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  • I can't talk about three out of those five, but on the two I know, it's worth noting that presentational context goes a long way.

    John Wick isn't sold as a story with a concern for the morality or ethics of the story it tells, and is actually careful to curtail any "instruction manual aspects". We can relate to John, but his circumstances are clearly fantastical, with John living a lifestyle most of the normal viewing audience aren't going to easily project themselves on, living in a hidden world with it's own rules, special currencies, even language. The action is artistic and stylistic rather than simply brutal, clearly balletic in a way that most people know they couldn't pull off. We can connect to John's pain, but the doesn't translate that into a point of conversation, rather keeping it to merely characterize John. The rest of the film goes is more interesting in presenting violence in the same way a painting or dance is put together and shown rather than using to direct or comment. It can be argued that this romanticism is it's own problem, but even if watching the show didn't make it clear that John Wick doesn't have the grounds for people to use it as legitimacy, a lot of the conversation around the trilogy makes it clear a lot of people take it as a "Well that was cool thing" and not a lot more.

    The Punisher, by constrast, is a franchise that is concerned with the morality and ethics of the violence it portrays and the people who enact it-but while some runs of the franchise definitely get problematic with it's messaging, the Punisher on the whole is pretty openly intended to be about the conversation and weighing pros and cons through hypothetical scenarios. Central to this is that the Punisher never has the full benefit of always being right, with having clear space where we are to see his actions in a negative light as well as situations where he seems justified, as well as space in-media, through portrayal and character interactions, to questions both sides of that. He has the benefit of having started off as a antagonistic anti-hero to Spiderman and very quickly became an clear anti-hero in his own runs. The franchise is also notable for having a nuanced discussion about what leads people to violence, frequently talking about the psychological and sociological circumstances that lead and don't lead to it-notably, Daredevil Season 2's episode Semper Fidelis received accolades from the Got Your 6 organization for Frank's insistence that his legal defense didn't perpetuate stereotypes about veteran PTSD, noting that he wasn't going to let his actions run the risk of being used to perpetuate problems in our society.

    Joker, meanwhile...doesn't have the luxury of background, and with that the presentation, to wear legitimacy. He's one of the most iconic villains of all time, and his participation in any activity usually belies either an inherent malevolence in the activity to begin with or broadcasts his intention to warp it to his ends. Throughout multiple portrayals across several distinct movements in the American comics scene, the main consistent feature of Joker is his glee in harming and harassing individuals and systems-sometimes assigned to mere sadism and cruelty, sometimes assigned to sociological and psychological factors-but the key factor is that his backstory, his motivations and intentions and damage, no longer matter to the violence he perpetuates. The Killing Joke is one of the most iconic backstories offered for him, but in that same story we get the iconic bit about his past being multiple choice, which on top of a nod to all the ways that story changed over years is one of the cementing factors that the Joker isn't here to be a legitimate character. He may make legitimate points, but they are all to the service of his center point-that his sense of humor is satisfied in the affliction of others- Joker himself is not there to fight for a better world not there to fight for better mental health care or improved societal conditions or things of the like.

    And where Joker, the recent movie, falls flat in this portrayal is that it sets up that sort of idea, in that a lot of the higher points made and revolutions incited are all the result of accidents and rash decisions on Arthur's part, but then at the end leans into him taking up those issues and causes as his mantle. It's not "Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You'd turn it off when I was halfway across!", it's "You get what you deserve." Instead of manipulating those trends and movements as an excuse to get his kicks, he instead becomes their paragon.

    There's something of a hard but actually sort of good point to think made with the movie, and if it were any other movie, "Maybe people with mental health issues need to take harder steps to get society to take them seriously" could be a grim and bitter but thoughtful idea to portray and contemplate-but the Joker's story, who he is at all times, ruins that read. We don't wonder if he goes too or not enough by the end. We know this is the guy who would, in almost incarnation, bedevil, harass, and brutalize people for no real reason asides from the fact it's funny to him, that it's ironic maybe, but ultimately his joy.

    At his core, he's the ugliness of schadenfreude at it's extremes, cathartic transgressions shown outside of the safe spaces to relieve tensions to instead solidly demonstrate that fictional violence is only acceptable in their fictional contexts. He's our desire to punch someone in the face because they made said something stupid, that knowledge we would feel good in someway if we just broke this dude's arm. A lot of people's favorite Joker moments include him maiming or inconveniencing people for the most banal or petty reasons for exactly that.

    Like I said, the main tragedy of the Joker movie is that it missed the joke.


    Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
    Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

    Comment


    • As I understand it, the reason why Joker and Batman make such perfect arch enemies, is because they represent the polar opposite of each other's philosophy. The Joker believes that deep down, everybody in the world is just as fucked up as he is. All it takes is "one bad day" to push them over the edge. Batman, on the other hand, believes that nobody is beyond hope of saving, their evil deeds are a product of their environment, and not something they are predisposed to doing.

