Joker Faces Harsh Criticism Over Controversial Topics

With DC’s release of the film Joker, critics have been fast to note that the movie is gritty and disturbing. The movie deals with various issues such as mental illness, eating disorders, classism and abuse. These hard-hitting topics shocked audiences and even had such an impact that some members had to leave their theater.  

     The movie centers around the main character of Arthur Flecker and his struggle to fit in with society. He struggles with a condition that causes him to burst into laughter. Along with this condition, he also suffers from delusions of a fantasized reality involving his hero, Murray Franklin, a talk show host, and his neighbor, Sophie Dumond.

     “Everything about the storytelling- the ominous, booming score; the gritty darkness; the invasive sound- is designed to be oppressive, and to push the audience toward Arthur’s point of view as the primary victim of all the oppression. Phillips delivers that message in a self-congratulatory way, largely by setting the film in a world where Arthur has no choice but violence, and no escape but madness. He’s portrayed as a kind of dark truth teller because he’s learned that the world is a joke, and nothing matters,” said The Verge, news and media network.

     Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Flecker and does a scarily excellent job of portraying a troubled and abused clown who only wants a place in society. Controversy surrounding the film concerns the way the Flecker’s actions echo those of mass shooters. His actions bombard audiences with emotions because they feel uncomfortable and anxious at the same time.

    Sydney Hatton ’22 said, “The movie messed with you psychologically because you are persuaded to sympathize with a killer, due to the scenes regarding his troubled past.” As Flecker’s troubling past involves child abuse from his parents, it is hard not to feel for his pain.

     Other people were upset about how the movie has nothing to do with the Batman collection, even though the Joker is apart of it. When entering a AMC theater, AMC’s poster warns “JOKER: This is not your typical comic book film and is only intended for mature audiences.” This caused audiences to wonder why this movie was significant enough to be released this year.     

     A critic from the Verge questioned, “Do we really need another Joker story so soon after Suicide Squad?” The critic also said, “The Joker [is] full of dangerous ideas that will spur its worst fans to murder.” With this new movie, audiences have seen at least six different adaptations of the classic character. All portrayals of the Joker are completely different from one another.

Regarding Fletcher’s mental illness, he takes seven different types of medication, which much more than normal dosage amounts. With this high of a medicine intake, audiences can infer that he seriously struggles with his mind and the thoughts and feelings he has.     

      Considering a positive side to this film, the story brings awareness to the dangers of mental illness. It is vital for people to be aware of how mental illnesses are serious, and that they can cause severe damage. It is important to receive proper help if someone is suffering from a mental illness. If they do not, they may act out on those feelings and cause mayhem.      

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