Cliff Robinson

“Joker” (2019)

Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker. Warner Bros. 2019.

Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips’ “Joker” is a culturally significant work of art.

While the characters are rooted in DC Comics’ Batman universe, Phoenix and Phillips smartly took the opportunity to use comic book intellectual property, which has dominated Hollywood for years, to study a mentally ill character failed by a corrupt and broken system who steadily and then rapidly devolves into a monster.

The erosion of social services since the late 70s and 80s follows the ushering in of giant monied interests buying our politicians and corrupting our western democratic ideals.

While the story takes place about 15 to 20 years prior to the appearance of Batman, in the 80s, the story provides a mirror for our times, up to and including a billionaire who believes they can be Mayor of Gotham because they think government needs to be run like a business, which, of course – billionaires have successfully managed to accomplish.

Those in the public that are outraged by the movie expected to see a traditional comic book movie. Those in the elite critical community are deeply divided by the work. I would be interested to know how many are offended by the political mirror to our times vs. the deeply dark take on what they perceive as a children’s character.

Lastly, the hysteria over violence fears in movie theaters because an over the top comic book villain descends into madness is complete bullshit propaganda, especially when you consider the mass shooter in our country is more times than not a white right winger trying to eliminate people based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or political ideology. The Joker just wants us all to put on a smile.

Where’s the harm in that?