As a culture, we should be celebrating writer/director Todd Phillips’ move toward a film like “Joker”, his anti-hero origin tale of Batman’s nemesis starring the always interesting Joaquin Phoenix. “Old School” was fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But “Joker” might have something to say that transcends the struggles of frat boys trying to launch.
But the wokest among us are already having serious problems with the film because they fear (Of course they fear. It’s what they do best.) Phillips might be encouraging empathy for a sociopathic murderer that could lead to actual violence. They are therefore in full-on cancel mode three days before the film is actually released.
In a really sharp profile of Phoenix at Vanity Fair, Phillips is quoted as saying he intentionally turned the corner on the types of films he was making because comedy, for all intents and purposes, is dead thanks to the PC police. Cut to the smart set shaming him for being a jackass with his own opinions on things and for using the nasty and offensive term “guys” to segregate women out of comedy.
Sad to learn that Todd Phillips is a jackass who thinks SJWs are trying to ruin comedy. Also note use of the word “guys.” pic.twitter.com/yM11wnoNqm
— Rob Tannenbaum (@tannenbaumr) October 1, 2019
Tannenbaum, it should be noted, has an enviable bio that proves he’s one of those critical, thoughtful types.
“Writer: New York Magazine, NY Times, GQ, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Playboy, Billboard, Longreads, Blender (RIP). Co-author of ‘I Want My MTV.’ #resist duh”
I particularly like the “duh” there at the end, correcting anyone who thought he wasn’t on the right (read: left) side of all issues always, no matter what they are.
Interestingly, Tannenbaum, as smart as he is, left out the really revealing part of Phillips’ quote. The part where the filmmaker explains the choice to film “Joker” — about a failed comedian who is either born homicidal or is nurtured into it — was in direct response to comedy dying a slow painful death at the hands of humor-murderers like Tannenbaum (emphasis mine).
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture,” he says. “There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’ It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right? So you just go, ‘I’m out.’ I’m out, and you know what? With all my comedies—I think that what comedies in general all have in common—is they’re irreverent. So I go, ‘How do I do something irreverent, but fuck comedy? Oh I know, let’s take the comic book movie universe and turn it on its head with this.’ And so that’s really where that came from.”
The result is a drama that doubles as a critique of Hollywood: an alienated white guy whose failure to be funny drives him into a vengeful rage.
So basically Phillips has already answered woke critics by making a film about what might happen to an already sick person who tries hard to make them laugh and finds that scolds would rather beat him up in the street than allow him the joy of bringing them joy.
Of course, films can play with parameters and go to extremes, which is what “Joker” likely does (it is based on a comic book, after all). But the theme is much simpler: sometimes monsters just need a little push to reveal themselves. What Tannenbaum doesn’t realize is that this film isn’t trying to encourage, to hear Phillips tell it, the monsters out from hiding. Rather it should be taken as a mirror held up to woke critic’s own wagging finger, with the not-so-subtle suggestion that he, and the entirety of the whole woke subculture, might be the ones doing the pushing.