If you haven’t seen it, don’t read this post.
When Joker first came out in theaters, I wasn’t interested in watching it. In fact, I haven’t been interested in watching any of the Batman movies since the 90’s. The only reason why I wanted to watch Joker was because of the controversy. I was curious as to why people thought this movie was going to create future violence with regards to mass shootings.
So I decided to watch it. And I cried. A lot.
Why? Because I was very sympathetic and empathetic to the adversity Arthur Fleck endured all of his life. Also, I was quite disappointed with the fact that the majority of people who watched this film labeled Arthur as a malicious evil psychopathic killer and deemed him as the “bad guy”.
I went into watching this movie with an open mind even though I had read so many stories that lead me to believe that this guy was actually malicious in nature. Well, he wasn’t.
So here is this guy, Arthur Fleck, who was abandoned as a baby, adopted by Penny (who was diagnosed with a mental disorder) that neglected him and allowed her boyfriend to abuse him during his childhood, which caused his uncontrollable laughing disorder. He then has to live with this awkward and embarrassing disorder and is bullied and beaten multiple times. Not only that, he loses his job because he was betrayed by someone who acted like his friend, loses his access to therapy and medication due to cuts in funding, rejected by someone he thinks is his father, finds out his mother betrayed him his whole life and is humiliated on live television by someone he looked up to as a fatherly figure (Murray Franklin).
To me, this is too much for any human to remain “sane”. Having to endure heavy doses of abandonment, abuse, neglect, rejection, betrayal and humiliation from the people you feel the most connected to is the ultimate slap in the face. And for anyone to judge Arthur as malicious in nature should strongly re-evaluate their opinion. If you want to see who I feel is malicious in nature, watch We Need to Talk About Kevin.
I feel Arthur was a kind person in nature right from the get go because it was mentioned that he was a happy little boy. He also took really good care of his mother, and tried his best to make people laugh, especially children. He also daydreamed multiple times about being able to have connections with other people without any malicious intent. And this is why I cried: Arthur was a kind person who’s only goal in life was to feel accepted.
As far as the ending and all killings that were done, I was not surprised by them. Was it justified? My own moral code of ethics says no, but my logical side says yes.
Why do I feel this way?
Arthur obviously had empathy because of who he chose to kill and who he chose to not kill. He had a moral code of ethics. And by observation of who he killed and why, it’s obvious that he did not kill Sophie even though it was not shown. The fact that people wonder about whether he did or not still boggles my mind. It was clear who he sought revenge against. His code of ethics only allowed him to seek revenge against those who wronged him.
My own moral code of ethics doesn’t allow me to kill anyone, unless it happens out of self defense. I don’t even abide by capital punishment, especially due to the fact that there are people who have been wrongly convicted. I’ve always felt that human lives are very sacred, and even though human nature can get really brutal, no one should be killed with intention.
As far as my logical side saying yes, I feel that the killings were bound to happen due to cause and effect. The human brain experiences multiple kinds of emotions ranging from love to hate. Emotions are energy and Arthur could experience both. Unfortunately, Arthur experienced a ridiculous amount of energy that was towards the higher scale of hate, which is why he had “enough” and sought revenge as a way to alleviate all the negative energy that had built up within him.
The killings and violence in the movie would never have happened if Arthur was offered many opportunities to experience emotions towards the higher scale of love than hate. But unfortunately, as sad as this is, humans are very judgmental in nature and the default mode network in our brains are set on negative emotions. I learned that through Rick Hansen’s book, Hardwiring Happiness. It’s a great introductory book on neuroscience and neuroplasticity and actually helped me to observe the people who mistreated Arthur as well as Arthur’s decision to seek revenge.
This book also taught me that the human brain can pick up on negative situations and react to them faster than positive situations, which is why there are more negative feedback towards this movie than positive ones. If people took the time to pay attention to Arthur’s point of view then they could see that he was the true victim in this movie not the villain.
Overall, Joker was beyond phenomenal and it definitely deserves multiple Oscars. Heck, it’s already topped over $1 billion in the box office. Bravo! It’s enlightening and definitely shook me to the core! There couldn’t have been a better actor to portray Arthur Fleck than Joaquin Phoenix! Cheers!
Photo: Beginning scene of Arthur Fleck in the movie Joker via IMDb