As the movie Joker ended I felt that this film could have been so progressive if it were made in the years 2008 to 2016. But, in Trump’s Nazi-like America what could have been a tour de force against the rich is nothing more than a white male psychopath movie.
The film opens with a man named Arthur doing his job as a clown trying to attract business while waving a sign. Some kids steal his sign and beat him up. Arthur goes home and we see he lives with his mom. If this were 2008 to 2016 we could say that this is a reflection on how bad President Bush’s economy was that this poor man has to live with his mom. But, in Trump’s America, we have a loser that lives and most likely votes Republican. Through flashbacks, we learn that Arthur has spent some time in a mental hospital. This would have been a perfect place to explain how his medical coverage can be stripped away by Republicans. He and his mother watch a talk show together, the great progressive actor Robert De Niro plays the host and Arthur dreams of being on it someday.
One of the most distressing parts of the film is when a co-worker of Arthur’s, clearly another MAGA inspired character, gives him a gun to “protect himself”. If this were a more progressive age the film could have used this scene to show the dangers of illegal gun transactions. Later, Arthur finds himself on a subway where he sees two Wall Street types harassing a young girl. They begin to harass him and he guns them down. Now, if this were not Trump’s America I would cheer the killing of these WASP-type monsters. But, since the director of this film criticized ‘woke’ thinking I cannot bring myself to like this scene. This really sets Arthur down a path to become the Joker. These killings start a movement against the 1% and it would have gone so nicely with the Occupy Wall Street movement from years ago.
Arthur tries his hand at stand-up comedy. He is not funny. He is awkward like the anchors on FOX News. Robert De Niro’s talk show host character plays footage from the failed act on his show. This pushes Arthur further into madness. Again, since the director, Todd Phillips was critical of ‘woke’ culture I cannot say that this is an example of media bullying someone.
At one point Arthur asks his mother why she keeps writing Thomas Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s father. She says she used to work for him and they were in love and Arthur is his son. If only this film were made in 2010, Thomas Wayne is the true villain of the picture. He is rich and doesn’t care about the poor. He thinks running for mayor will help the people. Arthur tries to reach out to him for help, but he is turned away.
Sadly, the only real minority in this picture is an African American female Arthur that lives in the same building. Arthur does what many white men do; he stalks her and acts creepy. At one point we think that she and Arthur are dating, but it turns out this is all in his mind. She is never allowed to be strong. Clearly, the director is afraid, like many since Trump was elected, of strong women!
The film reaches its climax with Arthur going on the talk show in full Joker gear. On the way, the police try to question him about the Wall Street killings. He gets away and makes it to the show. On live TV he kills the host. This accelerates the anti-1% movement. The people in Gotham are in full-blown riot mode. Sadly, I cannot say I was happy with this since the director thinks he is better than ‘woke’ people. One of the people who Arthur inspired kills Bruce Wayne’s parents and Arthur is a hero to the people. Eventually, he is committed to a mental institution with all the other Trump voters where, we can hope, Trump and his supporters should get the mental help they need once the impeachment is over.
Joker was such a missed opportunity. I cannot help but think if this was made in 2011 many progressive politicians would have rallied around the anti-1% message. I can envision President Obama showing the film at the White House and speaking on how gun violence is not good. It is too bad that Todd Philips choose to side with regressive elements of our culture or this film could have been very good.