The Joker is in the back of my head as I come today to office. I greet the security guard and the office boy with a smile, and with a part of me that feels sad, reflecting on the emotions of Joaquin Phoenix who knew exactly how to portray the feelings of someone enduring social injustice.
That’s the core message of this strong film. Social injustice that we grew to accept as a natural state of life, embracing the status quo and brushing off the harsh reality of the lives of many people living with us.
And while, enduring the daily struggle of living at the bottom of the social ladder, or the invisible side of it, is a valid reason for someone to develop contempt towards this society, the Joker has been lucky to combine that with a history of abuse and mental illness. A formula that built a character we grew to love and admire at the end.
The film doesn’t glorify villains as some critique claims. In the contrary, it raises an alarm. It is a strong wake up call. It is a call for every single one of us to pay more attention, to be nicer and look beyond our own needs and vanity. The Joker, hasn’t been a villain in this film, not to me, and not even towards the end when his character develops into enjoying killing other people. And to be honest, the minute he shots the first person is a turning point in the film. Not because he pulls the trigger, but the effect of it on him. The empowering look on his face, the liberating feeling and the healing from the psychological pain he endured for so long.
It is not right. I know. But I accept it because it is a film. There is a part of me that can’t handle the sight of psychological struggle of other people. I wish to help and I know that I fall short in many times. But that same part, played on by the film makers, made me cheer to the Joker as he took those lives. Yes, smile. I wanted to see him smiling and clapped when he did. Yes, dance. I loved how he danced and wanted to dance with him.
Be happy. I wanted to see him happy but that didn’t happen. And that is unreasonable to expect at the point he reached. He is broken beyond repair and his actions are no longer to seek justice or take revenge, but more of becoming mad to fit into the craziness of the world he found himself in.
And here, I can’t ignore the connection my mind made between the Joker and Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, triggering the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring. One might find this film dark and heavy, but looking at our reality and the state of the region since Bouazizi burnt himself, shows us clearly that more than often, reality is darker than fiction.