Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Commentary on the "Arkham’s Razor"(Social Critique of JOKER) by Steve Sailer

Joker is a clever and memorable (although not terribly original or enjoyable) R-rated art-house drama in the tradition of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy masquerading as yet another comic book movie.

Actually, it's the opposite. It's another moronic superhero(or super-antihero) movie masquerading as serious entertainments EVEN FOR ADULTS. Gee, it might even be the stuff of 'art'.

Bizarre as it would have seemed in 1976, playing Batman’s maniacal archenemy has become for movie stars what portraying Richard III is for Shakespearean actors: the ultimate test of their villain chops.

Jack Nicholson started this trend with the first BATMAN movie where he stole the show from Michael Keaton, or so I heard as I still haven't seen it.
Actors like to ham it up, and the role of Joker allows them to go Full Clown. Joker is ultra-exhibitionist in his devilry. Unlike most villains who simply want to terrorize and intimidate, Joker acts the rock star like Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, and Little Richard. Apart from rock stars, another rambunctious bunch are comedians, and Joker is a comic too. Playing Joker allows actors to bring out their Id in full force, especially as their faces are covered with paint. If Batman uses his mask to hide his identity, Joker uses the face-paint to enhance his. If Batman is the dark knight, Joker is the bright jester. The only Joker who works for me is the one played by homo Cesar Romero in the TV series. I can't imagine Nicholson as the Joker(and much less Michael Keaton as Batman). I did sit through Heath Ledger as Joker, and it was painful, as if I was trapped in a Marilyn Manson concert where he did nothing but talk, which would be worse than if he sang.

The 19th-century Romantics conceived of madness, such as in Donizetti’s opera Lucia di Lammermoor, as an excess of emotion and personality. Actor Dustin Hoffman, who’d once had a day job as an attendant at the New York state mental hospital, introduced in The Graduate and Rain Man a new alternative: the mentally challenged as depressed, obsessive-compulsive, and on the spectrum.

I don't see Benjamin Braddock in THE GRADUATE as mentally challenged. He's just confused as he realizes the future has arrived, and it's the comfortable but stifling stasis of middle class life. In college, the future was out there somewhere. Post-graduation, he has lost his wings and landed on the future, and it means becoming just like his parents who are not bad people but so like everyone else in their social milieu. He wanted to be 'different'. And once Braddock falls head over heels over Elaine, how is his mental condition not an excess of emotion and personality? His true personality emerges in its nerd-jock romantic fury, and he drives up and down and up and down California to fulfill his mission. It's so powerful so that Elaine, despite having made her vows, calls out to him. In its own way, it is very operatic.

Phoenix, who played the Emperor Commodus in Gladiator and Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, is a stupendous actor.

Is he? Certainly not in those two roles. As Commodus, he was the usual arch-villain, nothing more. His Cash was totally ill-conceived. The real Cash had a droopy look and been-there-done-that hangdog style like he just got out of bed with a hangover. But Phoenix, who looks nothing like Cash by the way, makes him out to be flashier than Elvis Presley. If anyone made the movie work, it was Reese Witherspoon.

Why do comic book movies dominate the box office?

Simple. CGI. Before CGI, it wasn't easy to make convincing superhero movies. SUPERMAN with Christopher Reeve came closest, but even his movies don't look so good now. Prior to CGI, impressive-looking sci-fi and superhero movies were rare. One had to wait around for another STAR WARS movie or some such. Consider movies like BLACK HOLE and SATURN 3. Though made after STAR WARS with big enough budgets, they looked terrible even then. But TERMINATOR 2 really changed the movie landscape. Suddenly, it was possible to generate out cool-looking movies with space gadgets and superheroes on a yearly basis.

With the shift in pop cultural hegemony from Old Americans to Ellis Island Americans, movies based on comic book superheroes, most of whom were dreamed up by American Jews from the 1930s into the 1960s, now fill the role once played by Westerns as Hollywood’s bread-and-butter genre.

There's one key difference. Westerns were cheap to make though there were some very expensive productions. In contrast, even though CGI has made it more feasible to produce superhero movies with lavish special effects, they are still A or AAA productions. As such, superhero movies are rolled out as 'events'. It's not bread-and-butter but cake-and-ale. In that sense, superhero movies are more comparable to works like GONE WITH THE WIND, TEN COMMANDMENTS, BEN-HUR, SOUND OF MUSIC, DR. ZHIVAGO, GODFATHER, and TITANIC. The difference is, in the old days, the biggest budgets went toward middlebrow entertainment for adults, whereas the biggest budgets now go into franchise movies that target mainly youths or youth-stuck adults. Now, if these movies were just meant for kids and youths, they'd at least be honest. But even people mired in childishness crave some degree of respectability and seriousness. And so, what had been kid stuff is being done 'seriously', as if they're loaded with complex, even profound, meaning. Now, it's true enough that even superhero material do have mythic overtones and moral meanings. One can find such even in daily comic strips. But they lack deep insight, and what's truly ridiculous of our age is pretending there is such to be found in stories such as BATMAN and STAR WARS(which isn't exactly EXCALIBUR).

