Art is Not Just Angst - Why "Joker" is Ass

By A Band Called SAD

Art is Not Just Angst - Why "Joker" is Ass

I'm writing this because when people ask seemingly innocuous questions like "did you see Joker", I feel I have far too many thoughts to share than is appropriate for the situation.

But, luckily I pay about thirty bucks a months to host a website where I'm allowed to pen out a diatribe over nothing.

So yes, I saw Joker. I didn't like it. Not because it was too edgy, it wasn't too unrealistic, it wasn't too dark. Yes, the critiques calling it "baby's first Taxi Driver" are completely appropriate. And yes, there is not a moment in the movie where it doesn't rely on Joaquin's performance to carry it.

It just makes me so sad to look at our culture and see something so cynical, so indulgent in nihilism as Joker, resonating so intensely with the public at large.

Don't forget the critics--especially The Academy--which is of course meaningless--but does represent a means of financial incentivization towards specific kinds of films being made.

Art is not just angst.

Something I'm learning more each time I pick up an instrument or a pencil or look in the mirror. Life is not just angst. We shouldn't be trying to quantify our lives or art by how distant we are from our least-desired emotional state. We shouldn't be judging art based on how much it makes us hurt, even though that is a consideration.

What was great about Radiohead when I was 15 and figuring out love and friendship and sex and heartbreak was not that it made me cry, but that it seemed like it understood me. The medium itself became invisible and what remained was a voice saying "I understand". Luckily, that isn't mutually exclusive to sadness. The negative and cathartic emotional/physical reaction of crying was a symptom of experiencing what it's like to be seen so intently. So understood--by a stranger. Thanks, Thom.

It took me forever to realize that connecting to people through trauma and angst and suffering was not the only way to feel connected-ness.

I really do believe it reinforces and incentivizes us to seek out negative emotions, or have at least have a tendency towards experiencing them, when we only reach out and try to connect with one another when we feel down. Not good.

It is so often when we're in our greatest moments of weakness that we seek connected-ness. When are we at our most vulnerable? I would argue it's when we're happy. But is it possible to uncouple the feeling of negative emotion with the yearning for human connection? Or at least, make positive emotion a place from which we WANT to share, instead of a place where we think we're strong and need no help? Genuinely asking this is not hypothetical.

It feels like there is an embargo on sharing positive emotion in our culture. Or that resonating with joy over pain is somehow less cathartic, and somehow less developmental or affecting. We often gate keep ourselves as to our own level of happiness. We find it shameful to speak about good things that happen to us in fear of looking pompous--like we're bragging. But having someone over-explain their terrible day is somehow viewed more charitably.

Why does it seem like there is a cultural priority to resonate with the negative? "I loved Rogue One because it was so dark"-- Fuck you. That's not a reason to like something. And was it really dark anyway? I've seen The Pianist. People shooting ray guns in space is gritty now? I really do not believe darkness is something to celebrate. Joker blows. And not because it's a bad movie.

Also, if you liked the movie--you are also completely right.



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