Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#226 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:42 pm

Hopefully people will actually see the movie and understand how hard this film works to actively condemn such acts while attacking the attachment between icon and viewer on multiple levels, but that’s probably too optimistic.

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Murdoch
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#227 Post by Murdoch » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:00 pm

The audience I saw it with was actually cheering Joker on as he killed, which tainted my experience a fair bit. I'd be interested in revisiting it outside a group setting given your write-up but I'm in no rush to return.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#228 Post by therewillbeblus » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:13 pm

Murdoch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:00 pm
The audience I saw it with was actually cheering Joker on as he killed, which tainted my experience a fair bit. I'd be interested in revisiting it outside a group setting given your write-up but I'm in no rush to return.
That’s incredibly disturbing. During my viewing I constantly searched to find any angle that would leave an opening for such a weaponized interpretation, but just couldn’t see any possible avenue other than some loose sociopolitical material that’s left more ambiguous. I suppose where there’s a will, there’s a way, though I’ll still praise Phillips and just as much Phoenix for his acting choices truly act as the primary barrier to connection for the incel surrogate. You can only try so hard, and they tried their best.

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Brian C
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#229 Post by Brian C » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:55 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:13 pm
That’s incredibly disturbing. During my viewing I constantly searched to find any angle that would leave an opening for such a weaponized interpretation, but just couldn’t see any possible avenue other than some loose sociopolitical material that’s left more ambiguous.
What now? How hard did you really look? The first people he kills
'
SpoilerShow
are pretty much self-defense, as they're beating the shit out of him after he distracted them from preying on the woman in the train. Then in the aftermath we see a media campaign to portray these guys as fallen saints by a shameless jackass billionaire.
How could you possibly not see an "angle that would leave an opening for such a weaponized interpretation"?

For what it's worth, the audience I saw the film with didn't seem to react at all and mostly seemed bored. But maybe I was just projecting my own boredom onto them.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#230 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:12 am

I was going to come in here and write a bunch about this flawed but engaging and compelling film, but therewillbeblus just about took the words right out of my mouth. It is very far from being a perfect film by just about any measure, but it's much less derivative and shameless than I had expected - it stands alone from its obvious influences, and has the admirable aim of merely asking how a person like Fleck might fall though the cracks.

Also, it's shot and set decorated gorgeously - I noticed that Emma Tillinger Koskoff is credited as a producer on this, which is surely a link from Scorsese's initial involvement and a sign of his blessing. And boy, do she and the crew manage to use New York City as an asset in a way most films shot there don't - it's alienating and grimy and there's perpetually a crawling feeling of thousands of rats just offscreen. The scenes in the subway tunnels are excellently done in particular.

Anyway, listen. It's a movie about the fucking Joker. But I think it's much better than it has any right to be.

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furbicide
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#231 Post by furbicide » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:30 am

Murdoch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:00 pm
The audience I saw it with was actually cheering Joker on as he killed, which tainted my experience a fair bit. I'd be interested in revisiting it outside a group setting given your write-up but I'm in no rush to return.
I know it feels bad – I'm certainly someone who's never been able to enjoy on-screen violence, and there's definitely something macabre about being among a baying crowd – but, as with the Tarantino film, isn't it basically true that most people can tell the difference between a film and real life, and that enjoyment of violence on screen (which is, after all, a pretty commonplace human response) doesn't necessarily have anything to do with enjoyment of it in the real world? It's the same reason respectful and consent-focused people are into BDSM and why some women get off to rape erotica; the human capacity to enjoy fantasies and also conceptualise them as such is often overlooked by those disposed to moral panics.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#232 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:33 am

