Musings on The Digital Underground, Juice, and Controversial Audiences


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to

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26 Responses

  1. LTL FTC says:

    When I mentioned to my parents I had watched The Warriors on late-night TV (this was the late ‘90s), the first thing they said was that they remember it for starting gang fights at movie theaters when it came out in the late ‘70s. And that movie was a lot closer to West Side Story dance-fighting that Juice.

    Speaking of Juice: subpar movie, excellent Eric B and Rakim song, fine beverage depending on the fruit.Report

  2. Kazzy says:

    Some movies show accurate portrayals of a rough world with a commentary on how fucked up it is.

    Other movies show inaccurate portrayals of imagined victims and glamorize their “plight”.

    I wonder which, if any, of these categories “Joker” will fit into.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Is “Joker is a comic book movie” a reasonable counter-argument to the implication that “movies should show more accurate portrayals of imagined victims” argument or not?

      To what extent is art obliged to reflect Truth-with-a-Capital-T?

      (And that’s without starting a conversation about the accuracy of the portrayal of the rough world in The Warriors, Colors, Angel Town, Godfather III, New Jack City, or Boyz N The Hood.)Report

  3. Kazzy says:

    I don’t think there is any obligation on anyone’s part. But it does seem important to point out these differences.

    To me, there is a pretty big difference between gang members going to see a movie about gang members because, “Hey, a movie about us!” getting into some beef and someone donning a Joker suit and shooting up a theater because, “Hey, the joker had a point.”

    Obviously, I haven’t seen “Joker” yet. But my friend who has wrote this:

    • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

      Tell your friend that a guy you know that wouldn’t have read the article has gone and went to read it and, indeed, is reading the Vanity Fair article now (or was, as of 9/20).

      Okay, apparently, he watched the movie in Italy. “Perhaps it’s a bit easier to accept and digest all this horror in a country where such men seem rarer—or I’m being an over-worried pill, and it’s just a good, startling movie.”

      If Joker results in fewer deaths than the gang banger movies of the 90’s… can we reach any conclusions about opinions about the movies? Or, seriously, do we live in a different society now? Like, if we find that the 2022 Dylann Roof happens to have this DVD in his collection (or Blu Ray, whatever), does that mean that we should have an opinion about the movie similar to the one that we all hold about New Jack City?

      In the meantime, I’m left wondering just how serious this film is meant to be.

      I’m guessing that this is Schrödinger’s Flick.

      If no one dies, then it’s obviously commentary.
      If someone gets shot, then it’s obviously something that we should have done something about.

      Watch it. Hold your breath. Hope the cat is alive.
      Seriously, it looks like it’s going to be pretty good.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        “Results” is a curious word there.Report

        • InMD in reply to Kazzy says:

          There’s an implicit assertion of causation with these things that I find highly dubious. I’d take it more seriously if we had some consistency of application. Instead it’s always a moving target (forgive the pun) where people get to righteously tut tut at some huge, ill defined and amorphous blob of people or ideas and not some other simularly ill defined amorphous blob of people or ideas.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

          I’m deliberately using the passive voice.

          Let’s go back to Juice real quick. Here’s a section from the UPI article:

          Witnesses said the gunfire was sparked by a police search for a mugger who robbed a patron in the theater’s restroom, not by the movie itself.

          If something like this happened with Joker, to what extent would we say “see? Disaffected young males are drawn to this movie, like a moth to the flame!”? To what extent would we say “dude got mugged in the can, would have happened if the theater was showing a Shirley Temple flick”?

          And so just as we are stuck here wondering whether we can meaningfully say that Juice resulted in violence, we’re looking at the upcoming release of Joker holding our collective breath.

          Here’s another fun section from the UPI article:

          Paramount’s Harry Anderson described as ‘isolated incidents’ the violence reported around the country, adding, ‘We’re not sure it’s related to the film.’
          Overall, he said, ‘we had a successful opening.’


          • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

            I went to Medeival Times once. Someone got stabbed in the bathroom. I think that had more to do with the Lyndhurst, NJ setting than the swords-and-sandles setting.

            I agree with InMD. These things are rarely causal. But dressing up as the main bad guy is a decent piece of evidence that it might be.Report

      • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t care if it’s directly causal. That’s not the point. I don’t mind the existence of movies that show the “inside view” of worlds and people I’m not familiar with. For example, films showing gang life can be valuable, because I know little about gang life. I’m certainly not going to join a gang.

        What if a movie shows gang life, but if it is completely false?

        If a movie lies to me, it is bad, because I want to glimpse unfamiliar worlds as they are. Falsehood is bad because I want to know true things.

        So on the topic: movies about “disaffected (not always white) men”?

        Here’s the problem: I already know too much about those guys. It’s been done. In fact, our culture is drenched in that shit.

        Similarly, I don’t want to see a movie about a happy-go-lucky Nathan Forrest analog who gloriously lynches black people. I don’t need to see that. I don’t need another glimpse into that particular human failure. I’ve seen too many.

        Haven’t we all?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

          It’s been 20 years since Fight Club. We were due.

          But, checking Moviefone, it looks like The Current War and The Woman in the Window are also being released on October 4th. So there will be options for those who wish to see new movies in the theater that are not Joker.Report

          • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

            Yes, there are other movies. I would also have the option of watching a different movie if they made a celebratory movie about a guy into lynching black people. I might nevertheless comment about the problems with such a movie.

