Opinion by MaggieMantini
Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a film about an alienated individual, whose embrace of revolutionary evil becomes a kind of integrity. It has been argued that “Joker” has glamorized a killer, but it simply holds a mirror to society. This R-rated movie involves so many angles of current public debate such as guns, mass shootings and mental illness; it resembles the dark reality of our world. It is simply a masterpiece not everybody will be able to properly digest.
Arthur Fleck, our Joker, wrestles with himself to conceal his evil and demented tendencies. The framing of this film is an origin story, which is causing audiences to feel that they should sympathize with the Joker. We watch him grow up experiencing pain and abuse. However, even the parts of Arthur’s origin that are revealed to us are subject to personal interpretation and question.
The Joker’s character embraces viewers’ lack of comfort; we are supposed to be left feeling uneasy, but the moment scary entertainment seems too similar to real life, people feel that the director has gone too far. Art, whether it be in cinematic form or not, can depict things problematically depending on current social circumstances. However, we can’t decide what is “right.” We can only establish how we personally feel.
Arthur Fleck’s alienation derives from real life problems such as social inequality, political corruption, feeling like an outsider and television shows. His character channels something so otherworldly, it is hard to pinpoint just one reason he is the way he is.
People have argued that the film has the potential to inspire acts of real-life violence and make psychosis seem admirable. They are mistaken. Society itself is so full of endless immediate causes of violence and toxic behavior.
“The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t,” Arthur wrote in his notebook during one scene. It is not the vague representation of mental illness in Arthur Fleck that leads him to violence, but rather the treatment he feels he receives from society.
Yes, the Joker’s reactions are largely overdramatized, but this is simply an exaggeration of just how much power we have over one another.
“Joker” holds a mirror to the harsh reality of society: the way we treat one another, the way we lash out at one another and just how easily a lack of established respect for one another can result in violence. Arthur Fleck becomes a living, breathing manifestation of evil. He reaches audiences in a real light, inflicting true and lively fear. We hate that we can’t escape it.
The Joker is a villain, much like our Darth Vader from Star Wars or Voldemort from Harry Potter only this time, our villain is rebelling against real societal issues. So, remember how much these villains excite you before you create such a negative analysis of “Joker.”