Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Loss of hope
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
Degeneration of comic-book inspired movies—descending into terrible darkness and evil horrors depicting realistic graphic bloody violence
Nihilism / a destructive spirit of anarchic animus
Evil homicidal maniac / psychopath / brutal murderer
Why does the Left produce so many movies that seem to attempt to justify evil behavior as being the reasonable outcome of a bad childhood, bullying, poverty, and a corrupt culture, etc.?
Movies with phony and dangerous philosophies
In one scene Arthur Fleck says, “I have nothing but bad thoughts.” That is what the Bible clearly says has happened to mankind due to sin. At the end of the roughly 2-thousand year timespan between the paradise of Adam and the time of Noah, we read this chilling report in Scripture…
“The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil” (Genesis 6:5 NLT). —Learn more about the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity
What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS?
Sinful treatment of kids breeds more sin—sometimes generation upon generation
Possible life-long effects of abuse in childhood
Mental illness / mental health issues
The dangers of being removed from medications for mental illness that are genuinely helping
The unwise act of Randall giving the unstable, mentally ill Arthur a gun
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
About the POOR in the Bible
Joaquin Phoenix … Arthur Fleck / Joker
Robert De Niro … Murray Franklin, talk show host
Zazie Beetz … Sophie Dumond
Jolie Chan … Street Worker
Marc Maron … Ted Marco
Frances Conroy … Penny Fleck
Shea Whigham … Detective Burke
Mary Kate Malat … Murray Franklin Intern
Bryan Callen …
Brett Cullen … Thomas Wayne
Brian Tyree Henry … Arkham State Hospital Clerk
Bill Camp … Detective Garrity
Douglas Hodge … Alfred Pennyworth
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|Director||Todd Phillips—“The Hangover” films 1-3, “Old School,” “War Dogs”|
Creative Wealth Media Finance [Canada]
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|Distributor||Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company|
This Joker is far darker, far more disturbing and Nihilistic
Arthur Fleck is one of those people that tries incredibly hard to make the best out of a really bad situation. Take his job for example. With no real education, and dependent on his aging mother for support, Arthur spends his days working as a traveling clown in many different capacities—whether it’s dancing around in his clown costume holding up a sign to advertise a business or perhaps clowning around [ha ha] at a children’s hospital. You might ask yourself, why Arthur chose this particular profession?
Well, you see, Arthur has always had the gift of laughter, and also a problem with UNCONTROLLABLE laughter. As it turns out, Arthur laughs at various times (some which are inappropriate) which are out of his control, due to a neurological impairment, for reasons that remain a mystery. This makes many social situations incredibly difficult for Arthur, while also making him the laughingstock (pun intended) of Gotham. Poor Arthur, all he wants to do is make people laugh.
But an event on a subway, in which Arthur takes a brutal beating for taking a stand for a woman who was being harassed, flips a switch in Arthur’s brain. “I’m not going to be the victim anymore,” says Arthur. “I’m not going to be the one laughed at… I’m the one who will DO the laughing.” And sure enough, the victim becomes the attacker, and Arthur begins his life of brutal crimes.
“Joker” is a story that begs to ask the question: What happens when the lonely and downtrodden have had enough? What are the consequences of berating and belittling those some consider “beneath them.”
Ever since the character, Joker, first appeared in Batman Comics Issue #1 in 1940, the Joker’s origins and upbringing have always remained a mystery, to both fans and to the occasional Batman enthusiast such as myself. What was and still does not remain a mystery, however, is Joker’s personality. From the very beginning and throughout the history of the comics themselves to the feature films we witness today, Joker has been described as a narcissistic, albeit dangerous sociopath, with an insatiable desire to commit crimes using chemicals and tricks. Joker has also been described as a character adept at studying others and modifying or adapting his personality to achieve his intended outcome.