Brian C wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:55 pm
therewillbeblus wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:13 pm
That’s incredibly disturbing. During my viewing I constantly searched to find any angle that would leave an opening for such a weaponized interpretation, but just couldn’t see any possible avenue other than some loose sociopolitical material that’s left more ambiguous.
What now? How hard did you really look? The first people he kills
'
SpoilerShow
are pretty much self-defense, as they're beating the shit out of him after he distracted them from preying on the woman in the train. Then in the aftermath we see a media campaign to portray these guys as fallen saints by a shameless jackass billionaire.
How could you possibly not see an "angle that would leave an opening for such a weaponized interpretation"?
I felt that those initial killings were still distancing and not aligning to any sense of sympathy. The woman looks at him in disgust, and his character is still pathetic throughout the endeavor. It’s not like Taxi Driver where there’s some sense of surrogate connection to moral value before the killings. The aftermath movement is made out to be as deranged as he is from the beginning, and further signifies the dissonance between idol and incels. I dunno, I guess I can see how someone might weaponize the film from those sociopolitical angles, like being kept down and out by systemic oppression, but Phoenix’s Joker didn’t come off as sympathetic or engaging in that scene you describe or any others, contrary to the ‘confidence in nihilism’ that is the defining trait in these incel figures. I thought the filmmakers did a great job at ensuring to the best of their abilities that this figure would not be read as sympathetic, even if we do feel some pity for him, but any sympathy extends to his mental illness and difficult life prior to any murders. Sure, people will weaponize it, but my point is that not only will these be misreadings but failures to acknowledge all the angles that Phillips and Phoenix have looked for and meticulously taken measures to attempt to block access to such readings.

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Murdoch
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#233 Post by Murdoch » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:57 am

furbicide wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:30 am
Murdoch wrote:
Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:00 pm
The audience I saw it with was actually cheering Joker on as he killed, which tainted my experience a fair bit. I'd be interested in revisiting it outside a group setting given your write-up but I'm in no rush to return.
I know it feels bad – I'm certainly someone who's never been able to enjoy on-screen violence, and there's definitely something macabre about being among a baying crowd – but, as with the Tarantino film, isn't it basically true that most people can tell the difference between a film and real life, and that enjoyment of violence on screen (which is, after all, a pretty commonplace human response) doesn't necessarily have anything to do with enjoyment of it in the real world? It's the same reason respectful and consent-focused people are into BDSM and why some women get off to rape erotica; the human capacity to enjoy fantasies and also conceptualise them as such is often overlooked by those disposed to moral panics.
I mean I agree and didn't mean to imply that the audience I saw it with were savage degenerates or anything of the like. But at the same time, it's troubling to see such a response to one particular murder in the film where
SpoilerShow
Fleck suddenly beats a man's head in after the guy came over to ask how Fleck was feeling following his mother's death.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#234 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:12 pm

SpoilerShow
That isn't why he came over - it was to make sure that Fleck wasn't going to tie the gun he used for the subway murders to him in any way by getting him to spill about whether he committed them or not and then going to the police the moment he left - the same way he lied to his boss about where the gun came from. It's the reason he said he came over, but not the actual reason.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#235 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:49 pm

SpoilerShow
This was another great scene that invalidated any glamorized vision of Joker's actions, where he lets Gary, the dwarf, go because he's "always been nice to him" but Gary leaves in complete disgust without any sense of gratitude, similar to the woman on the train appearing equally, if not more, disturbed by Fleck than the men who are harassing her. Each of Joker's actions that could be romanticized are refused such release, and he's even denied the twisted catharsis that could emerge from a response of 'fear stemming from a confident nihilist,' as all his victims or bystanders' fears are clearly rooted in distaste rather than anything that could be misperceived as 'impressed' or 'awed' by his power or abilities. The incels can't even latch onto the ego-inducing notion of becoming self-important through fear, because Phillips and Phoenix refuse any charitable outlet to idolize their Joker.

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Brian C
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#236 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:00 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
SpoilerShow
The incels can't even latch onto the ego-inducing notion of becoming self-important through fear, because Phillips and Phoenix refuse any charitable outlet to idolize their Joker.
SpoilerShow
Except, of course, how he becomes the face of a movement protesting against the rich and powerful oppressors.
Seems like you’re overlooking that major component of the film.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#237 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:02 pm

I agree with your statement in part, therewillbeblus, but there are some shots later in the film that muddy that interpretation. I'm not saying that Phillips goes as far as to venerate Fleck later on, but it's certainly a contrast to the way that bystanders react to him when he's on top of that car or on the steps - surely these are the images that'll be latched onto moreso than reaction shots by witnesses

EDIT: Yes, what Brian said above, in other words

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therewillbeblus
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#238 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:54 pm