Even worse is the rise of fanfic literal-mindedness. Fanfickery used to be a subculture of nerdy or aspergy fanatics, but its mindset has taken over the mainstream of pop culture. What is a key feature of fanfickery? The fans become so immersed in their favorite movies or books(or even videogames) that they go about literally constructing a 'realistic' universe from the fantasy material.
And this JOKER movie has all the hallmarks of fanfickery. For sane people, the character of Joker has to be taken at face value on the comic book level. He's some fun looney-bin villain who sets off fireworks as he dukes it out with his arch-nemesis Batman in Gotham City. In other words, he's an archetype of pop mythology, nothing more, nothing less. But it seems this JOKER movie goes about constructing a real-life biography of how he became what he is. Do we really want the biography or autobiography of Joker, Penguin, Riddler? It'd be as foolish as trying to map out the childhood of 007 or the Man with No Name(of Dollars Trilogy), with 'deep' psychological probing into how they became the way they are. Such would be absurd, but fanfickers want so much to believe in their favored fictional universes that they keep expanding it to make the characters and story-threads more real, or more perverse, like what the author of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY did with TWILIGHT. In a way, all those STAR WARS novels are officially sanctioned fanfics for people who just can't get enough of its 'universe'. Or take the rebooting of THE PLANET OF THE APES. The original series was meant as satire that says something about OUR world, and only a fool would ponder how the world might literally be taken over by real apes. It'd be like concocting a 'scientific' explanation as to why there are tiny people in GULLIVER'S TRAVELS. It's like how the aliens in GALAXY QUEST have an earnest take on earthling entertainment and materialize it into reality, a fanfic dream. Such 'alien' mentality is pervasive among fanfic loonies.

Phillips tries by eliminating all the superpowers.

Are there superpowers in BATMAN? Someone told me once that he likes BATMAN because it's really a contest of wits and muscle without the hokum of fantastic powers like flying in the air or shooting fireballs from one's fingertips.

"Hinckley grew up in University Park, Texas,[4] and attended Highland Park High School[5] in Dallas County. During his grade school years, he played football, basketball, hockey, soccer and baseball, learned to play the piano, and was elected class president twice."

What happened to him? He seems to have been a popular jock and personality in high school. Not your usual Pupkin or Bickle type.

In response to the Bickle-Hinckley controversy, Scorsese made The King of Comedy in 1983 to mock talentless nobodies who take showbiz too seriously.

Not sure if it was straight-out mockery. Martin Scorsese said that there is a lot of himself in Rupert Pupkin. Pupkin may be without talent, but his obsession with stardom, celebrity, and where-the-action-is has been part of Scorsese and the Movie Brats of his generation. In that sense, THE KING OF COMEDY is to Scorsese what BROADWAY DANNY ROSE is to Woody Allen. Scorsese had the talent to make it, but if he had had no talent, he could have been a creepy guy like Pupkin as he was obsessed with cinema and popular culture. (Even truer of Quentin Tarantino.) Likewise, if Allen had lacked talent, he might have ended up as someone like Broadway Danny Rose. On that level, there is some degree of sympathy for the Pupkin character who, though loathsome, pursues a dream with all his heart. Besides, the sickness in the movie as much pop culture & TV as Pupkin. TV is made up of egotistical a**holes who, every night on TV, enter your living room and pretend to be 'your friend'. TV creates the illusion of a porous wall or a portal between TV personalities and the audience. And the American Dream says anyone can make it with just enough push. Pupkin prefigures American Idol, aka American Idiot.

When bullied one night on the subway for wearing his clown makeup by three drunken white yuppies, junior executives of Wayne Enterprises, he goes all Bernie Goetz on them.

Joker vs American Psycho. That ought to make quite a movie.

Like Westerns, movies about crime-fighting superheroes tend to be inherently right-wing. Granted, Superman was usually associated with FDR’s cheerful liberalism, but Batman was always a reactionary proponent of order. Thus, the conservative director Christopher Nolan made a formidable Batman trilogy in 2005–2012.

