7 October 2019

Why So Serious?

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I went to a stand-up club the other day in which people who weren't famous were allowed to jump on stage and try out their new material. One such character was a young man with blacked-out eyes, a beating stick, and a hand-puppet. He said that his name was Lynda. I remember this because he opened with a three-minute song in which the only lyrics were “Lynda's coming out to play” repeated over and over again. He then used the hand-puppet as an excuse to sexually assault one of the men on the front row. If I'm honest it was probably the most terrifying few minutes of my entire fucking life. Not a bad night out though. In many ways, this entire experience is sort of what I think the new Joker film was going for. Both Lynda and the Joker film involve a mentally ill person expressing themselves through comedy as the audience sits on the edge of its seat and watches a psychological fucking breakdown take place. I suppose that the difference is that nobody is suggesting that Lynda might be worthy of any future awards and I'd also be pretty surprised if anybody cited her as an influence in their upcoming fucking shooting spree. 
Despite nobody having asked for it, the world has now delivered a Joker origin story from The Hangover director Todd Philips and that has nothing to do with the DC Extended Universe. So this is nothing to do with the Ben Affleck Batman films that we've been getting and it's supposedly nothing to do with the Robert Pattinson Batman films that we're about to get. It's pretty much just it's own little thing. All alone. Nothing else around it. A loner. Just like most of the sad bastards that are no doubt about to start wanking on about how good it is. Here Joker lives alone with his mother, misunderstood by everybody around him, angry at how the world has treated him, and ready to start fighting back. He's a poster boy for all of those grubby little incels and future mass shooters that are sat at home with nothing but their furious rage and their untouched chipolata boners. If you're the kind of person that hated Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman because their vaginas made you feel insecure about being the pussy that you are, then Joker is the movie for you. But just because the wrong kind of people are about to like a movie or even use it as a justification for their real-life violence doesn't mean that movie should, therefore, be condemned right? A friend once complained to me that he had a sore finger to which I asked what he'd done. He told me that he'd, “put it in a pencil sharpener and then twisted it”. It's incredible how quickly you can lose sympathy for a person at times and so I just told him to be grateful that he hadn't tried that with his dick. The point is though that, as with a movie that has been appropriated by a violent or unjustly angry mob of online village idiots, it'd be unfair to blame the fucking pencil sharpener. 

On March 30th, 1981, John Hinkley Jr decided to pop a bullet into the lung of the then-President Ronald Reagan because of his mad bastard obsession with the movie Taxi Driver. I mean, it's a good movie to be fair, but I think I just celebrated having seen it by having a cup of tea and a fucking cupcake. I told my friend about how great my night had been because of this to which she told me that I needed to “get a blow-job”. Nobody blamed the film for Hinkley's demented plan though because you'd have to be a fucking fruit loop to begin with to view its deranged lead character as being an aspirational figure. I do like his vagina-style haircut to be fair. The end of that movie is also specifically designed with an ambiguity that implies its crazy old main character might actually still be lying in a pool of his own blood and dying. So if you're a deranged psychopath that's tooling up for a kill-spree after watching your favourite movie then you know... check the subtext, you fucking dipshit. By contrast, my issue with Joker is that at no point does it really do anything to counter the view of its crazed lead character. When we're introduced to him we feel sorry for him because of how badly the world is taking a collective dump onto his face. As he uses this self-pity to begin committing his various atrocities though, a sane person will feel repulsion because we know that what he's doing is abhorrent. But if you start from a position of identifying with him then the film absolutely glorifies his actions to the point that it more or less concludes with him being worshipped in a Christ-like pose. Although with Trump and Johnson as the current American President and British Prime Minister, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised to see people worshipping a fucking clown right now. 

