Friday, February 14, 2020

Gatekeepers Hate Sputnik On KC Radio For The Same Reasons They Hated The Joker


off-guardian |  Joker does something that has been beyond the bounds of acceptable Hollywood film-making for 20 years (if not more) – it holds a mirror up to the real problems of society. It challenges the American meme that absolutely everyone is just a day away from realising their wildest dreams. It admits that some people truly are alone, with no prospect of help or happiness. Ever.

The poor of this film are not Steinbeck’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”, they are just poor. And will be for the rest of their lives. This film dares to tell a secret truth – that for a lot of people, life is a struggle. Not a “there aren’t enough black Oscar nominees” struggle, or a “this man whistled at me on my way home struggle”, or a “some guy on twitter got my pronouns wrong” struggle. An actual struggle. To survive.

The violence of this film is not the vicarious, sanitized catharsis of a hero, nor the malign recourse of the soulless monster, a series of disconnected incidents linked by nothing but the inhumanity of the perpetrators. No, here, violence is a slow build to a sudden shock. Not a disease but a symptom. A boil bursting out societal puss. Understandable maybe, but not justifiable. Exactly the sort of subtle position which today’s media are inoculated against.

The politics of this film are neither left or nor right. Puppets in coloured ties don’t debate non-issues here, the world isn’t blue or red. It is flat grey. Austerity measures kill off social programs which help those with mental illnesses get medication, therapy and employment.

Thomas Wayne, a billionaire politician, goes on TV to berate, belittle and insult the victims of poverty as “not trying hard enough”, they never say which party he represents. They recognise it does not matter.

An out of touch media class – personified by Robert De Niro’s late-night chatshow host – punches down, mocking the victims of society’s decline and protected, by his media bubble, from ever having to see the way the world truly is.

In that sense, it’s a truly realistic comic book film. Joker‘s world could nearly be our own. All it takes is a little push.

Look at the months of protests in France. Look at the soaring poverty and food-bank use here in the UK. Look at the homeless tent cities sprouting like fields of crops around Los Angeles and San Francisco.

It IS getting crazier out there. But that’s a message the media are no longer capable of comprehending.
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Like I said earlier, Joker is not an all-time great movie. But it is a great movie for our time. It tells a lot of hard truths, and explores ideas that are being bullied out of vogue by the increasingly authoritarian “liberal” class.