Why bring all this to your attention? Because this movie embodies and emboldens the “Joker” character in every possible manner, but in the worst ways. “Joker” is unlike any film I’ve ever encountered, and that’s not a compliment. “Joker” takes Bob Kane’s iconic villain, flips him on his head, and then insults his memory by making us watch the character Arthur slowly and painfully descend into sheer madness, until there’s nothing left but rage, violence, and hate for the world. As one reviewer stated,
…having no purpose other than following his depraved desire to destroy
Nihilism is “a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths” and believes that conditions in society “are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility.”
“…the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior. …Arthur is a mess, but we’re also supposed to think he’s kind of great—a misunderstood savant.” —Ulrich, Slant magazine (2019)
Now you might ask yourself, “Well Alex, Joker is a twisted character right? He pretty much embodies darkness, so isn’t the character going to display this on screen?” To some degree, but this film takes Bob Kane’s Joker so far out of context that this isn’t the Joker of the comic books who just attacked people with some of his tricks or carried on conversations with his quick one-liners. This Joker is far darker, far more disturbing, far more disturbed than anything I would have imagined. So much so, that to write about some of the things that this Joker says would not only be inappropriate for me to write about as a reviewer, but also indecent to speak of as a human being.
To add insult to injury, we have an exasperating amount of graphic violence (including a disturbing head smashing scene) that only further strengthens the film’s message that madness and revolt are eminent when you ignore those in need for so long. In an age when it seems that serious acts of violence across America and around the world (mass shootings and the like) are becoming more and more prevalent, we don’t need a film like “Joker” to reinforce or encourage such dangerous behaviors and events. As Richard Trenholm, from CNet, states, “Joker” is a…
“…violent, visceral experience… several cringy attempts to be edgy, like a song by convicted pedophile Gary Glitter on the soundtrack… No one’s laughing in this bleak Batman spin-off… Seriously, everyone in this movie is miserable. …Arthur is disturbed and violent… everybody else is cynical, mistrusting and cruel…”
To be fair to the film, Joaquin Phoenix, who reportedly, unnecessarily lost 50 pounds for the role, is a very accomplished actor. He takes his role as Arthur Fleck with grace and precision. And yes, even the supporting actors, such as Robert DeNiro’s brief appearance, are relatively strong. However, Phoenix GOES TOO FAR. The film goes too far. My mouth was literally dropping… to the end.
* Please be aware that this section deals with descriptions of graphic violence. Reader discretion is advised. *
Violence: Extreme— A character is shot point blank in the forehead on live television. T wo adults are shot and killed in front of their child. A character stabs someone with scissors, repeatedly and graphically, in the chest and then the neck and face, and then repeatedly bashes the victim’s head hard into the wall (there is blood everywhere, including the attacker’s face). A character smothers an elderly person to death. Arthur shoots two people on a subway train. He disembarks and shoots a third victim, point blank, three times, while the victim is trying to escape. Arthur grabs a man by the throat. We see Arthur brutally beaten and bruised in an alleyway and also in another scene. We hear about how a character was adopted and beaten as a child by a mother’s boyfriend, and that the mother just stood there and watched. Someone confesses to killing people and finding enjoyment in killing them and that it is comedic to them. A character is hit by a car. A police car is rammed, and the policeman killed (we see his corpse). Violent protestors and cops fight. We watch as fires, numerous lootings and massive civil unrest occur across Gotham while vehicles and buildings are destroyed. We see some bloody footsteps (a murder is implied) as a character tries to leave a mental institution. Various fights. Rioting. Guns. Etc.
Vulgarity: f-words (25+)—1 written, 4 bleeped • obscene hand gestures (3) • b*llsh*t (2) • other s-words (6) • pr*cks (1) • p*ss (1) • a**hole (2) • a** (2), b*tch (1). Other crude or harsh language includes a joke about Jews, jokes about little people (poor taste), “freak,” a drunk driver joke, characters telling a person he’s worthless.
Sexual Content: Discussions occur about role playing in the bedroom. Sex jokes. Arthur is seen making out with another character. Adult theater marquee. An outdoor sign says “strip search.” A man is seen urinating in a toilet (not graphic). Arthur rudely kisses a stage guest on the mouth.
