Episode 223: Joker

25 Jan

In this episode, Tyler discusses Todd Phillips’ Joker and Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down.

2 Responses to “Episode 223: Joker”

  1. Ray (@RaySquirrel) January 26, 2020 at 3:37 am #

    Thank you for the episode Tyler. This one is one I’ve been anticipating. I have herd your take on previous podcasts and I can’t understand how anyone could say that this film is “not about anything.” Now that you’ve gone into greater detail, I can understand what you mean. And it is an analysis which is well informed, well articulated, and one I disagree with completely.

    First off, I don’t understand the emphasis on the casting of Robert DeNero. He is completely serviceable in role. The fact that his character is not funny is in no way unrealistic. Jay Leno managed to coast for decades on TV talk shows while being pale shadow of a comedian.

    Second. The reason why this film has resonated with so many people is because they look at the world of Arthur Fleck, and they immediately identify with it. To you it might seem heightened, but to everyone who are not Los Angeles film critics, that is just life. I have a friend who works a shit job, day-in day-out, with a mountain of medical debt, and I am worried about the day when he eventually snaps.

    The same media outlets for years who have been dismissing and disparaging the hardships of people like my friend, treat ‘Joker’ with distain. I suspect because if they see themselves reflected in the film, it is in the character of Murray Franklin. A media personality who feels confident, mocking and belittling people he views as beneath him. In the lead up to the release of ‘Joker’ it almost felt like the media actively wanted there to be a violent outburst at a screening of the film. As if it would justify their narrative that the film appeals to depraved sociopaths. People who’s troubles and concerns can be easily dismissed. The fact that the film has won enormous acclaim by audiences and by the Academy, only demonstrates just how little influence and relevance they have.

    There is no character like a Commissioner Gordon or Martin Pendergast in this film, no moral center to counterbalance the Joker. It is all the more relevant because of that. Right now the world feels like a Gotham without a Batman. When people have no heroes, they will rally around its villains.

  2. FictionIsntReal January 30, 2020 at 3:51 pm #

    I agree that the film spreads itself thin over possible messages and thus doesn’t come down solidly on one. But I’m alright with that. I can’t agree that the score wasn’t memorable though. It was an atypical score and unusually integrated into the film. I’ve taken to listening to Hildur’s other work since then, some of which I’d heard before without realizing she contributed cello, and I’m glad this and Chernobyl have worked out so well for her.

    I thought it worked very well both that Arthur was crazy and Gotham was awful. The terrible surroundings meant that people could mistakenly idolize a crazy murderer. He’s partly a reflection of that world, and the world comes to reflect him. He’s not a smart bad guy who can get away with crime, he’s an untalented crazy guy who can only get away for things for a limited amount of time before even strained authorities catch up to him.

    I know a lot of people have said that Wayne and Murray are unsympathetic, but I’m not entirely on board. Wayne offends people with his comment after Arthur commits murder, but he’s not a professional politician and it’s understandable he might say something impolite after three of his employees were murdered. And after this weirdo tried to enter his property and even touched his kid, it’s understandable that Wayne might be angry enough to slap him. Many people think Murray did something awful by mocking that clip, but that seems relatively normal for TV comedy to me. He’s also quite accommodating to Arthur when he actually comes on the show, and his reaction to Arthur’s nihilism and confession seems entirely correct. I began the film with the knowledge that Joker from the comics is a villain, and Bruce Wayne became a hero to avenge the horrible murder of his parents. I don’t need the film to do anything more to tell me that Arthur/Joker isn’t a hero I should look up to, so there’s need for anything like The Irishman to make that more obvious.

    I think the reason there’s no Pendergast is because we know it will ultimately Bruce/Batman’s role to act as the corrective to the awful world he lives in, and if we saw any heroes there wouldn’t seem to be as much need for him. We know there are police who catch Arthur, but they aren’t the heroes of the movie.

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