So. Joker. I've finally seen it, after all the hype and controversy. And it left a bad taste in my mind afterwards.
From a technical and aesthetic perspective, it was a brilliant film, even if it felt a little too much like a pastiche of Martin Scorsese's work at times. And the plot did a good job of capturing the murky, "multiple choice" history of the Joker that the comics gave him.
What got me were Joker's words in the third act, where he declares "What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him and treat him like trash?! I'll tell you what you get! You get what you fucking deserve!" and shoots Murray in the head.
While Murray (before his demise) tries to counter the Joker, saying that he (Joker) is just making excuses for his criminal behaviour, it felt like a feeble bit of covering lip service meant to paper over concerns about the movie's messaging- lip service that fails utterly when you consider that the denouement of the film is Joker dancing triumphant over a city mired in the chaos and bloodshed he triggered.
Joker's line seems to indicate that this is a fait accompli- that people fitting the correct criteria - Mentally Ill, loner, ill-treated by society- have the potential to snap and rise up like him. To be fair, the film does not intimate that everyone meeting those criteria will end up that way, but it does imply that anyone doing so might- casting a pall on what is already a marginalised segment of society who may already feel ostracised and beset by the "normal" people.
It does nothing to build a bridge of understanding- not really. The Joker is unrepentant at all times, and a monster- as he should be. But the formula they use to construct him- which at first does lend itself to a sort of "sympathy for the devil" scenario- at least until he begins to revel in the carnage - is one that can paint the mentally ill with an unwarranted brush of suspicion and fear.
Look at the increased police presence at the premiere screenings for the movie. Yes, this was because of the shooting at the prior Dark Knight Rises film, but it also fed into a stereotype - look out for the disturbed loner. They may be out to get you. And that's something this movie fed into deeply, not really taking care to distinguish the monster who happened to be mentally disturbed and socially awkward from the everyday people struggling with mental illness who can't relate to society and who aren't monsters.
Now, you can rightly say it's just a movie and has no duty to do any such thing. Perhaps, but this movie in particular has had pretensions of aspiring to be "more" than a comic book movie. It wanted to be taken on its own terms as a piece of art. If so, then it bears the responsibility of art - to illuminate and enlighten, to encourage critical thought - and honestly, while it has a lot of people talking, it sends a very muddled message that does no one any favours.
I can see why the concern over the film exists, and I can also see that it made me worry about The Deranged Loner, and in that sense doing a horrible disservice to anyone who struggles with fitting in and keeping their head level in a crazy, chaotic world. It fomented and fostered a prejudice I should know better than to have.
And that is why I hate it. And myself, for momentarily playing along.
Having successfully invaded both America and Canada from her home base in Windsor, Paisley has become horribly corrupted by the world. She hates active voice and wishes to god Twitter had an edit button. Dedicated to "creating the greatest 'Ship of them all", she ponders horribly terrible, idiotic things for your amusement.