Why Liberal Media Hate ‘The Joker’

Why Liberal Media Hate ‘The Joker’, by John Davidson.

What does woke media have against “Joker”?

When it premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month, Time magazine’s Stephanie Zacharek slammed the film for a supposedly sympathetic portrayal of its protagonist, who could “easily be adopted as the patron saint of incels.” A flood of similar comments followed from critics who worried its morally ambiguous depiction of a psychotic mass murderer would incite real-world violence—that lonely and alienated young men would, like the riotous mobs in the film’s closing scene, see the Joker as a hero. …

The film, as most everyone knows by now, is about Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill clown who lives with his mentally ill mother and dreams of becoming a standup comic. Played by a rail-thin (and very disconcerting) Joaquin Phoenix, Fleck has serious problems and is very much in need of real help, which he doesn’t get. Instead, he suffers a series of setbacks and humiliations and gradually slips into a violent psychosis.

By the film’s end, amid a violent city-wide riot, he has become a folk hero to the disgruntled rabble of Gotham. Amid random mob violence and societal breakdown, the Joker is born. …

Why the left hate it:

What critics have objected to above all is that Fleck is not portrayed as pure evil. He has actual reasons behind his violence. Simply put, he’s taking revenge on an unjust world that showed him too little kindness and no love at all. …

To the extent there’s a political analogy at work, it’s an indictment of the coarseness of civic life. There’s even a subtle anti-Antifa feeling to the masked Gothamites holding up signs that read “Wayne = Facist” and “Kill the Rich.” …

Consciously or not, the film makes some implicit arguments, including an argument for compassion and community and against moral relativism and indifference. Here we have a profile of a disturbed man sliding into psychosis who gets no help from anyone — not least the government social worker who’s supposed to be helping him. It’s set in a city simmering with hatred and violence, where basic government services like trash collection have broken down. …

“Joker” is really an opportunity for a … dialogue about the role of families, about what people need most in life, about what makes for civic comity and solidarity. What it suggests, however unintentionally, is that maybe the best way to fend off the kind alienation and frustration that beset Arthur Fleck is with an intact family, a loving mother and a father.

Maybe the thing people need most in life is friendship and love and community. Maybe we need to rethink the way we’ve torn down the institutions and traditions that used to support these things. Maybe the radical atomization and isolation and autonomy of modern life doesn’t foster prosperity and happiness. …

If we do, that will mean rethinking a half-century of progressive thought, and questioning whether it has all been a pack of lies.

So big government failed, but a family would be best. That message is politically incorrect, too much for the left to handle.

Steve Sailer:

Joker has gotten berserk negative reviews, noteworthy for their incoherence and anger at the film’s evenhanded politics. The New York Times film critic, for example, lamely argued that the film is “not interesting enough to argue about,” even though Joker is more fun to debate than to sit through.