Back in the 1950s, a psychiatrist named Dr. Fredric Wertham published a book titled Seduction of the Innocent, which blamed the scourge of juvenile delinquency on the violence, sexual suggestiveness, and other bad things depicted in American comic books. His crusade was so successful that he almost destroyed the comic book industry. Other than the big characters like Superman and Batman, which sold well no matter what, the business limped along for a decade until Stan Lee and Jack Kirby breathed new life into it in the ’60s. Today, comic book properties are a billion-dollar business. And while Fredric Wertham died decades ago, he never really went away. His meddlesome spirit just skipped a couple of generations, dyed its hair pink, and started babbling about social justice.
Which brings me to the upcoming Joker movie. I’ve been skeptical about it, because this will be the fourth cinematic Joker in the past 30 years and that’s at least two too many. This trend of villains getting their own movies, without the superheroes they typically fight, just seems weird. And the Venom flick wasn’t very good.
But then again, the Joker trailer actually looks… pretty decent?
— Joker Movie (@jokermovie) August 28, 2019
People are comparing it to The King of Comedy, but the whole point of that movie is that Robert De Niro isn’t funny. Now he’s playing Jerry Langford, basically? Well, maybe this will be one of the rare latter-day De Niro performances where he actually wants to be there.
The critics have started to weigh in, and reaction is mixed. Looks like it’s the type of thing you’ll like, if you like that type of thing.
The movie doesn’t premiere for a month, but the wokescolds already know they don’t like it. This is going to be the worst thing that any movie, comic book, video game, or other cultural artifact can possibly be: Problematic!
Courtesy of Heather Antos, an editor for Valiant Comics:
Why the Joker movie is problematic. Rachel Miller nails it. pic.twitter.com/vTHlVOBHCY
— Heather Antos (@HeatherAntos) September 5, 2019
It was not that long ago when a socially isolated disgruntled white man who felt “wronged” by society quite literally dressed up as the Joker and shot up a movie theater in Colorado.
— Heather Antos (@HeatherAntos) September 6, 2019
You can read the Facebook post here. It manages to work “neurodivergent” and “f***boys” into the same argument, so you know you’re dealing with an SJW. The idea is that this movie is bad because it depicts bad behavior, and somehow it will make people do things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
This argument has been around forever, of course. There was the aforementioned Frederic Wertham, blaming society’s ills on horror comics. In the ’80s there was Al & Tipper Gore’s Parents Music Resource Center, which slapped warning labels on music CDs that were supposedly harmful to young people, but actually told kids which CDs were the coolest. And more recently, authoritarian scolds have turned their attention to video games. Apparently, Call of Duty and other violent games are responsible for this spate of mass shootings. There’s always something to blame for crime, other than the people actually committing the crime.
When I was young, it was older people who kept scolding me about what I should watch or read or play. Now that I’m old, all the same garbage is coming from younger people. Somebody always knows how I should live my life better than I do. These finger-wagging busybodies will never go away.
As always, here’s what you do when you don’t like a movie, or a TV show, or a book, or whatever: Don’t spend your time and money on it. Do something else with your life. If other people want to spend their time and money on it, let them. A movie isn’t going to make anybody hurt anybody. It doesn’t have mind-control powers. It’s not the boogeyman.
The Joker isn’t real. He’s not gonna get you. Relax.
And please let Fredric Wertham rest in peace.