A bunch of “woke” critically acclaimed flops earlier this year should have given moviemakers a clue that the American public is not as interested in weak men and social justice lectures posing as entertainment as they might think.
The latest shot in the entertainment wars (which have included everything from censorship and boycotting shows and films to creating thinly disguised lectures and then releasing them as films) is the controversy over the new Joker film.
The Joker is the latest entry in the Batman saga, directed by Todd Philips and starring Joaquin Phoenix. Even before its release, the film triggered outrage from “woke” commentators and dire predictions that an audience made up of primarily white men would lead to tragedy at movie theaters across the nation. Despite these unfounded warnings, the film has already broken even, and made over $500 million worldwide in the two weeks since its release. This makes the film a marked success, particularly when the warnings and hideous reviews from progressives are considered.
The Joker is a dark film, both in style and in theme; it tells the origin story of the Batman villain, and is a depressing journey into his beginning. Heavy dread and grim settings abound and the unflinching look at depression, mental illness and a dark, depressing life make up most of the film. Despite this gritty setting, the film has resonated with audiences and is currently the top October film – and rivals only IT: Chapter One as a fall-opening film.
Critics, particularly those on the left, hated the Joker on sight, and made a massive, coordinated effort to kill the film’s opening week. Over 50 percent of Rotten Tomatoes’ top critics posted terrible reviews of Joker, while 90 percent of the audience rated it favorably. This disparity is just the beginning, though. More problematic are the sheer number of blogs, articles and opinion pieces calling the movie “triggering”, “racist” and “dangerous,” often because of the film’s “whiteness.” Despite no presence in the film, many reviewers mentioned President Donald Trump and his supporters while discussing the film.
Before release, the mainstream media and progressive groups lobbied to cancel the film and to blacklist the movie entirely. When that failed, most switched to fear tactics, citing the movie’s likely audience (white men) as dangerous. Some outlets went so far as to suggest moviegoers could experience massacres and mass shootings perpetrated by these dangerous audience members. There have been no acts of violence of any type associated with the film to date, despite these outraged and alarmist predictions.
Despite the outrage and scare tactics, the film resonated with audiences, who found the strong performances, gritty 1980’s setting and unflinching look at this character compelling. Despite the dire warnings and onslaught of complaints about the film, Joker has drawn a mature adult audience looking for a deeper story and conversation — and continues to break records.