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Adina Samuels

Writer, editor, and podcast host with production, storytelling, and community-building experience.

  • Writer's pictureAdina Samuels

Joker's on You

Updated: Dec 6, 2020

I went to see The Joker over two months ago, when the hype was everywhere.

People were talking about it, reading about it, analyzing it... I had to get in on it all.

And, to boot, I had just gotten through the Batman movies (a superhuman feat for me, someone who doesn't usually watch Superhero movies and doesn't know the difference between Marvel and DC).

Although it took me about a week to watch The Dark Knight Rises on Netflix (I kept falling asleep...), I was finally ready to see the movie everyone was talking about.

One quick thing to know about me: I am an obedient audience member. If the movie is halfway decent, I'll cry when I'm supposed to, laugh even before the punchline, and I am an easy scare. Which is why, typically, I stay far away from horror movies. Even just the theme music in the background of an ad on television can keep me up at night.

Despite hearing accounts of people leaving the theatre halfway through The Joker because it was so disturbing, I felt strong enough and curious enough to give it a watch.

And boy, it did not disappoint.

Yeah, it was scary, but predictably so. It kept me up at night, but not because I thought The Joker would come into my room and try to skin me alive (well, mostly not because of that).

It was a heartbreaking depiction of the struggle of a lower-class man struggling with mental health in a city that didn't care for or about him. It was the tale of one, and the tale of many.

It kept me up at night because I identified with Arthur Fleck's struggle.

Not only could I sympathize, but, during the film, I was ridiculed, mocked, beaten up, infuriated, frustrated, vengeful, right alongside the hero.

The Joker showed us the man behind the mask. He isn't a psychopathic villain on a mindless killing spree. He is a man who was dealt a bad hand of cards.

That is why I was afraid. I understood The Joker.

The Joker is a story of a man pushed one step too far. Those could have been my cards, and who's to say I wouldn't have reacted in exactly the same way?

As the movie showed us, the mask became a movement. All those who wore a clown mask were fighting for a well-deserved cause.

All that being said, I can't help but wonder what it will mean when someone wears a clown mask on Halloween.

Are these civilians just as riled up as Arthur? Are they resisting the institutions in silence? Do they have the urge to shoot at the slightest provocation?

Or, are they merely appreciating the art of the movie? Is a slapstick clown face just a good costume?

All I know is, when I see someone wearing a Joker costume, I will have to get to know the human behind the mask.

Even without the costume, we can all afford to reflect on the way we treat people and the masks we wear everyday. Because, who knows what one kind conversation can prevent?

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