If you didn’t get the chance to see Joker, stop reading! If you continue, you’re doing it at your own risk. The 1 billion dollars blockbuster will give us a shocking lesson. When a cruel society forgets its humanity, all that’s left for the most fragile individuals are negative thoughts.
It really isn’t surprising the film is a 15 on the age rating scale.
The movie contains a lot of physical violence, cruelty and tobacco use, among others. Some even say this film is dangerous and incites violence. However, I’m of a totally different opinion. Far from doing a review, I’ll try to explain what makes this film a cinema masterpiece and a lesson for human civilization.
Our main character is Arthur Fleck, a human exactly like every one of us. Arthur has his dream, just like us.
He wants to make people happy through laughter and joy, in the only way he knows. He cracks jokes and has a job as a clown. The problem is that he also suffers from a syndrome that causes him lo laugh uncontrollably at random intervals, regardless of what emotional state he’s in.
There are a lot of people who’ve been abused during childhood, and Arthur is one of them.
Even though he was abused and raised in poverty, in a single parent family, Arthur continues to make his peers happy. Throughout the story, Arthur is constantly bullied, physically and psychologically, by those who take advantage of his innocent and kind nature.
Almost no one among those who interact with him respect Arthur. They ridicule him.
Not even the employee of Social Services, the one who prescribes Arthur his pills and is paid to consult him, doesn’t really support him. She always asks the same questions: ‘How are you feeling? Did you have any negative thought?’ When Arthur learns that the state funding for his pills has been cut off, Arthur responds to the lady: ‘You don’t listen, do you? You ask me if I have any negative thoughts. All I have are negative thoughts.’
Hopping on the metro during a late night, Arthur sees an abuse scene. A girl is disturbed by three guys who make advances to her, but she refuses and leaves for another compartment. He starts laughing uncontrollably, and the trio interprets the gesture as mocking.
Arthur tries to pull out his card that explains his medical condition but is immediately thrown to the floor.
He is brutally hit, punches and kicks crushing his fragile body, and, while on the ground, he seems to remember the other abuses he had suffered. The face of Joaquin Phoenix here seems to transmit to the audience the pain that followed the clown throughout his entire life. The audience just remains silent.
This is the moment when Arthur Fleck disappears and from inside him emerges Joker, a monster created exclusively through the effort of a cruel and ignorant society.
Arthur pulls out a revolver that he received as a gift and the audience’s breath is heavy as suddenly, one of the drunkards goes flying by the punch of the bullet. The other two try to flee but are immediately executed by a traumatized man who is tired to be a nobody to everyone. In that moment, my own inner child who was bullied during childhood exclaimed (You deserved that!). I never was physically abused, but that didn’t stop me resonating with Arthur. I was almost convinced that crime was justified in this case. But we don’t need to fall for this trap. This is not what we should learn from the movie.
We have a part of Arthur Fleck inside all of us, smaller or bigger, but it exists. Maybe you’ve been physically or psychologically abused, or maybe you’ve been bullied because of your medical condition.
Maybe something that you felt was yours by right was taken away from you. Perhaps someone didn’t believe in your dream, or worse, stole it from you. If you consider you don’t find yourself in any of these situations, then I congratulate you. Maybe you had a perfect life from your point of view. But don’t forget, maybe you know an Arthur Fleck. Step in his shoes, empathize with him, don’t break his wings.
This is what I think we all can learn from Joker. We don’t need to love the antagonist, we don’t need to feel like violence is justified. On the contrary.
Joker warns us that there needs to be more compassion, support and fairness in the world. Otherwise, we’ll fall into the darkness and dehumanize ourselves. Don’t destroy the dream of those around you. Help them achieve their dreams. Don’t mock those weaker, because their wounds may never fully heal. Don’t isolate someone who suffers from a medical condition, be it physical or mental, because they will feel like they don’t belong. Also, don’t physically or psychologically abuse out of pure amusement and evilness, because someone fought to raise that soul, and they have all the rights to live. Help Arthur Fleck not become the Joker.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye. To ignore what bothers us.
It’s easy to switch channels if the content shocks us and our bubble of happiness. We often choose to live in ignorance, because to open your eyes means to realize that you need to actively make the world a better place. And that takes effort, compassion, humanity. You can choose humanity, or you can choose ignorance. If you chose ignorance, you don’t have the right to feel angry when a monster dressed as a clown comes to your talk show and murders you. Never forget that you played your part in his creation.
Author: Adrian Muntean