But fighting crime is a side gig for most superheroes. Their main enemies happen to be mad scientists(tied to shady corporations), would-be-masters-of-the-world or neo-monarchists(like the Three Villains in SUPERMAN II), or the Nazis.
Christopher Nolan certainly has film-making chops, but the 'formidable'-ness is part of BATMAN's problem. When Nolan gives BATMAN a heavier treatment than DUNKIRK, something is wrong. BATMAN has to be done on the level of youth entertainment. Nolan started an awful trend that even led to heavier treatments of 007. SKYFALL was so grim and humorless I turned it off after 20 min. The problem with some sitcoms is they forget they're sitcoms, light entertainment, and get overly serious with message or meaning. BATMAN can work as entertainment for youths; it can't be serious art for adults.

Joker has gotten berserk negative reviews, noteworthy for their incoherence and anger at the film’s evenhanded politics.

Movie critics regard pop culture as political soccer. Every one of these movies is a soccer ball, and it must be kicked into the right goal. If the ball sometimes goes astray, they throw fits. When a culture becomes overly ideologized or politicized(or tribalized in terms of "Shhhhh, is it good for the Jews?"), the result is the critics unanimously going nuts over the latest Disney STAR WARS and attacking anything that is suspected of crimethink. Never mind most of these movies are about dumbthink.

The 1930s comic book authors had modeled their grinning Joker on the makeup worn by Conrad Veidt in the 1928 Expressionist Weimar-American silent film The Man Who Laughs.

Jewish role in superhero comics is rather strange. 'Superman' is a Nietzschean idea, and it couldn't have been lost on Jews who created it that Nietzsche at the time was associated with not only the German Right but Nazism.

Also, considering that the oft-heard cultural charge against Jews was that they were proponents of 'degenerate art', it's interesting to find Jewish imagination in service of aesthetically fascist ubermensch heroes of good solid looks and straight values at war with what amounts to a gallery of freaks. It's almost like watching Art-Deco-style Neo-Classicism vs Decadent Expressionism.
BATMAN is especially Wagnerian, an idea not lost on Tim Burton who made the first 'auteur' superhero movie that set the template. (I didn't see it but heard of its cool Wagnerian vibes.) And I heard the second installment with Penguin even stirred up discontent as the villain resembled 'antisemitic' tropes. Based on Nolan's work — I saw the second installment and fast-forwarded through most of part 3 where Batman trades blows with Duckface — , Gotham is less like a city than mythological mountain-scape.

There's been a general tendency to associate Jewish sensibility with freaky, goofy, twisted, and warped expressions, such as those irreverent Looney Tunes cartoons. Though Robert Crumb isn't Jewish, some of his biggest admirers have been. In contrast, Jews have been rather unenthusiastic about the idealized aestheticism of Disney and Japanese Anime. Indeed, consider what's been done to STAR WARS in Jewish hands.

But, there's the other side of Jewishness that has idolized the ideal that has often been depicted as 'Aryan', though of late, 'Afro-Aryan' seems to be favored new type. There is a side of Jewishness that wants to destroy the gods & Rhine Maidens(out of envy and resentment) and a side that wants to bask in their glory. With superhero fantasies, Jews could imagine 'Aryan'-looking archetypes who, however, sided with the people against would-be-masters-of-the-world. The heroes are fascist in style but humanist in deed.

But this poses a problem in our post-humanist world where freaks have been put on the pedestal. Superheroes fighting evil Nazis is one thing. The problem today is superheroes fighting freaks like the Joker or the scarred two-faced guy. Spiderman fights freak villains such as the Goblin, Octopus, Lizard Man, and Scorpion. It's straights vs freaks. But in a world where we are supposed to honor the lunacy of 50 genders, there is a tendency to honor freakdom. This is done by turning the superheroes less 'Aryan' and more 'diverse'(like mixed-race Aquaman who fights his blonde water-brother) or by giving us something like Sympathy for the Devil... or the Freak, and JOKER seems to be partly that.

Oddly enough, while Jews in the heart of Teutonic Land indulged in decadent and 'degenerate' expressions during the Weimar period, Jews in America so far removed from Teutonic Land concocted what were, aesthetically at least, 'Aryan' fantasies. One of the superheroes was Thor, the Germanic god and also said to be the most powerful because he's a full-blown deity. And, Jews in Hollywood produced all those Westerns(and directed a good many of them), many of them beloved by Der Fuhrer. When some radical Jews in the 60s began to denounce Westerns as 'genocidal', were they aware that they were the products of Jewish-run Hollywood?

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