      Neither Batman nor Joker can bring themselves to kill the other, because doing so would invalidate their philosophy. If Batman can't reform the Joker, then it means that he accepts the idea that some people can't be saved, and that killing people in the name of the greater good is justified. If Joker kills Batman, then it means he accepts the idea that people are not predisposed to madness, and his descent into it was the result of his own weak will and moral failings.

      Batman and Joker NEED each other, because they both remind each other of what they're fighting to prove. There's a reason why in some stories, Joker gives up his life of crime after Batman is finally defeated. He doesn't see any point in doing it anymore. Batman is, ironically, the biggest enabler for Joker's twisted mentality. Because as long as Batman refuses to break, the Joker will continue to devise ever more destructive attempts to finally push him over the edge.
      Last edited by Nyrufa; 10-10-2019, 01:52 PM.

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      • I’d argue that they’re opposites in more than just terms of philosophy - Batman as a character is almost entirely defined by his backstory (hence why we the audience can never stop being reminded of what happened to Thomas and Martha Wayne), where with the Joker, who he was before genuinely isn’t important to him.

        One more reason we didn’t need this movie.

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        • Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
          One more reason we didn’t need this movie.
          ...ok, stop.

          Did people miss the memo that the Joker movie is basically an Elseworlds story? That this is supposed to be a Joker origin tale, not the Joker origin tale?

          Comment


          • Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
            ...ok, stop.
            No, thank you.

            Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
            Did people miss the memo that the Joker movie is basically an Elseworlds story? That this is supposed to be a Joker origin tale, not the Joker origin tale?
            One more reason to not bother with it then.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
              No, thank you.
              There's no need for attitude.

              One more reason to not bother with it then.
              Why not? Why is it suddenly forbidden/taboo to not tell a Joker origin story?

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              • On record, I personally wasn't saying that Joker origin story isn't a viable thing-in fact, a lot of great nuances have come from him having one-but that it's important to understand that a backstory presented has more to do with the themes at hand rather than commentary on the character or his...well, character.

                Like I said, Joker can make legitimate points, he just can't be legitimate. The main function for doing so, from the idea viewpoint of things, is to get people thinking critically about a point, presenting an angle with a necessary grain of salt that makes it easier to give credence for or against something. Sometimes when the same is done with someone who has more legitimacy, even if they remain a villain, it becomes to easy to invest blindly in the topic and not personally question it ourselves. A sympathetic villain can get you defending the devil, where a irredeemable one can get you appreciating the steps while realizing the outcome is incorrect in some way or form.

                The Joker in particular has had a host of origin stories, and some of his best appearances are centered around the utilization of his particular relationship to that story type. It strikes me that it can continue to be used in future to similar effect. This one movie, though, didn't.

                Also, I really dislike the idea that "non-canon" alternate stories are somehow wastes of storytelling in general even if I'm not impressed by this one, and I really find it laughable when discussing any sort of media related to major American comic book franchises, particularly Batman and doubly so for Joker.


                Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

                Comment


                • Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a Superman: Red Son type of movie. But Red Son, this ain’t.

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                  • Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post

                    Like I said, Joker can make legitimate points, he just can't be legitimate. The main function for doing so, from the idea viewpoint of things, is to get people thinking critically about a point, presenting an angle with a necessary grain of salt that makes it easier to give credence for or against something.
                    I feel like people who genuinely think that Joker is going to inspire mass shootings are either too young to have experienced the 90's, or they've forgotten that they were a thing.

                    The era of hard boiled, action star anti-heroes. Where the "Rule of Cool" had enough violence, explosions and total disregard for authority figures to make even the most angsty teens happy.

                    The world isn't like Demolition Man, where our society can just suppress our darker impulses to the point where they become inconceivable to us. People need an outlet through which to relieve their pent up frustrations towards the world. And fictional media is one of the best ways to do so. It gives the audience the satisfaction of witnessing their fantasies come to life, without the consequences of inflicting real damage on anyone.

                    Billions of people all over the world enjoy films, comics and video games with themes like this, and they go through life perfectly fine. If somebody does decide to act upon the themes presented to them, they were probably already going to do so on their own, and the people blaming the fictional media are just using it as a scapegoat to avoid addressing the real issue.

                    Hell, this Joker trying to convince society to revolt isn't even an original idea. Does anybody here remember "V for Vendetta?"
                    Last edited by Nyrufa; 10-11-2019, 07:11 AM.

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                    • Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                      Like I said, Joker can make legitimate points, he just can't be legitimate.
                      I strongly disagree with the idea that Joker is "legitimate" or is somehow legitimized by the anti-rich movement in this movie. Joker is almost entirely incidental to the movement. He accidentally becomes their mascot when he kills three businessmen, but Joker's motives are completely opaque to the people. And Joker himself openly states that he doesn't believe in anything and supports nothing. Behind his mask is no mere flesh, behind his mask is nothing. He is an anti-V. He is an empty suit on which the protesters project whatever they want. While Joker is never engaged with the protest movement and is on his own personal crusade for recognition. Which Arthur Fleck doesn't get even after a murderous rampage. Joker does.
                      Last edited by Kammerer; 10-11-2019, 05:24 PM.

