And He Thinks It’s Funny: Joker



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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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    My original tagline for the post was “Content Warning: Tobacco Use”.Report

  2. Avatar Mark says:

    I haven’t seen this film. I never worried about the sanity of the Joker for the same reason that I never worried why Batman never encountered a criminal who was strong enough to beat him in a fistfight. I never thought that Batman and the Joker were “real” in the same way that Anna Karenina seems “real” to me. Comic books validated my idea that the fearful and puny being of my prepubescence was merely a disguise hiding my true identity of someone who was powerful and mattered. If I am to believe that the Joker is mentally ill, it would mean that he has a mind, a soul, and is “real.” Then I would have to regard the people he kills as real and open my heart to their pain and suffering. I’d rather see Coyote flattened by an anvil to get up and continue the chase three seconds later.Report

  3. Avatar Brent F says:

    I’ve heard it said that you don’t win awards for the “best” acting/directing/writing etc. but for doing the “most.”

    Joaquin Phoenix is very much doing the most acting here.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    Agreed; Heath Ledgers Joker wasn’t crazy; no one who could plan like that can be called crazy. He was more like a demonic entity or a person possessed by the same. In the Dark Knight returns comic when Batman kills the Joker he narrates that whatever was in him rustled as it left his dead body. I think that would have applied to Ledgers Joker.

    I have been profoundly disapproving of this Joker origin story concept movie in general because I felt that any form of origin story would be utterly inadequate and would diminish the character or glorify it in a horrible way. Do you think it did that?Report

    • Avatar Brent F says:

      I think it skirts that problem by being the story of a more mundane mentally ill and marginalized spree killer, and not a plausible origin story for a charismatic and capable mass murderer like the other Jokers. So largely diminishment.

      This dude would be a couple hours work, maybe a night or two, job for even the least capable versions of Batman.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        One thing they did that was kinda funny and comic booky was that they established that Joker could take a beating. So, sure, Batman could take him out and beat the crap out of him. Joker would be ready for more tomorrow night, though.Report

      • Avatar Fish says:

        I look at it this way: Much in the same way that Ben Affleck’s Batman in Justice League was very much a Batman past his prime, this Joker is newly-minted and not yet the Joker who will become Batman’s nemesis.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      My idea of the Joker is that he’s part of an argument against Batman.

      Batman represents some vague form of cheating on the part of civilization in service to civil society and Joker represents some form of the argument that the institutions are failures and we’re in some weird cartoon-logic place where we’ve already walked over the cliff and we won’t fall until we look down and he’s telling us to look down.

      Plus some weird obsession thing on Joker’s part.

      This Joker is a “real” one. The character is diminished by becoming real, I suppose, in the same way that a “real” Batman would be. You know how in Quentin Tarantino movies, he sometimes alternates between absurd violence that is funny and “real” violence that is horrifying? This movie has all of the violence being the horrifying kind without any of the funny violence. As such, Joker isn’t really glorified beyond the Truffautian “to depict a thing is to glorify it” sense of the term.

      Inadequate? I dunno. It’s like they decided to finally make a mentally ill Joker. And I realize that I prefer my Jokers to be archetypes.

      It was a really good movie… it’s just that Joker isn’t improved by reality.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yes, that seemed to be the Dark Knight Rises position too IIRC. Joker went basically catatonic during the long years when Bruce hung up the cape then revived with a vengeance once Batman re-emerged.

        I like your analysis and agree. Joker isn’t a concept that can survive outside comic books or their themed movies very well.Report

  5. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I’ve seen a theory, and I’m not sure how true this is but its something that as a lot of truthiness to this, that the Joker movie might have started life as a generic slasher movie and the Joker got slapped on later to make money.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I wasn’t the only one to make the comparison, but the first thing I thought of when they were talking about Joker was Todd Phillips’s first movie, “Hated”, about G.G. Allin, which was arguably also about someone suffering from mental illness who goes on to make the world suffer, and the people around him who think it’s funny.

    It’s debatable whether or not G.G. Allin was “acting”, although I’ve heard someone recently make a really plausible argument that he was suffering from a brain tumor. Anyway, it’s not a movie I’d “recommend” per se, but it’s better than the comedies Phillips has done and, in interviews, he’s been making the comparison to Joker apparently.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Jeez, I only knew him as the “Hangover” guy. I didn’t know that he was the Borat guy (or one of the Borat guys).

      Andy Kaufmann’s bastard children using their tricks on us even now.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I saw the film at a midnight screening in a little arthouse theatre in DC (long gone) when it first made the rounds and, wow, was that weird! It was me in this little arthouse theatre and everyone else in the audience was a skinhead. I imagine the Hangover audience is different.Report

  7. Avatar Fish says:

    Joker felt like someone took “The Downward Spiral” and turned it into a move.Report

  8. Avatar Marek says:

    for me Heath Ledger was crazy Joker! Why not? I don’t understantReport