Joker: We Live in a Society


Jake Munson, Isaac Porter, and Alex Scalf

Todd Phillips’s “Joker” has been the source of both praise and controversy. To date, it stands as the highest worldwide grossing rated R film at a staggering 850 million dollars. This comes as a big surprise to some, given its dark depiction of violence and mental illness. These elements have sparked quite the controversy. Past this point, there will be spoilers for the film. If you have not seen Joker, then continue at your own discretion. 

Joker does not hold back one bit. Its portrayal of the fictional city of Gotham is an unforgiving cesspool of crime and violence. Within the film, the character Joker is seen in a different light than his usual depiction. He is a sympathetic character. While the audience may not agree with his actions, they can sympathize with his motive. He is a constant outcast of society until he learns how to manipulate it. Some see this movie’s message as destructive and fear it may inspire individuals to justify a goal in a similar manner. With this being said the movie is still very entertaining to most; currently it holds a solid 8.8 on IMDB. 

On another note, many have compared Joker to the 1976 psychological thriller Taxi Driver. Isaac Porter, senior at Bob Jones, had this to say about the subject:

“I think the Joker is a great movie;  it takes a lot of inspiration from Taxi Driver. They both show us a mentally ill loner in a society, but Joker separates itself from Taxi Driver by how the characters approach the world. In Taxi Driver, the main character Travis chooses to look at things that disgust him and has this increasing need to use his violent mind for good, but the Joker goes out and tries to make people laugh and to get noticed but get repetitively stomped on, causing this violence to come out.”

With this all out of the way, we can get into review territory. Alex Scalf, a Bob Jones senior, was eager to share his thoughts. Alex is an avid viewer of cinema and has extensive knowledge on the subject. While he typically reviews anime and kpop*, he has stepped out of his comfort zone to review Joker:

“I have mixed feelings about the “Joker.” I thoroughly enjoyed the outstanding cinematography and overall aesthetic of the movie set in 1980’s Gotham City in a pre-internet era. Todd Phillips (director) does a great job of portraying Arthur Fleck, the Joker, as a mentally unstable psychotic loner whose neurological condition of uncontrollable laughter aids and sometimes hinders his daytime job of clown-for-hire. The movie progresses through a downward spiral of Arthur Fleck’s madness as he slowly transforms from a socially inept misfit into a criminal supervillain. I certainly did enjoy watching the movie, as it had great production value, acting, and a very interesting plot. However, I did not like the message that the movie was sending, which leads into my mixed feelings. 

It begins with how the movie portrays society, with its anti-capitalism, anti-rich, and anarchy-fueled plot. It may be an entertaining storyline to watch, but I do not think that it’s a good message to send to young people, especially to depressed and unstable people, in modern times where there are real societal issues that the movie corresponds to. Where the Joker advocates violence in a fractured society, the movie is meant to be portrayed in a semi-serious way, shining a light on mental health and psychological disorders while showing what desperation, mental disorders, and clouded judgment can lead to. It is certainly a touchy subject. The realism that the movie conveys mixed with the violence sure is a great thrill of events, but in my opinion, a double-edged sword.

The movie is certainly interesting and kept my attention throughout the entire duration. There wasn’t a single “filler” or “boring” scene in the whole movie. No moment was wasted and everything had meaning. So many of the scenes were well thought out and extraordinary well performed by Phoenix. Todd Phillips certainly did his homework, as the movie won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion, and is currently the top-grossing R-rated movie ever sitting at $850M worldwide box office just over three weeks after its initial debut. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, but didn’t agree with some of the nuances of its dark plot, so I have to rate this movie an overall 7/10.”

*The editors are pretty sure Alex Scalf does not review anime and kpop.