A movie like Joker makes you think about the balance between society and individual
I saw the latest Joker movie today and it made me feel things I never thought I was capable of feeling. For instance, I never thought I could understand the mind of a killer. But after watching this movie I am asking myself some very serious questions.
The movie showed the transition of Arthur Fleck into Joker. At the same time, it was showing the transformation of Gotham. The society and the individual were mirroring each other.
‘Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?’ – Arthur Fleck (Joker)
An individual’s choices are mostly guided by their internal value system and the circumstances they are surrounded with. A rich man will not steal but a poor man might steal to feed his starving family. Both will have the same moral value that innocent should not die. For a poor, this moral justifies his actions to save his innocent child. The rich on the other hand may start a foundation to feed hungry children.
A society is made up of individuals and their actions. We see the average of all the actions. If there are more rich people then we will see more people feeding the starving. On the other hand, if there are more poor people then more people will end up taking drastic measures just to survive.
The movie starts at the point when Gotham as a city is going down a negative spiral. The government doesn’t have money to pay its employees which is leading to strikes and discontinuation of essential services like garbage collection. Eventually, other state-sponsored programs which support the poor mostly are being discontinued.
Arthur at this point is aware of his negative thoughts and is fighting his demons. He is asking for help. He wants to stop feeling these negative thoughts all the time.
‘All I have are negative thoughts.’ – Arthur Fleck (Joker)
Arthur’s hallucinations show his deepest desires. In the Murry’s show, he was imagining to get some approval and validation for himself. All he wanted was someone to hug him and say that you are doing your best and you are doing a good job. When he hallucinates a relationship with his neighbour, he is just looking for love and understanding. He is just craving for companionship just like the rest of us.
Society averages out all the good and bad and forms a set of rules that is somewhere in the average. It forces individuals to behave so that the average remains the same. When someone comes around and refuses, the average changes.
The moment Arthur shot the people who were bullying not just him but everyone around, the average changed. Many people agreed with what he did because they too wanted to do the same but were stopped only by the society’s average rules.
I am not arguing if what happened was right or wrong. All I am saying is that as the scaffolding holding Arthur out of the darkness started scrambling, the same thing was happening to the city as well.
The entitled kept blaming the deprived for every wrong that was happening in the city. But none of them did anything to bring the balance back to their definition of normal.
Thomas Wayne’ comment about the people who were not well off and calling them clowns was the fuel the city’s fire needed. For me, Thomas’s character was a narcissistic egotistical rich man who has no idea whats going on in the city. His comments that he was the only one who can save the city just showed his hero complex.
‘For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice.’ – Arthur Fleck (Joker)
We all know how it feels when no one is listening. When it feels like nothing we do matters. When no one notices us. And when they finally do it is to make fun of us, to bully us, to hurt us.
When the boy who was bullied all his life takes a gun and shoots his bullies before killing himself, we all say that his mental illness made him do that. No one questions why the mental illness came in the first place. No one questions the kids who bully him or the adults who fail to provide a safe environment. No one even questions the ease of access to guns. If someone is a threat to themselves and others, then at least keep the weapons away from them.
When Arthur is given a gun he mentions that he is not supposed to have it. His ‘friend’ says who will know and encourages him to carry it for his protection. If Arthur became Joker then they all have a role to play. The bullies who beat him up just for fun and the ‘friend’ who thought a gun is a solution to all his problems.
The movie shows more people who forced Arthur to become Joker. Everyone who made fun of him. Everyone who hurt him. Everyone who broke one more thing that was holding him together.
After a point, Arthur just embraced his negative thoughts. He was just tired of fighting his demons. More than tired he saw no reason to avoid the negative thoughts. He reached a point where nothing mattered to him anymore.
The brilliance of the movie was showing that he was not the only one reaching that state and becoming Joker. The entire city was becoming one.
‘The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.’ – Arthur Fleck (Joker)
We all have negative thoughts and we do everything we can to keep them away from us. Family, friends and society, in general, helps in that. But after a certain point, there is no return.
The society too gets negative thoughts but does everything it can to keep it in check; law and order help as well. But after a point, the Gotham City too decided that they don’t want to fight and stay good anymore. They too stopped fighting their inherent nature and that led to the city burning.
We see the transition of both Arthur and Gotham to something more sinister.
Joker is the deadliest villain because he is not after riches or to kill anyone in particular. He is just manifestation of chaos. We all have this chaos within us but we keep it in check. Joker shows what will happen when it is unleashed.
This movie is a masterpiece. Acting, direction, everything, in fact, is simply something out of this world.