It’s as if someone said, “let’s take all the fun out of the Joker and make a movie about it.” “Joker” was the result.
Released on Oct. 4, the story follows Arthur Fleck, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, a loner struggling with mental illness, who works as a party clown and has dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian.
Fleck suffers from a condition which causes him to burst out in hysterical laughter. After a couple of Wall Street mongrels try to beat him up for it, he kills them. He becomes an anonymous sign of rebellion for the lower class as the notorious rich-killing clown, although the police are unaware that Fleck is the perpetrator.
After society beats him down time and time again, it leads to Fleck’s psychological downfall which manifests his reborn persona, the Joker. Only a quarter of the film or less features the actual Joker that the film is based on, while the rest tries to empathize and reason with Fleck’s motives.
It is already problematic to ask an audience to feel empathy for a merciless killer, but it is also a complete misinterpretation of the classic character who is known for wreaking havoc without reason.
The Joker is scary because his character is mysterious and his mind is so gone that he’s on a different plane of reality- he’s a caricature. In “Joker,” we’re given way too much information about Fleck’s humanistic trials with life, which makes the film even more dangerous than if it were a gratuitous slaughter flick.
Instead of persuading us to feel angry or indifferent toward the killer, the film urges us to sympathize and understand what Fleck is going through, because it’s not really his fault that he becomes the way he does, it’s society’s fault. This sends a negative message, which diminishes blame from violent incels, shortened from involuntary celibacy, and gives them an outlet for their rage.
In 2012, James Holmes opened fire during a screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 70 and has been hailed by some as an incel hero ever since. Although Holmes never claimed to take inspiration from the Joker, many associate him with the character.
Due to the nature of “Joker,” many are afraid of a copycat killer, and dangerous threats from incels on the internet has urged the FBI to issue a warning to moviegoers.
On Oct. 3, Century Huntington Beach and XD theater in the Bella Terra shopping center was evacuated and closed when a credible threat was reported to the police.
Huntington Beach Police Department Officer Angela Bennett told the media that while they don’t believe the theater is still in danger, they are still investigating the situation.
Whether theater threats are occurring due to the nature of the film or due to the theatre massacre in 2012, the film sends a dangerous message to incels and weaponizes mental illness.
It tried to convey many messages, but never quite finishes any of its points, leaving the audience with whatever’s on the bare surface, which is a sob story about a societal outcast who spirals into becoming a mass murderer.