I'm not overlooking that so much as disagreeing with any glorified interpretation of the movement. As I said before in my initial post, these protesters are not given faces or allowed an opportunity for alignment either, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that there were active attempts by Phillips to paint these people as problematic and bar any identification with their cause, even if he does also paint the rich as oppressive as well. I can't imagine how viewers could align with these individuals who are robbed of their individuality, or a cause without any dissected merits. Their movement isn't fleshed out beyond
SpoilerShow
spontaneous collaboration following Fleck's brutal subway murders. The entire forming of the movement is a reductive joke that stems from a seemingly random incident, and involves no charity to detailing their points beyond being mad as hell and projecting their anger in unglamorous destructive ways. Rarely has anarchy been so unappealing. I could get behind that component of the film producing intentional or unintentional problematic consequences if it wasn't so objective, bitter, and invalidating in its treatment of this group.
I don't disagree that this occurs in the film, but I don't see the relationship between abhorrent followers to an abhorrent leader within the film translating to subjective audience alignment with any of them, and I think this is where Phillips works so conscientiously at creating that break between audience and their relationship to what's onscreen.

Again, I can see how the incels will attach to whatever they can, as people read movies to fit their own worldview, though my points are that Phillips and Phoenix make this as difficult as possible to engage with on that level and simultaneously mock this reading in terms of actual content onscreen and in the deeper process of identification inherent in the art form.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#239 Post by Murdoch » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:56 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:12 pm
SpoilerShow
That isn't why he came over - it was to make sure that Fleck wasn't going to tie the gun he used for the subway murders to him in any way by getting him to spill about whether he committed them or not and then going to the police the moment he left - the same way he lied to his boss about where the gun came from. It's the reason he said he came over, but not the actual reason.
I should have said ostensibly his reason for coming over, but regardless of the reason for his appearance my audience's reaction was an odd endorsement of Fleck.

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Brian C
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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#240 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:51 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:54 pm
As I said before in my initial post, these protesters are not given faces or allowed an opportunity for alignment either, and it seemed pretty obvious to me that there were active attempts by Phillips to paint these people as problematic and bar any identification with their cause, even if he does also paint the rich as oppressive as well.
Isn't this reading fatally undermined by the existence of Joker as an incel symbol in the first place?

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#241 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:04 pm

Brian C wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:51 pm
Isn't this reading fatally undermined by the existence of Joker as an incel symbol in the first place?
No because I'm speaking specifically to the Joker constructed by Phillips and Phoenix in this film. Not the Joker as a character from other media, which as I said is appealing to incels due to a confidence in nihilism that affords self-fulfilling prophecy, notably absent here in my reading of this film. My entire point is that Joker is deliberately robbed of these traits in this specific presentation of the character. I've also agreed that this Joker will inevitably be weaponized by incels due to the human's ability to morph most anything to fit a desired perspective, but that Phillips and Phoenix choose to weaponize the film against the audience instead, incels included, in a variety of ways that I've outlined already that assault the senses and stunt this process of identification with the incel symbol to the best of their abilities. Phillips and Phoenix can't undo the assignment of Joker as incel symbol, but they can attempt to obstruct it in their own vision.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#242 Post by Foam » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:29 pm

Count me as another viewer who had an incel in the theater whoop and holler and yell "Yes!" when Joker unleashed some particularly disturbing violence onscreen. I thought the film was decent enough at holding my attention, and I really appreciated the way it made 80s New York feel, but I doubt I will ever revisit it. I'm about through with grunge Joker--there are so many other interesting potentials for the character and I hope the next live action iteration is a bit more sleek, classy, and charismatic.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#243 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:47 pm

How does one know they were an incel and not their mortal enemy, some dumb frat dude?

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#244 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:51 pm

The word "incel" has become stretched past the point of any meaning whatsoever. Anyone I've ever met who'd qualify for the descriptor wouldn't be making a sound in a movie theater, or in public in general

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#245 Post by Big Ben » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:54 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:47 pm
How does one know they were an incel and not their mortal enemy, some dumb frat dude?
This is an important distinction to make. Incels were bad enough that Reddit banned their themed subreddit due to violent threats and other things I don't dare type. This is markedly different than than some guy cheering in a theater.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#246 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:56 pm

Yeah I've been using it incorrectly as an umbrella term to describe all those who latch onto identification with this toxic persona, which may actually be anti-incels (i.e champions of toxic masculinity), so my bad (sorry incels).

