This Friday I went to see the movie "Joker", directed by Todd Phillips and that is reaping excellent reviews. When I left the cinema I left with very contradictory impressions.
A technically excellent movie
On the one hand, Phillips' film has an unquestionable cinematic quality. Joaquin Phoenix's performance in the leading role is simply masterful. The soundtrack, by Icelandic Hildur Guðnadóttir, is magnificent. The photography is fabulous. The story is very well told. From a purely formal point of view it is an excellent film, worthy of an ovation. But ... A movie can be good for gathering all the formal aspects that a masterpiece requires, and at the same time being a cheater and generating rejection. The same happens in any other aspect of human creativity: a technically formidable work can be created, but with a deplorable message.
A precedent of 104 years ago
Yesterday, towards the end of "Joker", a very concrete film came to my mind: "The Birth of a Nation" (1915), directed by D.W. Griffith It is an admirable film from the technical point of view, which caused a sensation at the time and is still considered one of the great films in the history of cinema. However, behind that magnificent wrapping was a morally cheating and loathsome movie, as it sought to create sympathy for a group of racist criminals, the Ku Klux Klan, presenting blacks as the bad guys in history.
NOTICE: The following paragraphs reveal some aspects of the movie.
A film that presents a manichaean vision of society
"Joker" is receiving criticism for glorifying a murderer and inciting violence. Is there any truth in that? Personally, what I disliked was to perceive that this film promotes a perverse and tricky idea. I will explain myself. "Joker" introduces us to the protagonist as a victim of violence and injustice. So far this film has a common element with many other cinematographic works that have not generated any controversy. In addition, the Joker is an upset man, to the point that it causes you grief. Again, there is nothing wrong with a movie raising that issue. The problem comes when the movie presents the Joker as a victim of the "system". Several times that word is mentioned during the feature film. But also, and here comes what I liked least, the film tells the story of the Joker in a way that supports that idea: the rich are portrayed as heartless to those who do not care about the fate of those who have less (Thomas Wayne, which in other films is a philanthropist, this time it is a scoundrel and refers to those disadvantaged as "clowns"), so that the violence of those disadvantaged against the rich ends up looking like understandable and logical.
From criminal psycho to revolutionary leader
When the murders against these oppressors begin, we see that the slogan "kill the rich" begins to spread as the motto of a popular movement of those who are tired of being ignored, treated badly, do not love them, etc. This is the old recourse to victimhood and self-pity to justify the search for scapegoats, something typical of totalitarian ideologies, which blame all the evils on the bourgeois or the Jews. In the middle of this cheater speech, in the film we see a transformation of the main character: the Joker is no longer a psychopath who enjoys crime, as in other films, but a revolutionary. In the end, the whole movie seems directed to show us that, deep down, the Joker is bad because society has done him this way: he simply returns all the damage he has been done. Thus, the film offers a manichaean and demagogic vision of society, with rich oppressors and oppressed poor. The old Marxist roll of the class struggle, but this time with a clown in Lenin's place.
Esquire magazine and its leftist reading of 'Joker'
Some will say that I exaggerate what I just said. I encourage you to read what Esquire magazine has published relating "Joker" to the class struggle, with an appointment from the Communist Manifesto included, and making the following reflection: "Joker arrives with a very strong political load, based on the gap between classes, social injustice and the echo to movements like Occupy Wall Street." Several paragraphs below, comes the bleaching of the villain as an anti-capitalist hero: "in a panorama of mostly wealthy superheroes (especially in this context, Bruce Wayne), any disruptive symbol represents a ray of hope," to finally warn, yes, that "it is not so certain that his leadership conceals an ideological setback that, as many are already commenting, can have a toxic reversal in the more conservative public", for that, I suppose, that putting assassins as revolutionary leaders is an ugly and old custom of the left that ends up causing rejection among anyone who respects human dignity.
What happens when resentment and envy are promoted
Beyond that, we should remember that the propaganda engine of Marxism feeds on resentment and envy, and thus the enemy ends up being anyone who has something that another desires, be it a bigger house, a better car, a woman who has rejected another, some children that another has not been able to have or the mere fact of having been endowed by nature with more physical beauty than his neighbor. The problem of "Joker" is not that weapons appear, but that supports that resentful, self-compassionate and envious speech, which unfortunately remains very fashionable among the political, media and academic left. Paradoxically, it is the same left that has plunged entire countries into misery with their envious and resentful ideological recipes, without so far having had the decency to make even the slightest self-criticism.
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