JOKER OR THE SOCIAL ILLNESS

Last night I dared to see the movie Joker (2019). I kept avoiding it as a drama that I imagined might be hard for my sensitive emotional mats to swallow.

JOKER OR THE SOCIAL ILLNESS

JOKER OR THE SOCIAL ILLNESS

After watching it, I went online to read two reviews of ours and was stumped. One belongs to Cristian Tudor Popescu, a well-known film critic, and I find it completely inappropriate. The theme of depth is gracefully lost. He has an interpretation shaped by a conservative perspective typical of the restless intellectual elite. He fits the message of this movie like a nut. And the other one, which belongs to a journalist, is hilarious in the psychologization of him. Highlight the psychological trauma of the character and the mistreatment of the mentally ill mother, and the rest, nothing, zero, nichts, nothing. (Can you see my smile?). Clinical psychologist glasses offer so little here. The theme of the film goes beyond a simple reading in a clinical key.

The movie has such an obvious social justice flavor. It's so obvious that it burns your taste buds! By comparison, it's not so obvious in Parasites (2019), another outstanding film. By the way, who are the parasites? The answer comes from the social class to which you belong. In fact, "social justice" seems to me an exotic concept here. I'm afraid it's (almost) non-existent for the upper class.

The scenario intertwines the events of the Joker's life with the condition and rebellion of the "clowns" or ordinary citizens, defenseless and neglected, against an indifferent System populated by emotionally inert, indifferent, arrogant and empathetic individuals. Sounds familiar?  

Clowns represent that disadvantaged social category, discriminated against and treated with contempt by the System. In fact, we have an unfair system in the sense that it favors the powerful and eliminates any possibility of improvement for many, disadvantaged or sick. After which, they perversely justify their inhuman behavior by attributing their guilt to them: they don't want to work, they don't want to take advantage of opportunities, they are not smart and hardworking. The big and strong never wonder for a moment that perhaps the social context is against all the smallest, weakest and lowest on the social ladder. Social reality is not the same for most. A society is said to suffer from social inequality by favoring the strong at the expense of the weak.

There are those "clowns" who don't work, don't take advantage of (hey!) the opportunities. Get another job, right? After working 10 hours a day on buttons. We invite our case where the median (not that misleading average of official statistics) of income in this country is around 300 euros. It means that 50% of the population of this country earns less than 300 euros! If you do a "shopping cart" calculation, you'll find that almost half can't afford it. Where is the welfare  of manyie a decent life that freely covers that shopping cart? In any case, "clowns" are docile and forgetful. That's right, some sad people. They have almost nothing to do, being too poor, uneducated, helpless and sick. Although, if a civil society has become docile, on its knees, then the state becomes too powerful in a tyrannical sense.

The character Arthur Fleck (also known as Joker), played masterfully by Oscar winner Joaquin Pheonix, has a murderous demeanor just like the Joker from the Batman movies. But he is a completely different character. He's a different kind of Joker, not a sociopath, even if he does have a history of abuse by his apparently mentally ill mother. Although interpretable, his mother's abuse and illness could be a set-up by wealthy Thomas Bayne, presumably his father, to escape the complications of a romantic affair and the responsibility of parenthood.   

Arthur Fleck has a neurological condition. He laughs compulsively in scary and stressful situations. It's a laugh of despair and then it turns into one of defiance. Because Joker is a prototype of "clowns", those mistreated, fearful and desperate people because of an unfair System that treats them with contempt when he manages to see them. Otherwise, they don't exist.

Joker laughs uncontrollably and nervously and kills something controlled. He chooses the targets for him. They defy, take revenge and thus violate social and moral norms as a sign of violent protest against the unfair and abusive System, which supports the depravity of the privileged for the mere fact of belonging to the upper social class (the subway scene with the three men in suits but gratuitously violent with him, the clown).  

The film proposes a symbolic reparation to the social hopelessness of the "clowns". It is a film about social disease, about how the great rich of the world sneer at the suffering of many. Laughing at the Joker is a symbolic and appropriate response. It is loud, almost violent in tone, and uncontrollable. It becomes a weapon of defiance and scorn as Arthur Fleck seizes control and escapes "learned helplessness" in a foolish world, indifferent to the suffering of his struggle to live his life the right way. He undergoes a transformation. Become the Joker. He appears lucid almost unreal, though he also hallucinates. And we don't know, at some points, if he really is (or isn't) in a lucid or psychotic mind. However,

The last scenes of the film are the key. The dialogue with the producer of the show, De Niro's performance and the final scene, when he climbs on the hood of the car, after being carried away by the other clowns, dances and paints the blood from the corners of his mouth with a pencil in a wide smile, defiantly calm and victorious. Joker represents a protest.

It seems to me a film that cannot but arouse his empathy for his condition. If you have an open mind and some sensitivity, you can't help but suffer with the Joker. Even to gloat, even if socially undesirable, at their acts of violent rebellion against a brutalized System. Somehow deep down you feel that he is right and worth the price.