Michael Moore on The Joker Movie: He Understands! By Chris Knight

     The Joker movie is out, and it tells the story of Batman’s greatest foe. But the real story is about the disintegration and decadence of the West. Michael Moore, the super-Leftoid, despite our differences understands what is behind the movie. Ignore the anti-Trump rhetoric, he is right about the corporate elites riding the West to the ground. It is a pity that the Left could not get itself under control and return to the Old Left mode, work with all those who see the present system as corrupt. Maybe then we could get somewhere.

“On Wednesday night I attended the New York Film Festival and witnessed a cinematic masterpiece, the film that last month won the top prize as the Best Film of the Venice International Film Festival. It’s called “Joker” — and all we Americans have heard about this movie is that we should fear it and stay away from it. We’ve been told it’s violent and sick and morally corrupt — an incitement and celebration of murder. We’ve been told that police will be at every screening this weekend in case of “trouble.” Our country is in deep despair, our constitution is in shreds, a rogue maniac from Queens has access to the nuclear codes — but for some reason, it’s a movie we should be afraid of. I would suggest the opposite: The greater danger to society may be if you DON’T go see this movie. Because the story it tells and the issues it raises are so profound, so necessary, that if you look away from the genius of this work of art, you will miss the gift of the mirror it is offering us. Yes, there’s a disturbed clown in that mirror, but he’s not alone — we’re standing right there beside him. “Joker” is no superhero or supervillain or comic book movie. The film is set somewhere in the ‘70s or ‘80s in Gotham City - and the filmmakers make no attempt to disguise it for anything other than what it is: New York City, the headquarters of all evil: the rich who rule us, the banks and corporations for whom we serve, the media which feeds us a daily diet “news” they think we should absorb. This past week, a week when a sitting President indicted himself because, in true Joker style, he was laughing himself silly at Mueller’s and the Dems’ inability to stop him, so he just quadrupled down and handed them everything they needed. But even then, after ten days of his flaunting his guilt, he was still sitting with his KFC grease-stained nuclear codes in the Oval Office, so he told Captain Sketchy to fire up the helicopter, the sound of its blades revving up, meant only to alert the reporters to scurry outside for the daily “press conference” — Trump walks outside into the deafening cacophony of the whirlybird and publicly and feloniously asks the Peoples Republic of China to interfere in our 2020 election by sending him dirt on the Bidens. He and his magic carpet of hair then walked away and, other than the citizen howls of “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?!”, nothing happened. As “Joker” opens this weekend, Joker, Jr. Is still still sitting at John F. Kennedy’s desk in the Oval Office on the days he shows up to work, dreaming of his next conquest and debauchery.

But this movie is not about Trump. It’s about the America that gave us Trump — the America which feels no need to help the outcast, the destitute. The America where the filthy rich just get richer and filthier. Except in this story a discomfiting question is posed: What if one day the dispossessed decide to fight back? And I don’t mean with a clipboard registering people to vote. People are worried this movie may be too violent for them. Really? Considering everything we’re living through in real life? You allow your school to conduct “active shooter drills” with your children, permanently, emotionally damaging them as we show these little ones that this is the life we’ve created for them. “Joker” makes it clear we don’t really want to get to the bottom of this, or to try to understand why innocent people turn in to Jokers after they can no longer keep it together. No one wants to ask why two smart boys skipped their 4th-hour AP French Philosophy class at Columbine High to slaughter 12 students and a teacher. Who would dare ask why the son of a vice-president of General Electric would go into Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT and blow the tiny bodies apart of 20 first-graders. Or why did 53% of White women vote for the presidential candidate who, on tape, reveled in his talent as a sexual predator? The fear and outcry over “Joker” is a ruse. It’s a distraction so that we don’t look at the real violence tearing up our fellow human beings — 30 million Americans who don’t have health insurance is an act of violence. Millions of abused women and children living in fear is an act of violence. Cramming 59 students like worthless sardines into classrooms in Detroit is an act of violence.

As the news media stands by for the next mass shooting, you and your neighbors and co-workers have already been shot numerous times, shot straight through all of your hearts and hopes and dreams. Your pension is long gone. You’re in debt for the next 30 years because you committed the crime of wanting an education. You have actually thought about not having children because you don’t have the heart to bring them onto a dying planet where they are given a 20-year death-by-climate-change sentence at birth. The violence in “Joker”? Stop! Most of the violence in the movie is perpetrated on the Joker himself, a person in need of help, someone trying to survive on the margins of a greedy society. His crime is that he can’t get help. His crime is that he is the butt of a joke played on HIM by the rich and famous. When the Joker decides he can no longer take it — yes, you will feel awful. Not because of the (minimal) blood on the screen, but because deep down, you were cheering him on - and if you’re honest when that happens, you will thank this movie for connecting you to a new desire — not to run to the nearest exit to save your own ass but rather to stand and fight and focus your attention on the nonviolent power you hold in your hands every single day. Thank you Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Phillips, Warner Bros. and all who made this important movie for this important time. I loved this film’s multiple homages to Taxi Driver, Network, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon. How long has it been since we’ve seen a movie aspire to the level of Stanley Kubrick? Go see this film. Take your teens. Take your resolve.”

