Yesterday I had a rare bit of time to myself that wasn't at 4 a.m., so I took myself down to the local cinema for only my third movie of the year. The only English movie playing was Joker, which was fine because it looked pretty good.
Just as an aside, there be spoilers below. I'm going to talk about what happened so if you don't want to know, stop reading now. I won't warn you again.
It was a good movie. In fact, it was more than that, it was an excellent movie. However, holy god was it bleak. It affected me in ways that few movies do these days, in that I came away from it feeling more than a little uncomfortable. And not just because of the violence, of which there was a lot (rated 15 in Japan - seriously, when I was a kid camp horror rubbish like Freddy was an 18, yet a movie with a guy getting knifed in the eye and then having his head slammed against a wall with blood flying everywhere is a 15?! No wonder crime rates are rising), but for what it represented.
I found myself watching what seemed to be a real life social commentary on the 99 percent movement or (whatever buzzword its using) and rising anger against the super rich. Politically, I'm a total socialist, and I found myself uncomfortably on the Joker's side as the movie progressed, as everything he did was in reaction to someone giving him an unprovoked kicking, or railing on him in some other way.
It was clear that the director had this concern because of the insertion halfway through of the implied murder of the mother and her young daughter (thankfully off-screen), as if to remind us, the viewer, that the Joker was the bad guy, that we shouldn't be applauding him for blowing the brains out of people who treated him like shit (so practically everyone then), but should be hating him for turning into a murderous psychopath.
I admit I don't watch a lot of superhero movies (I don't watch a lot of movies at all these days) but it did make me wonder if the genre should be going this dark. We have dramas and war movies to show us how fucked up the world is, do we really need superhero movies to do the same? Ultra violence, swearing, child abuse ... what happened to Lex Luther, Mr. Freeze and the Green Goblin?
Maybe I'm just getting old, but I came out of the cinema not only certain I would never mock anyone for anything ever again, but worryingly convinced that even what is supposed to be fantasy is now dangerously close to a reflection of real life, one that appears to suck for the vast majority of people in it.