Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:
Today, Troy Anderson of AndersonVision is here to look at the Best Picture nominee – Joker.
BEST Picture Nominee – Joker
Why You’re An Asshole for Not Liking Joker
Thoughts on Joker’s Best Picture Oscar nomination
There was an entire version of this piece done before I watched SNL this weekend. Somewhere, between Melissa Villasenor’s second round of White Male Rage…something struck me. When eagerly looking for societal difference, it’s easy to grind out popular things to hate. But, here’s the kicker. All of that distaste for “while male rage” is based in the kind of thing that keeps the Internet afloat. Groupthink circulated in viral means of social acceptance.
After all, why did Joaquin Phoenix connect with a mass audience in this film and not in something like “The Master”? Phoenix played the same kind of role, but he was so much more pathetic in Joker. That kind of weakness finding a way to power really irks certain elements of our online and offline society. What should raise more questions is who did it jazz up enough to take the lead in Oscar nominations?
More importantly, why is it an outside favorite to take Best Picture? If AMPAS loved it enough to give it 11 nominations, why are critics and other talking heads treating it like a runner-up to 1917, Parasite and Once Upon A Time…in Hollywood? Well, that’s because this whole thing is less about worthiness and influencing prestige. After all, the Oscars are a historical document dedicated to informing cultural influence. Just ask the anonymous voters bragging to Entertainment Weekly and the Hollywood Reporter about voting against Adam Sandler.
While the notion of Adam Sandler or Greta Gerwig getting snubbed on key Oscar nominations might irk some of the people shutting down Joker, it’s the same thing. Circles and cycles of bitter groups thinking they have their finger on the pulse of taste. Ultimately, they don’t know a damn thing and are on a crash course with reality. So many hands tugging and pulling on what they demand to be canon. Guess what? The canon doesn’t matter to the vulgar hordes that would rather watch Space Cop.
There’s something in the big scene where Joker murders Murray Franklin. The scene goes too long, lingers too hard and Joker mugs too hard for the camera. It’s not Romero or Ledger or even Nicholson mugging for the camera. This is a fragile little man finally getting a taste of power and not knowing how to present it. He feels the correct anger as in Murray brought him onto the show to insult and belittle. But, when he tries to illustrate it…Joker gets forced into tangents about the men he murdered and the city’s riots.
The shitty make-up, the ratty hair and the starved frame exist alongside a mind that has finally snapped. Does that mean there aren’t tales to tell about minorities and women rising up against unfair societal structures? Of course, not! But, those stories don’t get told by silencing the ones that already exist. After all, in one film…Todd Phillips ended up killing the Joker mythos.
Arthur Fleck aka Joker isn’t someone to be admired. He’s a pathetic sad sack that is almost 40 before finding any sense of purpose. He hallucinates anything good in his life, while bothering those that are existing peacefully without this stain of a person. The Joker isn’t cool. He’s so pathetic that Batman won’t even do the decent thing and kill him.
Yet, this film exists without a Batman and provides something that truly deserves its Best Picture nomination. Working as probably the ideal comic book character study, it strips away everything but the essentials for a nearly 80 year old comic book character. While it’s sad that Arthur Fleck’s life falls apart before our eyes in this movie, it had to happen.
The world needs leaders, but not for that long. Look at the track record for anyone that amounted to anything in this life. Life expectancy is pretty limited and people turn on you. Now, for the ones that lead criminals…well you live long enough to become hated.
Joker is the modern version of feeding a Roman slave to the lions. For 2 hours, we watch the worst of our society get mauled and attacked, then reshaped into something we can’t recognize. Then, he acts out and he becomes a brief celebrity. Much like the Paddy Chayefsky style TV montage near the end of the film, Joker stops being an icon. He’s just another face on the TV for a brief moment before being stored away in the nuthouse.
But, why are people assholes for not liking Joker? Well, it’s simple. If you can preach about not looking away at our less fortunate, then you must look at all of them. Not every hard luck case turns out well and Joker is just a fictional take on what happens when the people that fall between the cracks start to ooze back out.
If it’s not your thing, then go see a Zorro movie. Just remember to stay out of alleyways.