     Many bad points, but still some merit here from someone I usually defined as an enemy. Anyway, the point to be made is that the movie is a hit with young people because they identify with the nihilistic landscape that the modern world has become, with the breakdown of all values, even those of the hope for materialism and consumerism, there being no jobs. And Black guys are hurting the most. The Joker character could just as easily have been Black.

“There is a well-documented, persistent, and growing racial wealth gap between African American families and white families in the United States. Studies indicate the median white family in the United States holds more than ten times the wealth of the median African American family. Apart from its obvious negative impact on African American individuals, families, and communities, the racial wealth gap constrains the entire US economy. In a previous report, we projected that closing the racial wealth gap could net the US economy between $1.1 trillion and $1.5 trillion by 2028. Despite this, the racial wealth gap threatens to grow as norms, standards, and opportunities in the current US workplace change and exacerbate existing income disparities. One critical disrupter will be the adoption of automation and other digital technologies by companies worldwide. According to estimates from the McKinsey Global Institute, companies have already invested between $20 billion and $30 billion in artificial intelligence technologies and applications. End users, businesses, and economies are hoping to significantly increase their productivity and capacity for innovation through using such technologies.”

     Soon, Gotham city, will be every city in the decaying West.

“Joker is a great film because it addresses the malaise of millennials and zoomers in the same way that Fight Club did for Generation X. It goes beyond the incel meme that propelled the movie to popularity: it is an honest and deeply uncomfortable examination of the lives of white men. More pointedly, it is a frank look at the desperation these men face and an acknowledgment that their responses to it, while abhorrent, are understandable. … I say that this movie should offend them. Joker is an icy spear through the pieties of liberal society. It’s a brutal, unflinching look at the lives of the most truly marginalized group in modern society: young white men. Arthur Fleck’s transformation into Gotham’s most feared villain is both a cautionary tale for a civilization that insists on beating down its most rebellious and industrious demographic and a wake-up call for that demographic: you might be screwed no matter what.”

     Here is another interpretation, that the movie is about the nihilistic ideal of destructionism, the goal to smash what exists. There is some merit in this, but is still ignores the reasons why someone would be led to this position, for this attitude does not come from nowhere:

“It has a particular name in the history of ideas: Destructionism. It’s not just a penchant; it’s an ideology, an ideology that purports to give shape to history and meaning to life. That ideology says that the sole purpose of action in one’s life should be to tear down what others have created, including life itself. This ideology becomes necessary because doing good seems practically impossible, because one still needs to make some difference in the world to feel that your life has some direction, and because doing evil is easy. The ideology of destructionism enables a person to rationalize that evil is at least somehow preparing the ground for some better state of society in the future. What is that better state? It could be anything. Maybe it’s a world in which everyone owns everything equally. Maybe it is a world without happiness or a world with universal happiness. Maybe it is a world without faith. Maybe it is national production with no international trade. It’s a dictatorship  – society conforming to One Will. It’s the absence of patriarchy, a world without fossil fuels, an economy without private property and technology, production without the division of labor. A society of perfect morality. The ascendance of one religion. Whatever it is, it is illiberal and therefore unworkable and unachievable, so the advocate must eventually find solace not in creating but in destroying the existing order.

The first time I read of the concept was in Ludwig von Mises’s 1922 book Socialism. He brings it up toward the end after having proven that socialism itself is impossible. If there is nothing positive to do, no real plan to achieve anything socially beneficial; because the whole idea is cockamamie to begin with, the proponents must either abandon the theory or find satisfaction in the demolition of society as it currently exists. Mises says that the attitude is very obvious in communism. But, he says, it is just as present in social democratic versions because their plans to achieve the utopian ideal in stages are equally untenable in practice. Destructionism becomes a psychology of wreckage imparted by an ideology that is a failure by necessity of theory and practice. The Joker failed at life and so sets out to destroy it for others. So too are those consumed by an ideological vision to which the world stubbornly refuses to conform. This is why any left/right interpretation of The Joker is too limited. In our own times, we are gorged by media and politics with insane visions of how society should work. It should not surprise us when these visionaries ultimately turn to anger, then dehumanization of opponents, and then plot plans for tearing down what exists just for the heck of it. That “what is” could be world trade, energy consumption, diversity, human choice generally, the existence of the rich, a degenerate race, the frustration of one man with his absence of effective power.

Destructionism is stage two of any unachievable vision of what society should be like against a reality that refuses to conform. Destructionism also proves to be strangely compelling to populist movements that are anxious to externalize their enemies and smite the forces that stand in the way of their reassertion of power. Finally they discover satisfaction in destruction – as an end in itself – because it makes them feel alive and gives their life meaning. The Joker, then, is not just one man, not just a crazy person, but the instantiation of the insane and morbid dangers associated with persistent personal failure backed by a conviction that when there is a fundamental conflict between a vision and reality, it can only be solved by the creation of chaos and suffering. As unpleasant as it is, The Joker is the movie we need to see to understand and then prepare for the horrors that this unchecked mentality can unleash on the world. In other words, The Joker has already created copycats, and has been doing so for centuries. The movie is the copycat.




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Thursday, 29 October 2020
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