The Joker movie is a powerful and polarizing movie that gives us a different version of how the Joker came to be. And that's the best thing about the character. He's had so many different origin stories over the years that you, the fan, get to choose which one makes the most sense. I felt as though the movie did a great job of showcasing how a normal person, could be driven to the brink of madness after having quite a few bad days. Joaquin Phoenix pulled this off perfectly. His mannerisms, facial expressions, and random slow dancing were all picture perfect. I don't want to sit here and type a review of how good this movie was. What I want to adress is the shit storm prescreen reviewers caused by calling the movie "Incel friendly" or a "rally cry" for disturbed lone gunmen. I saw one GQ published article from a clown named Joshua Rivera titled: "Joker Is a Movie for People Who Want To Blame Everyone Else". And after reading it I side eyed so hard my eyeballs almost popped out of my head. These articles are done by people who 1) have no idea what incels are, 2) have no idea what a comic book is, and 3) have their heads so far up their asses that they think this shit is normal.
The first thing to note is that this movie doesn't have a drip of incel related content whatsoever. For those of you who don't know the term "involuntary celibate" (shortened to "incel") refers to (now just men) whom just can't find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. Originally the term was coined by a hard working business woman who just wanted a place online where like minded people could find support. And by "like minded" I mean people who were too busy to actually go out and look for companionship. However, as with all things good intentioned, angry white men claimed it for their own and have done terrible and heinous things under its moniker. From rape to running over crowds of people in cars. So yeah, "incels" are pretty bad news, however, the character in this movie isn't one. There is no point where he goes I hate women, women owe me, or anything along those lines. My lady and I walked out of the movie going "where was the incel shit?"
It was nowhere, and that's what really upset me. Not that it wasn't there, but because all these reviewers saying it was, set the expectation that it would be. You have to remember that at the time after the Toronto film festival only a handful of people had seen the movie. They then decided to proclaim that it would excite and inspire "incels". Incels whom Joker probably wasn't even on the radar of. It's here where I have to agree with Marc Maron who said in an interview "I know that the anger doesn’t always have a place to land, but it can’t land on movies. If anything the media debate of it is trying to provoke something awful to happen. Movies don’t cause this..." And it's true, because shortly after these "reviewers came out with their garbage, the FBI started getting "credible" intel that incels planned to see the movie and do terrible things at screenings.
Now fortunately, nothing terrible ended up happening, but if it did it would have been no fault of the movie's, but of the sites and reviews who dabble in the art of peddling misinformation for clicks and profit. To turn their speculation into "I told you so". And let me be clear, I'm not saying that it wasn't a possibility that movie goers faced danger from "incel" men or whoever. What I'm saying is that you increase that possibility when you create toxic articles rallying a group you don't understand around a thing you understand even less all for profit. It's not only disgusting but dangerous.
Then you had the others claiming that the movie glorifies lone gunmen, giving them a hero. Saying that the movie mishandled the idea of the mentally ill. And to that I say this: People always get upset when the mentally ill being portrayed is white, but when he's black...who cares right? However, keeping race out if it I'm curious what was so wrong about the portrayal? This movie isn't saying that every mentally unstable person becomes a homicidal maniac. The movie is saying here's what happened to one mentally ill person, who lost his resources, lost his identity, and had a pretty shit life. So what's the problem. . .learn about any serial killer in the history of ever and you learn that most of them at least had a means of which to get better...and they still kill. And that's REAL life. Something I think people forgot about this movie...it's FICTIONAL, so of course it's more over the top.
Maybe people are upset because things like this actually happen and they don't like knowing how it could. Especially with that ending. However, the fact is this movie raises a lot of important issues. The wealth disparity between the haves and the have nots, the underfunding and defunding of mental help programs, the ease of which guns are obtained. These are all real issues that though the movie it self never makes an audible statement about, those of us with eyes and a brain can see. Then you have the mistreatment of Fleck that leads to his culmination of becoming Joker. In fact many psychologist agree that the Joker depicted in this movie could be a very real thing. From his sudden burst of laughter known more scientifically as Pseudobulbar Affect to his delusions. You put these things together in man already so very close to the edge and you can in fact get someone like Joker.
At the core of this movie once you take away comic references, face paint, and Batman you have someone struggling with mental illness, doing his best to fit in in a world that clearly doesn't give to shits about him. In fact in an article posted by the Salt Lake Tribune, an interview with licensed clinical social worker Jenn Oxborrow states something to the effect that all the dangerous people that she's ever worked with wants acceptance and respect. That they want some sense of control, because they’ve been disempowered somewhere.
So before you jump on the movie because you think it empowers madness, think about how seeing the movie made you feel. Scared? Angry? Disgusted? Good! Now ask why? This movie partly serves as a voice for the voiceless. And make no mistake, I'm not saying the character is a hero, nor am I defending his actions. When I walked into this movie and both a comic book fan and a fan of the character I knew what I was walking in to. This movie speaks to the why of the character, the how, the wow. Subsequently, it also speaks to the the real life factors as well. And it says that if we don't change the way we look at certain things, we're doomed to keep creating monsters we don't want to take any responsibility for setting loose in the world.