“The Irresponsibility of Joker”: A Look Into How The Movie Is Scary For Different Reasons Than You’d Expect

Joker Movie Scariness Of It Review Quirk Feat Image

I’ve never felt as uncomfortable in a theater as I did when I watched “Joker” on a Friday evening. There were external factors that contributed to my unease. People were concerned about the movie inciting gun violence. Numerous past incidents, including the Aurora and the Isla Vista shootings, became reminders of what could happen. 

Although I can’t separate my experience from the fear of potential violence, I don’t know if I would’ve felt any differently if I had walked in blind.
 
I don’t believe that movies are directly responsible for heinous acts done by people, who choose to do them, but I can’t deny that some movies can exacerbate certain people with a toxic view of the world. 
 
The truth is there was a reason for all the worry. There was a reason why the theater I went to had seen it necessary to post a warning next to the usher stating that “Joker” was not a typical superhero movie. 
 
And it wasn’t. (Spoilers ahead) 
 
Joker Movie What's Scary About It
 
The movie itself is well made. Well shot and performed. Joaquin Phoenix immerses himself into Arthur Fleck, an unfunny comedian with a condition that results in uncontrollable laughter. Phoenix’s face contorts in equal bouts of melancholy, anger, and self-pity. He’s incredibly captivating and makes it hard for you to look away. 

That seems to be part of the problem.

The movie has the look and feel as if it was done by an auteur and demands to be taken seriously. But when it is, the movie begins to feel fragmented. The themes that it presents are many, but hang loose.
 
When the social services Arthur uses to get his medication loses its funding and Thomas Wayne decides to run for mayor of Gotham, politics seem to play a big part in Arthur’s transformation. When Arthur is beat up by teenagers and then by a trio of drunk white collar workers, certain social groups are to blame.
 
When Arthur finds out that his mother has lied to him and his favorite late night TV host ridicules him, it’s parental figures that need examining. 

The truth is there are many details in Arthur’s life that have contributed to his transformation, but at the end when he’s championed by mobs of oppressed people, it doesn’t add up. 

The Joker is portrayed as an antihero, not the villain that he is. He receives the attention he’s sought his whole life by committing a heinous crime on television. An array of TVs show news coverage of the Joker and replay the horrible crime over and over for the public.
 
The Joker dances and performs on top of a crushed police car for the people he’s inspired to riot and loot Gotham. He’s cheered on.
 
And that only added to the fear of my viewing experience.
 
It is the reason for concern at every public event. At best, the movie’s ability to make one feel unsafe can create more awareness to the many issues that it points out: poverty, violence, and mental health.
 
But the film lacks a self-awareness in the current climate.
 
The birth of the Joker doesn’t seem to be avoidable, there are too many factors out of our control and there’s nothing we can do about it. Sadly, that feels accurate. 

The problem of the movie is that the filmmakers have done their best to portray the Clown Prince as, if not understandable, then plausible and worse, laudable. 

Yet, the movie is still part of the DC universe and when the Joker is finally locked up in Arkham, we can rest assured that it’s just an elevated comic book movie. 
 
After the movie had ended, I expected to find some reprieve because it was over. Instead, I heard a few sparse claps coming from the row in front of me. Some people were in awe of what they had just seen and there could’ve been many reasons why.
 
Many aspects of the movie were good, but in my cynicism, I imagined they were clapping for the Joker himself and how real he felt.
 
How he could jump out of the screen at any moment.
 
Featured Image via Joker Movie
 

Let’s talk about the complexities of this film on the Quirktastic app. I’m sure there’s a lot to be said!

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