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#247 Post by ford » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:57 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:47 pm
How does one know they were an incel and not their mortal enemy, some dumb frat dude?
Considering the artistic success of Joker along with its surprising political sophistication (far in advance of anything we've seen from critical faves of the past 5 years) alongside Phillips own fratty background? I'm starting to think I might be underestimating what the fratbros are capable of.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#248 Post by Brian C » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:39 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:04 pm
No because I'm speaking specifically to the Joker constructed by Phillips and Phoenix in this film. Not the Joker as a character from other media, which as I said is appealing to incels due to a confidence in nihilism that affords self-fulfilling prophecy, notably absent here in my reading of this film. My entire point is that Joker is deliberately robbed of these traits in this specific presentation of the character. I've also agreed that this Joker will inevitably be weaponized by incels due to the human's ability to morph most anything to fit a desired perspective, but that Phillips and Phoenix choose to weaponize the film against the audience instead, incels included, in a variety of ways that I've outlined already that assault the senses and stunt this process of identification with the incel symbol to the best of their abilities. Phillips and Phoenix can't undo the assignment of Joker as incel symbol, but they can attempt to obstruct it in their own vision.
But you're also talking about how real-world audiences can be expected to react to the film. And along these lines, you said that audiences are distanced from the Joker because the rioters in the film who emulate him are "not given faces or allowed an opportunity for alignment".

To start with, I frankly don't have the foggiest idea of what you mean by them "not allowed an opportunity for alignment". How could a film possibly not allow an audience to react in any number of ways? Audiences are not a monolithic force and even the most obvious and/or skillful attempts by filmmakers to steer audience reactions are going to be met subjectively. Simply put, filmmakers can't "allow" or "not allow" anything. The same goes for your earlier assertions that the filmmakers didn't "leave an opening" for audiences to react a certain way, and that the filmmakers did such-and-such to "ensure" a certain reaction, as if audiences need the filmmakers' permission to see the film in their own way, or as if audiences' reactions are somehow invalid if the filmmakers intended something different. All you're really doing, though, is projecting your own preferences and subjective reactions and prior assumptions onto others (and conveniently, doing so in a way that puts yourself in a position of conspicuous moral superiority).

But my previous point is that your assertion that making the rioters faceless will alienate audiences from them is pure nonsense, and to this end, Joker's existing pop-culture status is absolutely relevant. The filmmakers have free license, of course, to do what they want with this character, and I agree with you that they should not necessarily be beholden to previous incarnations. But nonetheless, we know that, contrary to your assertion, being masked and anonymized does not serve as an alienating device - and we know this precisely because the Joker is already widely emulated by disgruntled and disaffected precisely because he is a nameless and faceless agent of chaos. But use other examples if you wish - Guy Fawkes, Rorschach, Michael Myers, Ghostface ... basically any masked villain or antihero ever. Even Tyler Durden works as an example, because while technically not faceless, he does manifest as a disassociation from an identity that is seen as weak and powerless.

I think you're making a fundamental error in seeing them as "faceless". The opposite is true - they're wearing Joker masks. That is an identity onto itself, a symbol of the disaffected and forgotten. That is extremely powerful imagery that works, for a lot of people, in exactly the opposite way you are claiming.

And besides, where do you get the idea that individualism is a key aspirational feature of fascist movements anyway? The key to fascist movements is finding a leader to follow, and that's precisely the story that this movie tells. It's not incidental that "this Joker will inevitably be weaponized by incels" - the film is ready-made to those interpretations: it tells the story of an overlooked man who's been cast aside from a corrupt society that's rigged against him, who rises up against his oppressors and inspires the vast mobs to throw off their shackles and do the same. How in the world do you think a handful of easily overlooked "distancing" effects used by the filmmakers can possibly override a narrative like that? Are you sure it's the incels who are demonstrating "the human's ability to morph most anything to fit a desired perspective"?

Fortunately, I should add that I don't actually see the movie as a huge threat to the fabric of society or anything, because at the end of the day it's hugely goddamned dull.

P.S. re: the incel discussion that happened while I was typing this - I think "incel" is the proper term here. This Joker is not a dumb frat dude. But one of the reasons the film is so dull may be because Phillips is a dumb frat dude.

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#249 Post by domino harvey » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:56 pm

Brian C wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:39 pm
P.S. re: the incel discussion that happened while I was typing this - I think "incel" is the proper term here. This Joker is not a dumb frat dude. But one of the reasons the film is so dull may be because Phillips is a dumb frat dude.
An bold position to take, but no one said he was. I was just pointing out that someone talking to the screen in a theatre could just as easily be some drunk bro as an incel and so it's prob not a good idea to assume a stranger's party (we don't want to be invited to) membership

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Re: Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)

#250 Post by mfunk9786 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:13 pm

It was Jill Stein

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