you have or don’t mind, enjoy.
For starters I will just say that I enjoyed this movie like very few. It immediately became one of my close favorites. I’d say half of the movie was made by the music, and other half by phenomenal Joaquin Phoenix. Both were captivating, hitting right in the heart. Those two alone are enough to keep my enthusiasm all time high.
Among other things, I also loved how different this Joker was from the comic books and other movies. In this unique approach to the character, it showed the person behind the legend, and the legend with its origin itself, that had really nothing to do with the character. This isn’t a hero movie. It’s a movie about one quite tragic life and critique for the current US social and healthcare system. I loved how it showed the randomness of becoming the legend. It took one mad person, without touch with reality, media “shock” coverage, and society that needs a revolution.
That being said, I really don’t understand the reception it got. I was informed that there is something controversial about the director, but I don’t know who he is or what he says, so my opinion is based purely on the movie alone, and on my feelings.
For instance, the accusation that supposedly Joker is the hero meant for incels. It’s important to know that there are two kinds of incels. The first type is simply a social outcast. The kind that doesn’t get any attention, any love, is invisible at best. At worst they are victims of abuse and bullying.
The second type are the emotionally stunted boys, who never grew up, and never developed to really see other people as truly people. In their heads they are the only people of depth and intellect, everyone else is merely a cartoonish caricature of a human. Two dimensional NPCs. They only care about what those people have that they want, or what they could be provided by them. Mainly narcisstic supply. When it comes to intellect, they are walking examples of Dunning-Kruger effect. They see everyone else as dumb, because they have no idea how dumb and immature they are themselves. They see nothing wrong in letting their frustrations out on people, they approve of terrorist attacks to make the normies pay. They despise women, and call for sex slaves, or social system to guarantee everyone a woman to mate with, as if women were merely a resource to be exploited.
The fact that the second type of incels relate to the Joker, it’s not Joker‘s fault. These guys know no empathy, and no emotional depth. They don’t even see Joker for what he is, they see in him what they saw in all previous Jokers (in movies and comic books) – a random criminal edgelord. Society is bad, because it’s making them feel bad. That’s it.
And giving someone relatable to the first type? I don’t see a problem with it. Hell, I found Joker relatable. Some scenes hit home closer than I’d want them to. If you were never bullied, never attacked for being unable to stop an uncontrollable laughter attack, treated as a freak, invited to parties just to be the main joke of it, ridiculed for everything you do, treated like a scape goat or a punching bag, not really human, mocked for your mental illness and social disfunction, while you never could relate to anyone or anything that was happening around you your whole childhood, raise a hand. If not, please do understand that there are lots of people who lived through these experiences. They are not violent, but they may hold a grudge, be full of anger and frustration. And it’s normal.
It’s unfair to those people to perpetuate the stigma that they are some crazy, angry people. Giving them a relatable character is not wrong. Those people are not violent by default. If they lash out – it’s not an excuse, but it is to be understood. We should always strive to understand the cause of things, especially bad things. And until we stop shying away from showing what bullying and social exclusion leads to, this will only make things worse. We need more stories like this. I personally knew more bullies than the bullied in my entire life. And Joker rightfully shows that. Something is really wrong with society where most people are bullies, or silent approvers of abuse. Barely anyone ever helps.
When I was in primary and secondary school I was talked to and treated like a person only when nobody was watching. They didn’t want to get caught talking to the freak. I was polite to them and helpful, did my best to be pleasant. Didn’t work, when I was publicly bullied again, none of the few ones who talked to me were eager to stop it, or offer help. They just looked away at best, at worst joined the lynch. Frankly, to this day if my anger meets misunderstanding, and I hear complaints that I am unnecessarily cruel (just with my personal thoughts and feelings, I was never violent or openly hostile towards others), I get even angrier, and further isolated mentally from the society.
Victims’ internalized anger is not the root of the problem. It’s only a result of one.
My experiences aside, this Joker was what you could say is one of the most tragic lives to be seen. Handicapped, deformed, mentally ill abuse victim, mocked by his whole world. Losing touch with reality, denied proper healthcare. Left to deal with it all by himself, without any support, while having to take care of a narcisstic, delusional mother. Never given the chance to develop, to live on his own, to socialize, never understood. With disordered brain that made him disfunctional, and unrelatable to any normal person. Never loved, treated like a freak.
To sum it up, the first type of incels that I mentioned, I can see relating to this. Lonely, maybe ill, social outcasts. The point is, the movie nowhere calls for the violent ideology behind the second type of incels. Nowhere it blames women as a whole, nowhere it says women should be hated, and while it explains Joker’s violent outbursts, it never excuses it.
