The Joker is a magnetic character who always keeps the reader guessing, and like many other DC fans, I am excited about the upcoming film Joker, which stars Joaquin Phoenix.
However, people have complained about the clown prince of crime. Many have claimed that the Joker represents ‘angry, white men’ and that such a film has no place in today’s world. Other claims are that by making the Joker sympathetic to viewers, that will lead to violent behaviour by white men. From the perspective of writers from The Mary Sue and Refinery29, it is dangerous for white, angry men to see themselves in fictional characters like The Joker.
In fiction, there are different rules than in real-life. Being a fan of the Joker is not the same as that of Charles Manson. Yes, the Joker kills people who aren’t real. And sometimes, the audience will associate such acts with the violence that infects our real world.
Yet, there needs to be nuance. Being associated with cruelty doesn’t make you the cause of such violence. For every fan of the Joker who commits violence, there are hundreds of thousands that don’t.
It’s ludicrous to blame fiction for real tyranny. There is no logical argument for that position, and it’s evil to use the victims of real-life tragedies to rebel against media you dislike.
In the late 1990s, people blamed Marilyn Manson for tragedies such as the Columbine shootings. Not only was that gross and unfair, but society has not learned the relevant lesson. Blaming movies, music, TV shows and video games for actual violence will not solve any problems. It will only cause more societal division and anger.
When I was a teenager, entertainment and fiction helped me comprehend life’s difficulties and made me feel less alone. And I’m not the only one. I believe that when people feel connected; they are less likely to commit acts of terror. So, if ‘angry, white men’ watch The Joker and feel validated, then I don’t believe that’s the worst thing in the world.
One of the great things about fiction is that the audience can relate to a variety of characters. And who is to say that these characters have to be morally righteous?
When I was a young girl, I related to fictional characters ranging from Jo March to Anakin Skywalker. Am I a better or a worse person because of that? Well, I refuse to have my morality judged by my taste in fictional characters.
What characters people relate to is no sign of their personal worth. I mean, let’s be better than that. Are we going to judge someone’s character by who they relate to? At Snowy Fictions, I try to be understanding, but that’s pathetic.
Fiction should create relatable characters that are three-dimensional and feel real. When a work of fiction creates strawman or weak characters, then that work of fiction has failed. From a storytelling perspective, the Joker should be interesting. And personally? I like characters that make you think about morality and humanity. It makes for a richer, better story.
What’s dangerous is when we constantly berate young men and their problems and act as if they have no right to feeling emotions such as anger. That will lead to lethal acts of violence. We need to talk to each other more, not be so hateful that we label any anger from a white man as ‘evil.’
I will always encourage civil dialogue between people who may not agree.
Anger is a human emotion that everyone, including white men, has a right to experience. Being angry doesn’t equate to acting like an abuser. It means you are human and feel things.
In conclusion, there is no concrete evidence that characters such as the Joker lead to actual deaths. When people take inspiration from fiction, there is an underlying mental health issue or sociopolitical reasons. I hope people remember that when Joker hits the cinemas.
But maybe it’s easier to blame a work of fiction than analyze the causes of lethal violence.
What do you think about this discussion? Comment below, and contribute to the discussion!