Why is the joker one of the most controversial films of 2019?
Because it’s a disturbing masterpiece.
Unless you have been living under a rock then you will have probably heard of one of the most notorious films of 2019, The Joker.
Looking back on previous Joker films, you see how the Joker is always portrayed as the Villain and batman the hero. After taking to the most critical form of social media (Twitter), I researched the Joker and read something that really struck a chord.
“Childhood is when you idolize Batman, Adulthood is when you realize the Joker made more sense”.
Throughout the movie we see how facing trauma in childhood can lead to mental illness, psychosis through to psychopathy in adulthood, and the question that runs through my mind is “Could this have been prevented?”. We see how the system and society fail Arthur several times. You always hear people preaching the phrase “you don’t know what someone is going through behind closed doors” but yet, Arthur was continuously judged and misinterpreted many times throughout the film. It was sad that he had to carry around a card explaining to the people he had a mental illness because at the end of the day he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation.
From start to finish we see multiple times the Joker continuously forcing a smile, he was just a regular guy with mental illness looking to feel better. There is a clear image painted from the beginning that society has always been against people like the Joker, so are we surprised when the city turns in to chaos and joins him in his rebellion?
The first shooting was a taste for the joker in what it felt like to get revenge on the rich. He was continuously shot down and mocked by the rich men on the train and in everyday life, so was it any wonder that he enjoyed it and done a victory dance. Once his actions were recognized by the city, he realized that people stood with him and wanted to make a stand for social justice.
“For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice”. – Joker
The rich are represented as Thomas Wayne in the movie, ironically painted as a hero, and the ‘perfect man’ to represent Gotham city. We soon learn that it’s all a fake facade and that the Rich only looks out for the Rich. Arthur always looked up to Thomas Wayne and Murray, until he learned that he was a sympathizer for them.
The film was so raw and real, it shows how things just go from bad to worse for Arthur.
Once he realizes he was adopted and abused, and that his entire life has been a lie, you can see these things slowly shaping him into the insane genius that is the Joker. A powerful scene in the movie is when, Arthur starts dancing down the steps giving in, accepting and transforming into the Joker. He dances into a pool of madness and his insanity blossoms from here.
A large talk surrounding the movie is, ‘does it correlate to the world we live in today’? People think that the Joker was not just a movie but that it was art and real life. The movie does link closely to today’s society, and it addresses the real-life struggles we face today. The rich are still powerful and being treated superior, and mental health is still on the rise and there’s not much being done to stop it. Something I find interesting is the subtle quotes within the movie that do relate to real life. A favorite one of mines is when the Joker tells an offensive joke, Murray scolds him for it saying you can’t tell jokes like that and then the Joker talks about how easily offended people are these days. I feel like this is real, in today’s society you always have to watch what you say or tiptoe around everyone as someone is always offended about something.
We see subtle references from the ‘Dark knight rising (2008)’ and ‘The Joker (2019)’, both Jokers are responsible for killing people, but we feel bad for one and yet not the other. We watch what Arthur goes through and understand his transition into the Joker, whereas we view the other one like a mad man.
A question to ask is “are we responsible for creating monsters?”. We see the iconic scene towards the end, where Joker paints on a smile with his own blood. This scene will always be remembered as the scene in which the Joker tried to smile through the pain until the pain made him smile.
So, I think the answer to the question above is, yes… To some extent, I think we as a society need to take some responsibility for creating ‘monsters’. If everyone was nice to each other in real life and not just online would mental health so largely consume so many of us?
Moral of the story in real life and behind The Joker movie is:
Be careful how you treat people.
Rachael Diamond is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter – @rachaeldiamond and LinkedIn @rachaeldiamond.