Updated: Dec 10, 2019
by: Aidan Clarkson-Farrell
At the time of writing this article, Todd Phillips’s “Joker” has made $800 million worldwide, according to Forbes Magazine. Most audiences are praising the film, and even more have been saying that Joaquin Phoenix, the lead actor portraying the famous villain, should win or at least be nominated for “Best Actor” at The Oscars. Most critics, however, don't share the same sentiment. You see, if you go onto the website “Rotten Tomatoes,” look up “Joker,” and look at the reviews by the site’s “Top Critics”, they gave the film a 44% rating. In other words, most critics hated the film. This is in stark contrast to the 89% rating given by audiences. So, what’s happening here? To answer this question, we must actually look at what these critics are saying about the film.
Richard Brody of The New Yorker says: “A movie of a cynicism so vast and pervasive as to render the viewing experience even emptier than its slapdash aesthetic does.”
A.O. Scott of The New York Times says: “It's hard to say if the muddle ‘Joker’ makes of itself arises from confusion or cowardice, but the result is less a depiction of nihilism than a story about nothing.”
Jake Coyle says: “‘Joker,’ though, is a calculatedly combustible concoction, designed, like its chaos-creating character, to cause a stir. To provoke and distort. I wish it was as radical as it thinks it is.”
These are all fairly tame, but if you continue to read the criticisms, they leave the realm of somewhat rational and grounded, and enter into borderline juvenile and absurd territory.
Dana Stevens of Slate says: “Joker is a bad movie, yes: It's predictable, clichéd, deeply derivative of other, better movies, and overwritten to the point of self-parody.”
And Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian just said: “Bleak and juvenile.”
The more you read, the more it seems like the majority of top critics either found this movie unimpressive or downright hate it.
As someone who saw the film, reading these reviews makes me want to ask each of these critics, “Did you see the movie?”
The film is about Arther Fleck, man riddled with a variety of mental illnesses, and his slow descent into madness as a result of things people choose to do to him, and what he chooses to do to himself.
Leading up to the release of this movie, media outlets big and small went on an endless crusade to slam the movie. Many insisted that it would spark mass shootings, inspire people to become killers and make people sympathize and root for a character that has historically been a mentally insane killer (ignoring the silver-age of comics). Due to leaked plot details, some declared that it would inspire lonely, socially inept people (specifically white men) to kill people. If you were tracking updates on the “Joker,” then it was impossible to not at least hear about the mountains of manufactured controversy that made it seem like the media was begging for this movie to cause some kind of massive tragedy.
One month after the film’s release, nothing has come of all the hyperbolic, paranoid speculation. To say that the fear mongers were let down, would be an understatement.
The film has done anything but spark mass violence. In fact, what it has done is fueled socio-economic revolution.