The unforeseen and continuous rippling effect of a character molded in 1951

For so long, I’ve deeply pondered over the differences between a rebel and an anarchist. Without the aid of literature or wiki, I wanted to come to my own conclusion by just analyzing the events unfolding in today’s society. Foolish you might say. What you might not realize is, sometimes, it pays to be calm in the mind and let it figure things without the influence of another. Only then can you claim that your conclusion was the product of your own understanding. Unfortunately, I never got to that conclusion and was compelled to search through google for the differences after recently watching the controversial and critically acclaimed film – Joker.

This is going to be a lengthy piece, so strap yourselves in and enjoy the read.

Prior to my trip to watch one of DC’s most iconic villain in his debut origin film, I constantly browsed the internet for articles pertaining to the Joker. After endless clicks, a few articles caught my attention. Why? Because they all shared the same exact theme – “Joker the movie should not be screened to the public due to the fear that it might entice violence and anarchy.” To combat this fear, it was reported in multiple articles that selected movie theaters would be provided with adequate to robust security detail if deemed necessary. As I read those articles, I just had to raise my eyebrows. Then, the lightbulb in my mind quickly illuminated and I instantly recalled the violent incident which occurred during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012 at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. The assailant set off tear gas grenades and shot into the audience killing twelve civilians in the process. A tragic moment.

And yet, 7 years later, the release of Joker not only brought back those horrific memories but also planted a dose of fear in the minds of many. But why Joker? A plethora of violent films have been released to the public in the past 7 years and I can’t think of one who forced cities to mobilize police officers to monitor selected movie theaters screening Joker. What is it about this character that has so many people frightened? After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

Well, before we get to answer the questions above, here’s my abbreviated experience going to and returning from seeing Joker.

It’s noon on a Friday. I pull into the parking lot of the movie where I reside. Sorry, can’t say the name. (Now that would be foolish). However; I won’t leave you hanging and will sprinkle in a very important detail. I live in one of the safest cities on the eastern coast. It’s so safe you could leave your car open at night and wake up the next morning to find your belongings still intact. Now back to the story. I pull into the lot and the first thing I see is a police vehicle. Mind you, I’m a frequent movie goer to that specific theater and I’ve never seen a police vehicle outside of that theater. I walk into the movie theater and there she is pacing back and forth in full uniform. “Man, this is serious!” – I said to myself going into the theater. I get my ticket, walk into the showing room and noticed no more than 15 people. I sit and voila, the movie begins. Truthfully speaking, from the beginning of the movie to the end, I felt quite uncomfortable. So much so it gave me a slight headache. But, oddly enough, the uncomfortable feeling was not negative. On the contrary, it was a positive experience. A positive experience which propelled me to think. (Maybe a little too much) The narrative set forth and displayed to the audience that Friday afternoon was a brilliant masterpiece.  A time piece depicting the rapid degeneration of a man who was once abused a child. A man who’s mentally unstable and desperately looked to find comfort in the happiness of others. Instead, he was ridiculed and tormented to the brink of no return. In the process, this man commits a string of murders and realizes that his happiness and tranquility lies solely within that morbid lifestyle. Coincidentally, he unintentionally births a movement. A movement not bred by rebellion but of pure anarchy, hence becoming the prince of crime and Batman’s greatest foe.

So, what is it about this character that has so many people frightened? – I previously asked. After all, he’s just a comic book character, right?

In my opinion, I wholeheartedly believe this fear comes from the fact that this could indeed play out in today’s society. “Are you saying someone could become the joker in real life? What are you smoking? I’m out!” – You say. Before you storm out, look closely at the gem and analyze the fragment within.  Mental illness has plagued our society for so long. In the past it was brush off as nothing but a phase. In modern society, after countless of violent incidences, strides are being made to better understand the intricacies of the human brain. Yet, as the movie narrated, for those who do not have access to decent health care, they can’t and may never receive the proper treatment or medication to cure them or soothe their mental afflictions. And when left uncheck, awful repercussions soon follow.

A man or a woman with similar mental afflictions as the Joker may not start a rebellion or an uprising based solely on anarchy as shown in the movie (doubt anyone would even have the courage or energy to leave their homes nowadays if something of the sort did occur) but he or she may be pushed to the brink of committing horrific acts similar to the Aurora theater or the Sandy Hook shooting.

When Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane created Joker, I have no idea if their intentions were to spread the awareness of mental illness in our society. 68 years later, the character not only withstood the test of time, it served as a well needed reboot for the failing DCEU and a wakeup call for all of us to take mental illness very seriously.

Now with that said, will I be watching Joker a second time? No. I loved it the first time. I will be listening to the epic score repeatedly on my way to work. But, I will not be watching it a second time. In my eyes, it is a truly tragic story meant for one viewing only. That’s just my opinion however; don’t let me rain on your parade. “After all, life is nothing but a comedy.” – Joker.

On a side note: It would be such a bold move and frankly quite amazing for Warner Bros to set their new Batman film in this universe. A time piece story for Batman would be epic.

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