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The Joker: A Social Commentary

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Todd Phillips’s long awaited “The Joker” has finally hit theaters worldwide last weekend, and for the first time, in the longest time, massive amounts of people are lined up, rushing to buy their tickets. This psychological thriller starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker, sets the clown prince in his pre-revelation days, before he became the universally-known “The Joker”, as we’ve seen him to be in earlier Batman flicks. Although it is centered on a character from the superhero universe, this film is far from being a superhero movie.

We are being introduced to “Arthur Fleck”, a young, troubled and mentally-ill man, suffering from a disorder that causes him to laugh at inappropriate times. Set in Gotham City, in 1981, Arthur is tormented daily by the harshness of society around him, living with his mom in a tiny apartment that barely fits the two and working as a badly-payed party clown. When he gets fired from his job and loses the only source to his medication, we witness Arthur’s slow decent into madness, until finally seeing his transition into The Joker, a transition we’ve already seen a long time ago in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, easy to say that Arthur Fleck and Travis Bickle are two that definitely share DNA.

The Joker: A Social Commentary


As Taxi Driver can serve as a certain social commentary on society in the 70s, The Joker can definitely mirror the dangers of our modern society, showing us how the people's ignorance of the unfortunate can and will create a character resembling the Joker, actually it already has, multiple times.

Despite its roots in the superhero genre, this film is far more concerned with how evil is manifested in the real world rather than in the comic book universe, offering a convincing portrayal of not only the product of society, but equally the urban decay of the society itself. Showing us how we create the world we live in and the world we live in also creates us, and that is the universality of this very movie, it will not only reach superhero fans, but everyone else too.

Article by: Nasma Younes

Nasma Younes

Nasma Younes

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