Liberals Should Like ‘Joker’

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Joaquin Phoenix as the titular Joker

It’s a character study in an atmosphere of gritty realism. It’s an artistic experiment that crosses familiar source material with an unfamiliar interpretation. It is an opportunity for Joaquin Phoenix to be Joaquin Phoenix and for Todd Phillips to try something more serious than The Hangover, while still having some relationship to the genre of comedy.

The targets of the villain are the elite, the 1%. The villain is said to be a product of the upper class’s exploitative, selfish ways. It shows what happens when public funds are cut due to a mysterious lack of revenues, while there appear to be plenty of millionaires in Gotham (who would have no trouble writing an extra check to make sure the mentally ill have counseling and medication). Joker is not even implicitly or subliminally a form of apologetics for white patriarchy. It’s a story about how life sucks, often in a way that leads to more sucking. If there is anything political, it’s in supporting the poor and the bullied.

One would hope that this actually resonates with liberal audiences. Hasn’t the left been trying to get several problems (such as mass shootings, the opioid crisis, suicide rates, et alia) solved by addressing the influence of mental unwellness on these phenomena? Where the conservative side of the discussion might be more likely to say, “Man up,
or, “Just deal with it,” liberals tend to see an opportunity to solve a problem. I don’t know why this mindset suddenly disappeared when this movie came out, but I’d like to see this side of liberals again.

I think this one is pretty simple. I look at the complaints across the media about what an enabler this film is of deranged white men, and I wonder if they saw the same movie as I did.

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