Joker: Classic or Hazard By Ryan Lewis


Ryan Lewis, Features Writer

Image by: ”Joker 2019” by Kaexi Ng is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

DC’s stand alone, Joker, had a record obliterating opening weekend, breaking Joaquin Phoenix’s, Todd Phillip’s, and the incredible Robert De Niro’s PB for box office earnings. It took first at the Venice Film Festival for best film and best soundtrack, it has stellar audience ratings and poor reviews from stuffy, old media critics. All abject successes. Though this seems to be a major contender for film of the year in the hearts of many moviegoers, news outlets are raising concerns about the potential audience reaction after seeing Joker . Articles predicting mass shootings mirroring the acts of Arthur Fleck have flooded the news feed. In doing so many of the positive reviews are being suppressed in favor of worry some pieces foreseeing a dangerous future. This overshadowing of a true audiences reaction is nothing new for the film industry’s finest. Some of the most beloved movies, at the time of their release, received massive scrutiny. The Baltimore sun made the “Lion King” out to be some kind of violent slasher meant to scar its adolescent audiences.

Many fear that this film will promote and incite violence. While there is merit in their anxieties, they fail in thinking this is unique to Joker.Looking at other cases prove these fallacious claims untrue. John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan after seeing Taxi Driver , also starring De Niro. He did so in hopes of impressing Jodi Foster, who plays a 12 year old prostitute. In the film. After stalking her for months to no avail, in a final attempt to win her affection, Hinckley shot then President
Ronald Reagan outside of a DC Hilton Hotel. It is clearly not the fault of the Oscar-nominated performances that caused Reagan to be severely wounded. Those who blame the film pay no attention to Hinckley’s diagnosis’s of Schizotypal Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, and Schizoid Personality Disorder, that ultimately led to his successful insanity plea. Had the signs of mental illness been properly spotted and treated, Reagan may never have been harmed. Much like in the movie, Arthur Fleck is not given the proper care after a budget cut shut down his mental health clinic. Had someone cared enough about those suffering from illness, Joker would have been a heartfelt drama, not an origin story. It is irresponsible to blame art for atrocities. Molecular Psychiatry, Science Direct, and Western Kentucky University, all conducted studies on violent media within the last 2 years, and all three found no connection between violent content and aggressive tendencies.

“These same tired arguments are invalid and take away from the more important conversation.””

— Ryan Lewis

Review of The Movie

For transparency sake, Batman is my favorite super hero, Joaquin Phoenix is one of my favorite actors, and The Joker is my favorite villain. This is all before I walked into the theatre. Seeing the first trailer, I was absolutely floored. I counted down the days leading up to October 4th and saw it opening night. I wanted to enjoy every moment of this movie, but I cannot say that I did. Once Arthur died and the Joker was all that was left, I absolutely loved it. As a comic book villain this Joker is on par with the best, but seeing all that took place to lead up to curtains being pulled back, I felt gross enjoying the incredible joker moments. Before I continue, Joker gets an 11/10 from me. It is beautiful. The journey it takes you on starts you feeling bad for Arthur. His life is miserable, he is abused by his environment, and does not deserve to be left in the alleys the way that he is. It then slowly makes you begin to despise him for the evil he commits. His first killing (SPOILER ALERT) in the train can be debated as justified, but following his other attacker, then brutally murdering him isn’t. The dance he does following it only further shows his snap to full insanity. All of his following wicked acts feel the same. As a film, this is a heart wrenching story about a man who was turned into monster by a grim, forgive me, society. As a comic book flick, it pulls back the Murray Franklin Show curtain and shows the disgusting genesis necessary to create our TV/movie villains. This mix is what forces the audience to leave the theatre feeling off put. Personally, I believe art that draws out a visceral reaction is what advances us. Being out of our comfort zone is what enacts change. If a movie has to be violent to force us to acknowledge mental health as a serious issue, then so be it. If you are a comic fan, the last 10 minutes is for you. Phoenix is a magnificent Joker. If you want to experience a dark origin that is beautifully shot, scored and performed, watch Joker.