Review of Joker, by Todd Phillips
The new Joker film is excellent. More than excellent, it is beloved. The dilemma facing me is that I haven’t read one review which accurately captures precisely why it is so beloved. But I know why. And I can explain it succinctly.
The new Joker film is so beloved because it surreptitiously names the elephant in the room, and consequently it offers the audience freedom to bathe in the joy which accompanies naked hope.
Our “culture” is inundated with the idea that “nurture” has won the nature/nurture debate. But not the Joker folks. Instead of pandering to what’s en vogue, they created the most brilliant safe space imaginable (the bleached white halls of Gotham’s legendary Arkham Asylum) and peppered it with a hysterical clown’s slippery, speedy, and blood-soaked footprints. We find ourselves tickled by how Joker gleefully stays one step ahead of the pursuing wet-nurses. But we aren’t empathizing with Joker’s claims of victim-hood, no. What we’re doing is enjoying the feeling of hope. We are basking in the sunlight which is the hope that his chaotic crimes will finally motivate someone to rise and defeat him and all his kind.
In other words, Joker is so beloved because it finally said what we all feel: It cannot be all nurture. Our blood has to have something to do with it. Joker’s blood must have something to do with his behavior. And Bruce Wayne’s blood, likewise, will have something to do with his behavior, with the reason that he becomes Batman.
One must not forget that Joker is the loser.