The 2019 Film titled “Joker” is the highest-grossing R-rated film of all times crossing the billion-dollar mark on the box office. This movie introduced the iconic villain in a new light. And also served as a very interesting alternate version of the Joker’s origin story. In this story, the director has tried to present the role of society in the formation of psychopaths or criminals. The film also introduced a lot of one-liners that will stick with us forever. The most famous one-liner from the film Joker is “You get what you deserve”.
This film starred Joaquin Phoenix as Joker. His name is Arthur Fleck who dresses up as a clown to earn money and wants to become a stand-up comedian. He lives with his mom and takes good care of her. This story follows Arthur’s descent into madness due to society’s behavior. And as a result, he inspires a mass movement against Gotham’s elite.
Arthur also suffers from a disorder that causes him to laugh uncontrollably at any time when the disorder kicks in. This laughter is also very painful for Arthur as well. The Joker’s character is developed as the movie progresses and in the final few scenes when Arthur has embraced the title of Joker, he says the tagline ” you get what you deserve”.
Portrayal of Society
This story provides us an alternate take on the origin story of the Joker. And also sheds light on the role of society in driving somebody to the brink of insanity. And ultimately making the person fall into complete madness. The film even faced severe backlash because authorities believed that the film’s portrayal of society is too close to our real world. And the movie might serve as the trigger of wide-spread protests all over the US.
Due to this reason, the film was also not approved for public release in China as well. As the authorities feared that the movie may cause the Hong Kong protests to intensify. This was also due to the fact the movement against the rich in the film symbolizes the oppression against the poor and their exploitation in the real world or oppression of people and not giving them equal rights.
Summary of The “Joker”
Arthur Fleck is a part-time clown and wants to become a stand-up comedian. He also suffers from mental disorders and relies on social welfare programs for the medications. He lives with his mother and loves to take care of her.
In the initial scenes of the film, a group of delinquents steal the sign that Arthur carries dressed up as a clown. And he is seen crying for help while chasing the group but nobody intervenes. The group attacks Arthur in an alley and breaks his sign. Arthur’s manager instead of consoling Arthur blames him for lying to take days off work and making excuses that a group attacked him and broke the sign. He even cuts Arthur’s salary to compensate for the sign. The film portrays Gotham’s society as inconsiderate and non-helping.
Arthur’s colleague Randall gives him a gun for his protection against such types of incidents. He starts a relationship with his neighbor and invites him to his upcoming performance. At the start of the performance, Arthur’s disorder kicks in and he begins to laugh uncontrollably while trying to say his Jokes.
The next day he is performing a clown for children at the hospital where the gun that Randal gave him falls on the floor. Due to this reason his boss fires him. Randall also lies that he does not know anything about the gun and Arthur must have bought it himself.
That night a depressed Arthur is taking the train home dressed up in his clown costume, three young employees of Wayne Enterprises are also on the train with him. His laughter kicks in and the employees instead of checking on him start beating him up very badly. It is when he gets the gun out and fires at them killing two of the employees on the spot and injuring the third one.
The third one escapes when the train stops but Arthur follows him and executes him. After this event, Thomas Wayne condemns the incident calling the less fortunate people Clowns. This results in wide-spread protests against Gotham’s elite.
Meanwhile Arthur finds out that he might be Thomas Wayne’s son and when he confronts Thomas he berates him calling his mother Penny delusional. He also tells him that Arthur himself is adopted. And punches him on the face before leaving.
After this encounter Arthur goes to Arkham General where he finds out that he is indeed adopted. And his mother let his stepdad torture Arthur in his childhood scarring him for life even causing his laughter disorder. His mother tells him that adoption was Thomas’s plan to save his name.
But Arthur faces a nervous breakdown and enters his neighbors house. Who pleads him to leave making Arthur realize that all of this was his imagination. He gets even more depressed when his idol Murray Franklin shows clips from his comedy performance and ridicules him.
All of this leads Arthur to snap and he kills his mother. He is then invited to the Franklin show because his clips have become very popular.
He embraces the movement where protesters are covering their faces with clown masks and dresses up to go the show. He dyes his hair green and on reaching the set asks Murray to introduce him as the “Joker”.
Arthur’s starts the interview rather awkwardly when he tells a joke about a dead child but does not finish the punch line calling it the joke. It appalls the audience. He goes on to accept to the killings of the three Wayne employees telling him that comedy is subjective. Murray asks him that did he murder to start a movement. To which Arthur replies that he killed them because they were awful.
He goes on to list the evils in the society one by one and tells Murray that if he had died then nobody would have cared. Just because Thomas Wayne supported the employees everybody is feeling bad for their deaths. He tells Murray that everyone is awful even Murray as well. And when Murray inquires further, Arthur tells him that he was invited on the show so that he can be laughed at more, and Murray can make fun of him, calling it an awful act.
Joker You get what you deserve
Murray Franklin tries to end the show when Arthur tells that he has one last joke. Murray says that they had enough of his jokes. But Arthur completes his joke by asking ” What do you get when you cross a mentally-ill loner with a society that abandons him and treats him like trash? I’ll tell you what you get! YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE! pulling out his gun and shooting Murray in the head, instantly killing him.
The audience starts running away in horror. And Joker gets arrested but the movement has spread everywhere and they free Joker and embrace him as their leader. It is also shown that during these riots Thomas and Martha are killed in front of Bruce. Planting seeds for him to become The Batman.
The camera shifts to a room inside the Arkham Asylum with Arthur laughing and the therapist asking the reason behind his laughter. To which Arthur replies that she would not understand. The camera then shifts to a hallway with Arthur running and guards trying to apprehend him. With his footsteps covered in blood. Implying that he had killed the therapist.
One of the most important fan theories is that no matter how inspiringly the “You get what you deserve” words were spoken by Joker, but it was all in his mind because whenever the time is shown in the movie it is 11:11. Claiming it as proof that time is not moving forward and all of this is happening in Arthur’s imagination.
But this theory has since been shot down by the Director Todd Phillips calling the matching of time on clocks inside the movie in different scenes as a coincidence.
The movie culminates into the anger of a mentally challenged person shooting down someone who made him a Joke on a TV show and playing his part in Arthur’s snapping. The movie offers a very well thought ending with the joker saying “you get what you deserve” line. Joker saying the line you get what you deserve is him actually channeling his anger and confronting the society in the form of Murray Franklin.
This scene is a true representation of a society where mentally challenged people are called freaks and made fun of. Making the mentally challenged person into an irreversible madman instead of trying to treat him with care and compassion to try to cure him.
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