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These are the harrowing words delivered by leading-man Joaquin Phoenix in the film Joker. Phoenix’s impressive portrayal of Arthur Fleck, or “The Joker,” has earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role.
Perhaps it was Phoenix’s performance that made Joker so compelling for people. There’s no debate that it was captivating to audiences, having set records with its October release and being the first R-rated film to gross over a billion dollars. It was undoubtedly a box office success.
The chilling story also gripped audiences. Like watching a train wreck, the story of Arthur Fleck is simultaneously horrifying and spellbinding. We watch as Fleck, a failed comedian living in desperate conditions in Gotham City, stumbles from one disappointing venture to the next, attempting to find community, belonging, and purpose. Sadly, his search is met with cold disregard at best and sheer vitriol at worst. We witness his descent into worsening mental illness, quickened by the mistreatment he receives and the vile acts he witnesses, which eventually lead to his violent persona, “The Joker.”
The end of the film has a particularly disturbing scene. We get a glimpse into Fleck’s mind as he fully succumbs to his mental illness and embodies “The Joker.” He reveals what has warped him into the very evil that he hated so much, stating: “Nobody’s civil anymore. Nobody thinks what it’s like to be the other guy.” Shortly after, he murders a man in cold blood.
Nobody’s civil anymore. An exaggeration? Perhaps for some. But for Arthur, that fairly accurately sums up his entire life. Abused, deceived, mocked, manipulated, exploited – he was defined by sorrow. Perhaps as egregious as the injustices themselves that were inflicted upon him was the amount of cold disregard he received in response – no one stepped in to help.
This is the origin story of one of DC Comic’s most notorious villains: unbearable sorrow that led to mental illness that led to violence. And while it’s just a story, one wonders: what intervention might have stopped Arthur Fleck’s plunge into darkness? “Nobody’s civil anymore,” he asserts. But what if that hadn’t been true?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Savannah Aleckson