I wrote both this blog and the prior one while reflecting on Joker, I didn’t necessarily know where I was going with it initially. I thought this train of thought was interesting so I continued to write, this is the second iteration of my thoughts on the movie. What do we know about the world of Joker and, perhaps more searchingly, can we know it?
This borrows heavily from a YouTube video linked here. There are spoilers ahead, sorry everyone.
Critics and audience are at odds concerning this movie. Having achieved, at the time of this writing, near unanimous praise from the audience it only gets 70% from critical reviews. Interesting. Most of what I read from critics is that the movie failed to really go anywhere, or at least it didn’t really drive home its core point, or maybe that there wasn’t really a point. If they’re argument is the latter, I agree. Joker even says it, ‘I’m not political, Murray.’ In a nonchalant line as he talks about the protests, sparked by his murder of three rich up and comers in Wayne Enterprises, that decry the separation of rich and poor. We might even be moved to sympathize with the protest movement’s apparent frustrations. Joker doesn’t care. It’s not his movement, it just happened around him. What Joker wants is chaos, what he means by the chaos is up for grabs as his own motives change. As does his perception.
Key elements of the plot turn out to be delusions before the movie ends to find Joker in a room in a mental hospital laughing to himself. What if very little of the movie’s content actually happened? What if most of it was a delusion, or better yet, a joke. Much like the stories in the Dark Knight (‘wanna know how I got these scars?’) it might change depending on his mood. The stories are always tragic in nature, but here, Joker would correct me, not tragedy, comedy, he would say. Because it’s all a nihilistic joke. We’re all on stage and the cosmos is laughing at us. Joker laughs back, and performs for them.
I fundamentally disagree with this assessment of the universe. But that’s what I think they’re saying in the movie. This is an element of Worldbuilding in movies. We’re invited into Arthur Fleck’s world for a little while. We see what he sees and what he sees is whatever he feels like seeing. Our worlds partly display the philosophy that we build them upon. Much like Joker’s delusions that highlight his nihilism we create worlds surrounding our characters that draw out the best and worst of us. What assumptions have you baked into your Worldbuilding, do you mean them to be there?
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.