I took it upon myself to watch this for Craccum, like Orpheus descending into the depths of Tartarus, but with the knowledge that there was no Eurydice I would find there. Thing is, what was most surprising about Joker was how average it was – as much as irresponsible media outlets might want a mass shooting to happen because of the movie, this feedback loop isn’t really relevant to Joker. To me, the hysteria surrounding Joker just sounds like another massively successful marketing campaign to drum up what would otherwise be a rather subpar Todd Phillips movie. The more I think about it, the more clear cut it seems, and that textbook manipulation is far more interesting than the movie was. As much as irresponsible media outlets might want another John Hinckley/Jodie Foster situation to arise out of what amounts to a Taxi Driver shitpost, it is the idea of Hollywood managing to situate Joker in months of #discourse, essentially free advertising, prior to the movie’s release that is the real achievement.
And I mean, there is certainly much to discuss. It is incel cinema, though in a more detached, ‘society, eh? Wow’ kinda way. It doesn’t swallow the red pill entirely – the titular character is never misogynistic as much as just entirely self-pitying, and the focus is more on class issues and one man’s descent into calculated villainy because of Rich People. It’s a weird movie – the discourse centered around whether it was friendly to incels, but the movie’s issues lie more in how, if anything, it’s very friendly to the idea that you have to be a very sick person to want a level of self-determination in a world run by the wealthy. Despite all pretenses of being on the side of the downtrodden, it’s a script by Warner Brothers, so. That’s the thing that I took most from it: the right of reclaiming your autonomy and protesting, and eventually rioting against, corruption, being intentionally linked to an irredeemable killer, an out and out lunatic. As if you have to be pathologically sick to want more from your life. Maybe that’s the point. But if it is, it is very sloppily achieved.
But that’s the woke discourse done. Phoenix himself was an undeniable masterclass, as he tends to be, and god help me, will probably be considered robbed by the masses if he doesn’t win Best Actor. My money is on Brad Pitt, but the Academy loves a narrative, and giving an Oscar for the role Heath Ledger also won for just seems too tempting for them to ignore. Hopefully he doesn’t die beforehand. As for the rest of the actors, there’s not really that much room for them, as this is Joaquin Phoenix’s show. They all did their job at worldbuilding, being just the right level of arrogant, decrepit, innocent and detached as their characters require, being the perfect storm to send this man right over the edge. So, in terms of performances, they all save the movie from being a complete joke.
I think the biggest slap in the face, and probably the single biggest insight into what Todd Phillips was aiming to do with this movie, was the inclusion of Gary Glitter, convicted paedophile, on the soundtrack. The guy’s conviction has been known for decades, and was one of the few cases of a ‘70s rock icon having their predilections catch up with them, so this was intentional. Phillips has been outspoken in his claims that the world is Just Too Soft; that Political Correctness is ruining the culture; that you just can’t be funny anymore and that art has had the life sucked out of it by ‘outrage culture’. This is the guy that made the Hangover movies and nothing else of note, and it reads very much like a bitter old guy just being mad that the Twitter demons won’t let him call people slurs anymore, lol. Maybe because that is exactly what he is mad about, according to at least three interviews where he rants on about the reception to the third Hangover movie, and how people have seemingly forgotten the masterclass execution of his art. So, the inclusion of Gary Glitter seems like an intentional fuck you, and gives an insight into the edgelord intentions of the movie. How passé.
If you’re gonna see Joker, bring a friend. Wait for the part where Joker talks about #society, and then cheer and throw the popcorn around. That’s the movie.
4/10: Taxi Driver for pewdiepie subscribers