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                      • ...BTW, I should note that so far we've been side-stepping the possibility of other things in the movie that might not entirely be what's actually happening. At least considering that Joker is very much an unreliable narrator.

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                        • Originally posted by Kammerer View Post
                          I strongly disagree with the idea that Joker is "legitimate" or is somehow legitimized by the anti-rich movement in this movie. Joker is almost entirely incidental to the movement. He accidentally becomes their mascot when he kills three businessmen, but Joker's motives are completely opaque to the people. And Joker himself openly states that he doesn't believe in anything and supports nothing. Behind his mask is no mere flesh, behind his mask is nothing. He is an anti-V. He is an empty suit on which the protesters project whatever they want. While Joker is never engaged with the protest movement and is on his own personal crusade for recognition. Which Arthur Fleck doesn't get even after a murderous rampage. Joker does.
                          Problem.

                          The "joke" the movie hinges on is clearly a plea of legitimate cause.

                          The joker telling it clearly isn't joking.

                          The accident of his mascot-ism is not the issue of the reading. The claimancy of his mascot-ism is. His transcendance moment is that of a person grabbing what fell in their lap and taking it as a mission, not merely a costume.

                          An anti-V's joke would possibly be the same?

                          But also make it clear the people who might take it seriously are also the punchline.

                          The Joker is a Bloody-handed South Park. Nothing is serious, everything is worthy of ridicule, satisfaction of personal hilarity is the only absurdism worth chasing.

                          The trailers alone make it clear that that's not what Joker 2019 was going for.

                          "You get what you deserve"?

                          The Joker's apotheosis statement is "You get what makes me giggle."

                          Only people who take things seriously think anyone "deserves" something. Taking things seriously ruins The Joke.

                          The Joke Kills For A Reason.

                          On a different note, while I'm aware of "Not actually happening" storyline possibilites with Joker (thanks, MatPat!), I really don't have a use for such considerations beyond what that means in it's own contexts and wider implications. Joker doesn't do anything with the latter, so even if it "doesn't actually happen", I have to deal with the film's message as it is, and with that the dissonance of the story's ideas against the metanarrative of the character is dissonant.

                          I like the idea of Joker's story. I just can't buy into it as a Joker story, or the alternative.


                          Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                          The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                          Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

                          Comment


                          • I'm finding it really hard to parse what you are saying. What "joke" are you talking about? The movie "Joker" that I saw wasn't ridiculing anything.
                            IMHO, what the movie is saying is that being kind to people beyond the bare minimum demanded by politness and professional courtesy would go a long way to making everyone's lives better. Just, give a shit a little, without expecting anything in return.

                            This is exemplified in the character of Gary, who is the only person in the movie to pay attention to Arthur just because he can. And for that he is rewarded by the narrative with escaping the affair unscathed.
                            Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post
                            ...BTW, I should note that so far we've been side-stepping the possibility of other things in the movie that might not entirely be what's actually happening. At least considering that Joker is very much an unreliable narrator.
                            That's a dead end discussion. Yes, anything or even everything could be fictional. Now what?
                            Last edited by Kammerer; 10-11-2019, 06:42 PM.

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                            • A variety of jokes. The core joke of the Joker in the metanarrative sense, one of the few cores to adhere to, is "Hurting or Inconveniencing is Funny, I'ma Do That because [X] but really just because it's funny to me."

                              The Joke of Joker 2019, the Apotheosis Statement, by contrast, is...well-



                              almost tearfully delivered, desperately wanting to come across. "This isn't a joke, I'M not a joke."

                              The joke of the Joker is that Everything is Funny. Everything.

                              That's why it's also often terrifying.

                              The joke of Joker 2019 is that it's no joke.
                              Last edited by ArcaneArts; 10-11-2019, 07:03 PM.


                              Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                              The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                              Male/neutral pronouns accepted, female pronouns enjoyed.

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Kammerer View Post
                                That's a dead end discussion. Yes, anything or even everything could be fictional. Now what?
                                In the sense that some of the scenes in the movie might very well be Joker embellishing what's actually happening to make himself look better. The scenes that come to mind for me
                                are at the end where there's that whole bit where he gets into a car crash, somehow being the only survivor, extracted out by the rioters, and being praised by them like some divine figure...even though, as has been mentioned before, the Joker himself didn't deliberately do anything to start the movement, so why should he or any of the rioters care about him to this extent?


                                ...and rest assured, no I'm not bringing this up because MatPat brought it up. The thought occurred to me while I was watching the movie and how odd it seemed.

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