Interestingly though, this idea of putting Joker on a pedestal might, in fact, be one of the few valid defences of the movie. There's no doubt that over the decades, people have taken to liking the character and even rooting for him to commit as much anarchy as possible. This is especially true of the incel committee already. It's not hard to see why either, when you consider quite how anti-establishment he is, as well as being free from the burden of giving a solitary shit about anything. He's like Bill Murray if Bill Murray stopped turning up at random peoples parties and having fun and just starting murdering them instead. The issue of this idolisation of Joker is completely forgetting the fact that he's the fucking bad guy. The people that he kills are usually innocent victims and the sole focus of his obsession is a rich man with a fetish for latex. The argument in defence of the film is that it shows this man to be nothing more than being a pitiful piece of shit that couldn't possibly be idolised by anybody and then asking, “Is this really who your hero is?” The downfall of this argument, of course, is that by depicting him in this way you've accidentality just made him relatable and sympathetic to the kinds of people that you're trying to make your point to. There's also no doubt that when Joker starts killing all of the people that have wronged him, the film doesn't exactly condemn this sad little man as much as unleash him. It shows no negative consequence to his violent actions and even puts a woman that won't sleep with him in the same evil bracket as the crueller people that make fun of him. You can almost hear the greasy fapping of the incels as they stroke themselves stupid as the film goes on.

Of course, none of this has been helped by the director Todd Philips who has spent most of the films press tour whining like a little bitch about how 'woke culture' has destroyed comedy. Although in a year that fellow director Taika Waititi is releasing Jojo Rabbit, a comedy set in Nazi Germany in which he'll be playing fucking Hitler, I'm not sure how true this is? I think that what Philips means is that he's no longer able to have every single punchline simply be the word “fag”, in which case, fuck him. But even lead actor Joaquin Phoenix had to walk out of an interview when asked about whether the film might inspire real-life violence because the question apparently just hadn't occurred to him. So I'm not saying that the film is directly pandering to these incels and mass shooters intentionally but rather that it's just too dumb to have seen what it was doing itself. If we ignore all of that though and treat the film as a single piece of art in which the views of its makers are irrelevant and the actions of its fans completely separate I suppose the real question is simply is the film any good? To which the answer is, yeah I guess so. It's okay. Although that's a lot of caveats that we've had to include to be able to enjoy it. It grounds a comic book character in a completely real world in the way that Unbreakable did (and better) almost twenty-years earlier. It has a good performance from Phoenix at the centre although I'd argue that he was way more nuanced and impressive as the traumatised hitman in last years You Were Never Really Here. And it's also nice to see a modern-day movie pay tribute to Scorsese's underrated masterpiece King Of Comedy. Even if this tribute doesn't seem to realise that the celebrity-obsessed lead character in that film was actually the fucking villain. 

Of course, it'd be nice to read this back in years to come and discover that nobody had subsequently hurt anybody and claimed it as their inspiration. And even if that does take place, the real cause will be the individual involved and the failing of both gun control and mental health care and not that of the film. That later point regarding mental health is even something that is constantly referenced in the movie, although it does then unfortunately also propagate the notion that a mentally ill person is only a few missed pills away from going berserk and fucking capping people. I agree that mental health services need more investment and applaud the film for highlighting this fact, it's just that it's a point that is slightly undermined by then revelling in Joker's cathartic murders as he does a celebratory dance to the pump-up, fun time tunes of Gary Glitter, the glam-rock nonce. Joker is a well-made film and I'd be lying if I said that I'd hated it, but it's fully let down by its muddled, if not slightly problematic, message. I fucking love Raiders Of The Lost Ark but if there was a moment in which Indy turned to Marion and stated, “You know I kind of admire these Nazis”, and then the movie continued unchanged and that was never referenced again you'd still feel pretty uncomfortable as a result. That's even if he was only referring to their dapper uniforms and not the mass fucking genocide. At the very least you'd still wonder why it had thrown them any kind of bone whatsoever. Well, that's pretty much what this Joker was like for me except it's not actual Nazis, it's raising a knowing eyebrow to, but the online ones that haven't felt the inside of a vagina since their own fucking birth. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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