            Moreover, it’s not just Fight Club, although it was a particularly stark example of the phenomenon. That said, “manpain” is a common enough trope. TV Tropes has a nice list:

            • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

              So Joker is on the same level as a movie about a guy into lynching black people?

              Hrm. That would mean that a movie about a guy into lynching black people would be on the same level as the new DC supervillain origin story.

              Smudging the two concepts together strikes me as something that is far more to the benefit of racists than the detriment of Cape Aficionados… but, as I said, I’m one of the folks looking forward to Joker.

              NPR gave an argument that I found much more dissuasive:

              MONIQUE: I mean, where to start? While the performance was incredible – Joaquin’s performance as Joker…

              CHANG: Joaquin Phoenix.

              MONIQUE: …Is legendary. He did a wonderful job. The script overall I found rather boring as a person who comes from a comic book background. I’m a huge Batman fan, and when you put the villain before the guy in the mask, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I also had a lot of problem with the way poverty is depicted, and then on top of all of that, I think the film just winds up being very boring, kind of slow in the middle. You don’t really feel like you’re gearing toward anything.

              Now *THAT* is how you get someone to not see a movie! Far more effective than accusations of wrongthink on the same level as racism.

              (Pity she had to praise Phoenix on the way there.)Report

              • veronica d in reply to Jaybird says:

                So Joker is on the same level as a movie about a guy into lynching black people?

                No, of course not. It’s more the point: if the argument works for the one, should it not work for the other?

                “You can watch a different movie.”

                True, but so what? I still notice the “manpain” dynamic. I’m free to comment on it.

                “He shot up his school, but he was bullied.”

                “He went on a killing spree, therefore women should have slept with him.”

                These are real opinions I see shared quite often. Perhaps it’s not identical to lynching. On the other hand, “angry chan guy stockpiling weapons for the beta revolution” is his own kind of terrible.


                Now *THAT* is how you get someone to not see a movie! Far more effective than accusations of wrongthink on the same level as racism.

                Am I trying to get people to not watch the movie? I wasn’t aware of that.

                I think I’m more hoping that people who do choose to see the movie will understand the reality of “chan guy” and how he will see the movie. Myself, I was quite surprised at the edgelords who liked Fight Club. The first time I encountered them, I was like, yeah it was a good movie, but don’t you understand that “Operation Mayhem” was full of dipshits and Tyler was an absolute pud? His observations weren’t deep. They were childish.

                They didn’t understand that. He was their hero, in all his banality.


                One can always say, “Gamers rise up! Fuck you, Veronica.” I’d appreciate it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to veronica d says:

                It’s a weird phenomenon that I’ve seen in a lot of places.

                The problem isn’t a particular thing. It’s how some people, other people, will enjoy the thing inappropriately.

                We saw that with the gang movies in the early 90’s. Juice was a pretty good movie! The problem, of course, was the people who shouldn’t have seen it.

                I think I’m more hoping that people who do choose to see the movie will understand the reality of “chan guy” and how he will see the movie.

                Yeah, I didn’t really get into this with the gang movies of the late 80’s, early 90’s, but this argument you’re making is one that mirrors the one made back then too.

                For the record, I thought that Boyz N The Hood was a really good movie.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    The Joker is a hot property and there were about several dozens potential origins story that could have been told. The simplest and least controversial Joker origin story was the gangster suffering from science fiction industrial accident doesn’t make for a long or compelling movie. The Joker was always bad but then he fell into a vat of black magic chemicals and became the monster with a sick sense of humor we all know isn’t going to get big audiences in the seats.* The big problem seems to be that the most compelling of these origins stories are what we can call problematic because they tend to be varieties of down on his luck white man reaching the breaking point and killing many innocent people. I don’t think any Hollywood script writers can make a full length movie about the Joker as an eternal agent of chaos.*

    *I think one of the Joker origins stories had him start as not very good down on his luck stand up comic. If I could write, I see two potential ways to use this background and tell a Joker origin story that might avoid the down on his luck white man breaking issue. One is that the Joker is a criminal that uses a gig in comedy as a cover for his crimes. Something like edgy cartoon writer during the day, gangster by night and then he gets dropped into black magic chemicals. The other is that he might be an ordinary comedian whose quest for material takes him off the deep end with him turning into the Joker. The key is that you need to avoid the down on your luck white man breaking narrative.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    The viral ads are stepping up:


  6. Jaybird says:

    WB is clearing up some things that may not have been clear before:


  7. Jaybird says:

    Okay. This was funny.


  8. Jaybird says:

    Minor update:


  9. Jaybird says:

    And, finally:


    • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      We are officially in late stage accountability-free punditry.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

      And–y’know, people are gonna say “oh, well, you were the one saying we shouldn’t pay attention to some kid posting Nazi white-supremacist transphobic hate speech, you were the one saying that some guy retweeting Tosh.0 didn’t mean anything”, and, yeah, we did say that. But you’re the ones who explained how it Didn’t Matter that time because it was Exhortations To Violence and The Equivalent Of An Attack and Creating A Climate Of Fear and so on.Report

  10. Jaybird says:



  11. Jaybird says:


    The Joker has received 11 Oscar Nominations.

    These include Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing.Report