James Crawford

October 23, 2019

The Artificial Joker Controversy

Time's take on the new Joker movie is pretty much representative of the Commentator Class's panic reaction that we've been seeing lately. By way of reminder, whenever anything is deemed "controversial," it is because it makes the media outlets uncomfortable, and they'd rather guide its acceptance. It's only controversial because they say so.

In any case, we of course read that "some critics are worried about how moviegoers will interpret the story," with a hyperlink to a single "mass shooting" threat (an alleged threat but no actual shooting). It's likely that the media, which gushes and grins at the chance to cover such violence, is a tad disappointed. But they had to add something by way of a connection.

Why? Well, we find out later down the article that we live in an era of an "epidemic" of home-grown terrorism led on by "disgruntled young men." Moreover,

The audience of Joker, it appears, is either supposed to empathize with a disillusioned shooter or at least understand why he committed acts of violence.

These are the kind of contrived interpretations you get when you read the mainstream reviews; imagine thinking that the creators of the Joker had on their minds the goal of getting people to emphathize with the very much insane Joker. And of course, there's the other interesting element that the leftist reviewers are criticizing the desire to understand why violent criminals act the way they do. As Samuel Forster writes at Quillette,

To progressive members of the literati, the phenomenon of interest is the omnipresent sociopathy of the white male, in all its sexual repression, social ostracization and malignant cruelty.

And yet,

it is unclear why any of us should not endeavour to understand the motivations of disaffected white men (or any kind of men—for it’s not clear why Fleck’s character could not, with some small plot changes, be of any ethnic background imaginable) who end up committing acts of violence. The key to reducing violence amongst any demographic is in ascertaining the specific attributes of violent individuals.

Back to the Time article, it only took a few paragraphs into the review to read that

The lawlessness of the internet makes it a place where any character or symbol can easily be spun out of control or coopted by people with ill intent. Just look at Pepe the Frog, a goofy stoned cartoon amphibian that evolved into a symbol of hatred favored by the alt-right, despite the fact that its creator says he was meant to represent love. Men’s Rights Activists radically misinterpreted The Matrix’s“red pill” (the pill that shows Neo the truth, that he lives in a manufactured Matrix) to describe the supposed “lies” of feminism.

What does any of this have to do with anything, besides the fact that the author is laughably ignorant at the purpose and development of the above memes (the red pill-feminism connection is beyond hilariously dense)? It's just a chance to throw around dominant social themes against the people groups they hate the most: conservative white males.

We read that "Others worry that the script does not do enough to make clear that the Joker’s acts of terrorism are evil, not heroic."


About the author

James Crawford is a writer and business owner in Kansas. He has a degree in history and is primarily interested in medieval history.

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