The Joker as social commentary
An inevitable descent
The Philosophical Clown
wHAT’S NEW THIS TIME
One particular aspect of the film which I enjoyed was the exposition given on the choice of the Joker’s clownish wardrobe. Previous adaptations took the aesthetic as more of an afterthought, assigning the label based on appearances. The backstory provided by Todd Philips however, strives to inject a little more sense into this. In what can be described as a homage to Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, Arthur Fleck is given a daytime job as a clown-for-hire and an ambition of being a successful stand-up comedian that comes up for naught. We are given a sense of how humour is central to Fleck’s emotional core, along with his mother’s prophetic words on how his purpose in life is to “put a smile on everyone’s face”.
Joker’s choice of attire is a subconscious decision to subvert his misfortunes. Instead of outright abandoning the guise he has cultivated for the majority of his adult life, he uses it to explore the emotional territory of “what-ifs” that has been denied to him by a cruel reality – vindication, affirmation and self-validation. It is an incisive exploration of the depravities of the human condition, one that is as sharp as the blade wielded in its name.