Before its release, a tempest of arguments surrounded “Joker.” Would the movie cause violence by glorifying the story of how an everyman became a killer and Batman’s greatest nemesis?
On one side, some psychologists argue that the movie’s character study will educate society about mental illness.
Writing for Psychology Today, neuroscientist Bobby Azarian says the comic book character Arthur Fleck turns into a killer and villain called the Joker only “after he is bullied, beaten, and humiliated by others.”
Writing for Deseret News, professor of pop culture Kendall Phillips disagrees: “Once you start getting into the head of, you know, the sociopath, the anti-social person, the revolutionary, that’s when we suddenly think that this image of violence can be inspiring to the wrong kind of people.”
Both these views agree on a central point: “Joker” represents the world as someone who commits a mass shooting might see it.
The storyline differs from previous films in the Batman canon because it paints the universe—at least the DC Comics universe—with the leprous white of the clown’s makeup.
The R-rated movie’s first principle is that nothing good can ever happen to Arthur Fleck, brilliantly played by Joaquin Phoenix. As Fleck attempts to brighten people’s lives as a clown, everyone responds with wooden-cutout rejection.
If he teases a kid, the mom angrily tells him to leave. If he performs on the street, every passerby makes snide remarks to him in a rough New York accent. “’ Ey, Clown, you ain’t even that funny! Haw, haw, haw! How’s that?”
Fleck gets mugged and his boss won’t believe him or notice the Jackson Pollock painting of bruises covering his body. TV comedians make fun of him.
If there had been a scene with a pet shop, all the puppies would bite his fingers with all the cruelty in their pint-sized hearts. The list goes on.
No one in Gotham City, from affluent swells to street thugs, has anything better to do than beat up Fleck.
Ringing any bells with our digital society today?
In the whole “Joker” movie, poised to break box office records with $93.5 million it’s opening weekend, Fleck receives just one choice: Will he destroy the world by killing himself or by killing others? You know the rest.
“Joker” succeeds only in expressing a common sentiment of our times—a universal indictment of society without nuance, charity, or counterpoint: “No one listens!” “Everything is corrupt and should be destroyed!”
The movie really brings an insight into how one should look at society and treat people.
Source: National Interest