Hidden Meanings Behind the "Joker" Movie
Reviewed by Joy Davis

Synopsis: The "Joker" movie is an action and adventure drama that is based on a super villain by DC Comics. This is Joker's origin story that is set in Gotham City where Arthur Fleck lives with his invalid mother and works as a clown-for-hire.  His alter ego, the Joker, emerges after shooting three drunken businessmen in the subway that sparked a violent clown movement by the poor against the wealthy and privileged, including mayoral candidate, Thomas Wayne.   

Warning: Spoilers within the Presentation

Gotham City: A Parallel Reality

Welcome to "Conscious Movie Reviews."  I'm your host Joy Davis and here to review the movie, "Joker", an action and adventure drama that's based on a DC comic book character.  My special thanks to the teachings of Paul Levy for helping to explain how our society's collective consciousness has contributed to the creation of a mentally ill super villain.  

Dressed as a clown, Arthur Fleck held up a store sign that read "Everything Must Go."  When some punk kids snatched it away, he chased them into an alley and was brutally attacked - a common occurrence in their city that reeked of crime, poverty, and unemployment.  

Mystic Healer Sonja Grace described Gotham City as spiritually bankrupt.  It's a mythical playground of urban decay where we can explore our dysfunction, emotional woundings, and psychological issues.

The "Everything Must Go" sign was more like a prophetic message.  What's about to go is every bit of his sanity and goodness. 

A Mix of Comedy and Tragedy

Arthur cared for his ailing mother Penny within a run-down apartment complex.  He earned money as a clown for hire while pursuing a career in stand-up comedy.  They were part of the city's disenfranchised. 

Due to a disorder, Arthur would break out in uncontrollable fits of laughter that was socially inappropriate.  He enrolled in a social services program to receive seven kinds of medication and counseling for his mental illness.   

Just like a hyena, Arthur grinned a lot and laughed in a maniacal way.  They made that sound from being frustrated in social conflicts.  His smile, though forced, was self-soothing for him. 

Since childhood, Arthur's mother encouraged him to put on a happy face.  He did that as a clown - a disguise for his inner pain.  And by doing stand-up comedy, it was a means for him to bring laughter into their cold, dark world.  Like many comedians, they mix comedy with tragedy as social critics with underlying feelings of unhappiness.   

America's Export of Mental Illness

When Arthur and his mother tuned in to watch talk show host Murray Franklin, he imagined getting the host's attention as an audience member to have an endearing exchange between them. 

After meeting Sophie, a single mother within his apartment complex, Arthur became infatuated with her.  He would see them dating, that progressed into a meaningful relationship, but only in his mind as delusions.

Originally, the Joker character was criminally insane.  This current film deviates from that to present him as mentally insane.  It raises the question of why America keeps exporting mental illness around the world.  Ethan Watters, author of "Crazy Like Us," concluded from his research that the U.S. has been homogenizing the way the world goes mad by marketing American-style depression, PTSD, and anorexia.  It's the globalization of America's psyche to glamorize a disease as it causes imitation.  

Arthur's Alter Ego

After hearing that Arthur got mugged, his fellow co-worker Randall lent him a gun.  He dropped it by accident while performing before a crowd at the children's hospital.  The complaints received and Randall's claim that Arthur bought the gun, lead to his immediate firing.  More bad news arrived when his social worker told him that he can't get his usual meds anymore bacause their program's funding was cut by the city. 

While riding the train that evening, Arthur drew the attention of three drunken businessmen of Wayne Enterprises with his maniacal laugh after witnessing them harass a woman with fries.  He shot two of them out of self-defense, then executed the third.  He ran from the station to hide in a bathroom and do a slow dance.

Because these killings were done in a subway, it's arising from a dark place within him.  For those who feel victimized, using a gun is a shortcut to feeling powerful.  The men acted like "small fry" with their frivolous and bothersome behavior. 

The sinuous dance in the bathroom symbolized Arthur's Initiatiatory Dance of Power.  As a serpentine-like energy moves through his being, he is reborn with an alter ego.    

The Criminal We Deserve

In the news, mayoral candidate Thomas Wayne spoke out about the subway murders.  He called the clown a coward, condeming his act as part of an anti-rich sentiment in Gotham City by those who are envious of the more fortunate.  Many felt so incensed by his remarks that a clown movement was organized in response.

The media took sides to either demonize Arthur or laud him as a hero. 

Taking a quote from Robert Kennedy, "Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves." 

When we feel troubled from watching the "Joker" movie, we see ourselves as separate, but we're not.  He is a reflection of our collective pathology.

According to Paul Levi, a pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, he teaches that we're all having a mass, shared dream.  We're all dreaming up this pathology of madness within the collective psyche.  It's our co-creation made manifest into 3-D reality.

Levi adds that "the only person to blame is ourselves. We're all complicit.  Seeing evil can trigger our own self-righteousness or reactivity and that's the evil playing out inside of ourselves.  As you keep it outside of yourself, you're unwittingly becoming an instrument of evil, all the while you believe you're doing good.  The source of it is within ourselves.  Own it."

The Shadow of Madness

Penny's delusions are an example of how we project the shadow outside of us.  They were improbable realities she escaped to.  Arthur bought into her story that his father is Thomas Wayne from a past affair, until he read her file at the Arkham Asylum.  She's really his adoptive mother - a child abuser with mental illness.  He finally "woke up" from her delusions. 

Hospitalized with a coma, Arthur smothered Penny to death.  He continued his serial killing spree by knifing Randall, then shooting Murray Franklin in the face during a televised interview.

Left with a splattering of blood on him from Randall's murder, it symbolized that Arthur would have to make a sacrifice to get the things he wants in life.   

Arthur's acts of vengeance can relate to how he reflects our collective potential for madness that's trying to kill off its shadow.  We  would become possessed by the very darkness that we're trying to destroy.  This is insanity.

Thomas Wayne's family tried to escape from the wrath of killer clowns, but was gunned down, except for their son, Bruce.  

As a riot broke out in Gotham City, the Joker basked in its fiery destruction.  The scene gives meaning to an African proverb: The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth. 

From Darkness to Light

The darker the dream gets, it's a sign that the light is nearby, that the light is emerging.  When enough people in this waking dream of ours have that recognition and connect with each other, we can activate our collective genius and change the dream, explained Levi.  The film's popularity is proof of our evolutionary impulse.  We're choosing to understand that society's treatment of the mentally ill is the real sickness.  It's a step towards building a preferred culture that values all life before healing can emerge.  

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