JOKER. Directed by Todd Phillips with Joaquin Phoenix, Robert de Niro, Zazie Beets, Francis Conroy and Brett Cullen.
Joker is each and all of us who are at the violent end of globalised capitalism. The joke is on us, LEONARD SHAPIRO writes:
Arthur Fleck suffers, like many people, from the effects of childhood trauma. He is unable to afford a psychotherapist and instead visits a social worker who dutifully asks him the same questions each time and barely listens to him nor empathises with him. This is probably not her fault as she is likely underpaid and overworked, seeing many more patients that she can be expected to manage. Fleck is on seven different psychiatric medications. It can be argued that his weekly visits and their unfruitful conversations with the social worker are actually keeping him from doing the internal soul-searching that is needed in order to gain insight into the reasons for his mental condition and in so doing begin to resolve them and heal. (This process of insight and healing begins for Fleck later in the film).
After state funding for his weekly visits to a social worker are cut, and he is no longer able to gain his medication, Fleck begins reclaiming the agency he so desperately needs in order to regain his sense of self and feel human again. After being robbed of an advertising sign and then seriously assaulted a group of young thugs, he acquires a firearm for his protection. He is subsequently set-upon by three grown men in an unprovoked assault while he is on a subway carriage and he is now able to defend himself from what might well have cost him his life. It is clear that these three men (who turn out to be extremely wealthy and who could easily have afforded a cab) were travelling on the subway with the specific aim of targeting and assaulting someone. If it were not Fleck, it would have been someone else. Fleck saves himself from these violent individuals and others from future assaults. He has naturally decided to protect himself against unprovoked violence and no longer allow others to harm him.
The joke is on us
Joker is each and all of us who are at the violent end of globalised capitalism. The joke is on us. We are the laughing stock. We are without individual and collective agency as the social, economic and political contradictions have never been greater in the history of capitalism. ‘Society’ today is an organism comprising human and animal life, the natural environment and the social, economic and political order that we are part of. Yet, this society is fragmenting as the contradictions in our society are at their zenith, and a new order is being ushered in as a natural consequence so as to (literally) save this organism from social and environmental catastrophe.
The repressive state apparatus viz the police and army, are no longer being tolerated by citizenry as agents of the state, imposing laws that serve a globalised economic elite and serve only to reinforce a status quo that is unhealthy for us and our environment.
Extremely divergent views
The fact that there are such extremely divergent views, reactions and reviews about this film is an indication about the mindset of the viewers. This film is about mindsets; the mindset of those who are resistant to the movement for global social, political and economic change and those who embrace it.
Those who embrace it (the need for dramatic change) are aware that our societies are grossly unequal, exploitative and polluting.
The contradictions in society have never been so extreme; and this is what drives the organism that is ‘society’ towards a revolution, a new social order.
Each one of us is the Joker. There are those of us (like Arthur Fleck who against all the painful odds has realised who he is both as an individual as well as in relation to the society in which he exists) are reclaiming our agency as individuals and as a collective and acting together to rescue our world from criminals disguised as politicians.
Where: Ster-Kinekor cinemas