Why 'Joker' Does More Harm Than Good
Last week at Rocky Horror, we performed the movie as horror characters. Every character was played by a horror icon- Carrie/Columbia, Eddie/Jason, Mummy/Rocky, etc. I was Pennywise/Frank, which meant putting on heaps of clown makeup.
What I didn’t expect to hear that week was, “don’t leave the dressing room in full makeup”.
There were rumors that a mass shooting was going to happen somewhere in the country at a screening of Joker. These hypothetical shooters were expected to be in clown makeup- just like the makeup I was wearing. We wanted to play it safe so we didn’t get any complaints from other moviegoers.
Now, me being a very anxious person, this made me not want to see Joker. Shootings are something I worry about constantly. Not only do I perform in movie theatres every week, but I also grew up around a dad who stockpiled guns in our house. Guns in general just freak me out, but my feelings on gun control are something for another blog post.
I was very anxious, and didn’t want to see the movie. My boyfriend talked me into it, telling me that it would be safe and that nothing was going to happen. So I went.
Part of me wishes I didn’t go. The beginning of the movie I sadly related to a little too much having once been:
Mentally ill and without treatment
Isolated and without friends
A struggling comedian
I really didn’t like what I was seeing. Obviously, Arthur/Joker was going through a very extreme version of all of this, so the first part of the movie really hurt me.
Then the first kill happened. After building the audience up with a sense of empathy for the character, it almost feels like a sigh of relief when he shoots someone in self-defense. Then it all just spirals downward from there.
The character suddenly doesn’t have access to treatment and medication. So what does he do? Kill a ton of people. I know that The Joker has always been an icon, but seeing his evilness come from a place of mental illness and bullying is very harmful.
I’ve NEVER been the type to criticize movies for being too dark. I saw I Spit on Your Grave and Last House on the Left when I was 13, and even then appreciated these movies for what they were. I don’t even think Joker is a bad movie- it was very well-made and Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic. But this movie, in THIS political and social climate, worries me.
I’ve always felt grossed out by the romanticization of The Joker and Harley Quinn. Joker brought this to another level. I don’t even care if this makes me sound like a normie, but I am genuinely concerned about what this movie can inspire.
Sorry for the more negative post. Being a mental health advocate, I felt the need to address my thoughts publicly. Please tell me your thoughts- I would love to hear different perspectives.
Take care of yourselves.