It also shows that there never was any ideology behind the Joker. He was merely a forever child, trapped in his disfigured mind and body, looking for any act of kindness, any approval, any respect or love. And he never dares to ask for it, he only wanted to be treated normally. There was no entitlement. Everything he said, it was never intellectual. He was a functional illiterate, wording himself poorly and oddly. Still always trying to be the good, polite boy. Everything he did was a result of his emotions that he could not bear anymore. He became the legend purely symbolically thanks to how his first attack, an outburst of rage triggered by yet another case of bullying and abuse, was portrayed by media.
It was not Arthur who created the Joker. He was a victim of his own mother, and then of society. It was the media, and people’s hopes for a leader to finally set them loose, to abolish the system. Leaders of revolution are always legends, and almost never persons. Often not important, often misunderstood. The movie was heavily inspired by V for Vendetta. It was about the idea. Joker’s story was another focus, but his life was merely accidentally tangled in the grand scheme of things.
I’d also like to appreciate the fact that the movie directly showed New York in the past, but winks to the audience, suggesting that indirectly it’s about what is happening right now. Anyone caught the big Trump statue in the croud chanting ‘kill the rich‘?
I’ve also heard that the movie was liked by anarchists. I will only comment – if you call yourself an anarchist and you believe that anarchy is an actual goal, instead of a temporary state, a revolution to abolish the bad system and create a new one, you’re a fool. Anarchy shown in the movie was just that – a revolution that aims to abolish the system that hurt so many people. What the movie didn’t show, and I don’t think it needed to, is that afterwards you always develop something better. Or worse, and then there’s another revolution. But there’s still always a system. Abandon all hope those who have it, permanent anarchy is just something that is not happening. I’d say it’s comparable to incels trying to claim Joker as hero. Lack of understanding or capacity for it, that’s all.
Yes to revolutions. No to the idea of mindless chaos.
I also don’t believe that works of art should be dumbed down and made literal so that everyone interprets it correctly. Idiots will always find a way to see their narrative in just anything, we should not censor art in futile efforts to stop it from happening. As I said, I see nothing wrong with the movie narrative.
Just regulate the damn guns.
I’ve also heard an opinion that it’s harmful to portray an abusive mother as the reason for Joker growing up to be so miserable, and at the end violent. That completely ignores the fact that it is often true. Nobody is saying that women are evil. They are simply human, just as men are, and they can be abusive. To ignore this fact is pseudofeminism, a nice cloak for misandry, and attempts to purify women’s image. Always the victims, always good. This is simply untrue and I see no reason why we should charm reality with fake images to undo some harmful stereotypes, replacing existing ones with new.
Stereotypes are always limiting, and never correct. If we try to remove the narrative of abusive women, we are adding to stigma to victims of abusive mothers. One of the results is that female pedophiles are rarely if ever detected and sentenced. Leaving their victims alone with their suffering.
Last thing regarding women and incels, I also heard that the neighbor thread was somehow wrong. I simply can’t see it. There was nothing degrading, Arthur simply was delusional, looking for company, and when he realized his delusion and realized that she is afraid of him, he left. He wasn’t imposing on her because of being an entitled brat, he was actively psychotic, but never meant harm to her.
People seem to despise and fear incels so much, they sometimes forget why. It’s one thing to fight male entitlement, violence, and objectification of women, and another to treat all awkward social outcasts as plague.
Edit: I was informed that some incels largely hated the movie because of leftist propaganda. You can never win.
I also want to show my appreciation for Hildur Guðnadóttir. She is an amazing woman, a fantastic composer, and I think that the internal life of Joker was brought out to the viewers mainly by her. Her music was the only narrative he needed. I must see Chernobyl, because I am curious if the soundtrack she composed for it will also sweep me off my feet. With music like hers the movie could be garbage, I would still be delighted to watch it. I am utterly amazed. This music just speaks to me on all the levels. I’ve added all of the tracks I found so far to my Background music, and Classical music | OST playlists.
And last but not least – Joaquin Phoenix.
I cannot get over how great his performance was. He was simply perfect in all ways. I saw the movie twice, second time I was even more hypnotized than the first. I wish I could elegantly word it up what a fantastic actor he was. I will have to just content myself with a regular fangirl rant. There was something beautiful, tragic, and creepy about him. Awkward and elegant. Feral and innocent. Tortured and carefree.
As my final note:
Get this man an Oscar.