Nudity: Arthur has a collection of nude magazines, and we catch a glimpse of nude women as he flips through (we also more on the corner newsstand). Arthur bathes his mother (we see her breasts partially from the front). Arthur is often seen shirtless and in his underwear.
Drugs: Arthur is seen smoking cigarettes many times. He also takes medications that affect his mood.
Other unpleasant content and possible triggers: • A character tries to freeze to death (?) by closing himself inside a refrigerator. • The song “When You’re Smiling” plays as a character looks at people wearing killer clown masks and newspapers showing their images. • People in masks hold signs saying “Wayne = Facist” and “Kill the Rich” • At least one is inspired to actually murder a wealthy couple • News reports about rat infestations. • Arthur is incredibly and unhealthily skinny. • We see bruises on Arthur’s back. • He has an unhealthy attachment to his mother. He smells her sheets when she is absent. • Arthur is seen stalking a woman. • He brings a gun to a children’s hospital. • Young mother with bruises from domestic violence • Report of a child having been violently abused by his mother and her boyfriend • A woman heads to a hospital, and we hear she had a stroke.
It seems that as more and more films have been produced, many have been focused on the idea that if a character’s upbringing is deprived or if they received a life that’s less than perfect (whether they were abused, mistreated, neglected, etc.) then that gives them the justification to act in wickedly depraved ways.
This is the exact message “Joker” seems to drive across, and it’s very dangerous. Destructive and morally repugnant behavior, like Joker’s, should not be justified, no matter the cause. As an educator myself, I firmly believe that how someone is raised does play a large factor in who they become and who they aspire to be, but it is not the ONLY factor, and it certainly does not justify extremely evil behavior.
If we choose the Lord, instead of turning to more darkness, if we come to Him, He can change our direction, no matter where we came from. Our past does not have to define our future. You are not worthless in the Lord’s eyes, even if the world says you are. I urge you, those who are lost, those who feel doomed to wander the Earth in darkness, to turn to the Light—seek the Lord Jesus. The Creator of the universe came among us and died on the cross for our sins, so that we did not have to live and die in sin. Come to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness. He will draw you near to Him, if you come to Him humbly, confessing your sins in true repentance. As Scripture tell us:
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” —John 3:16-17 NLT
“At one time you were dead because of your sins. You followed the sinful ways of the world and obeyed the leader of the power of darkness. He is the devil who is now working in the people who do not obey God. But God had so much loving-kindness. He loved us with such a great love. Even when we were dead because of our sins, He made us alive by what Christ did for us. You have been saved from the punishment of sin by His loving-favor. God raised us up from death when He raised up Christ Jesus. He has given us a place with Christ in the heavens. He did this to show us through all the time to come the great riches of His loving-favor. He has shown us His kindness through Christ Jesus.” —Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-7 NLV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. —Romans 8:18 NKJV
I have never seen so much fear, so much hopelessness stem from one movie than I did with “Joker.” I, also, have never seen so much fear from the public over a film’s release, due to the level of darkness that would be present—some theaters banned attendees from wearing costumes, some had heightened security or plain-clothed police on opening night, and some, like Aurora, Colorado, just banned the film altogether.
I wholeheartedly recommend that all moviegoers avoid “Joker” at all costs. It’s not a film for Christians, for adults, teens and especially not for children. Thankfully, some theaters are finally posting specific warnings about not taking the kids! Listen to them, if not me.
“…brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” —Philippians 4:8 NIV
I can only hope that some viewers realize that, consciously or not, this film vividly displays the horrible end results of not only indifferent self-centeredness, but of the unending promotion of moral relativism that is systematically undermining common sense about what is true and right. Those who reject the reality of God and the Gospel are busily destroying institutions and traditions that used to support important things that people truly need in life—devotion to God, friendship, real love and compassion, self-sacrifice, and community—and an always present fear of God’s just judgment on wicked words and actions, whether before death or after.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.