If you’re looking for answers as to why Joker, the Todd Phillips-helmed, gritty comic book Scorsese knock-off, garnered 11 Oscar nominations on top of being the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, then buddy, this isn’t the piece for you. I don’t have an explanation. Joker is not a ruckus Marvel CGI theme ride. It’s an excruciating anxiety-
Joker did have a few things going for it — not least DC Comics’s most notable and popular villain; Joaquin Phoenix’s definitive take on the character (sorry, Heath Ledger) and lastly; and maybe most importantly, the sympathy of an audience who has no longer decided to pay attention to a mass media more obsessed and focused on the unbearable wokeness of the moment.
When several mainstream media outlets warned of loner white man incel violence at theaters all across the nation, like what happened during The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, it was the equivalent of slapping an ‘explicit lyrics’ sticker on the movie. Certain theater chains banned Joker makeup and costumes from showings. People were now told how they were not supposed to act or dress and in that way: audiences became instantly sympathetic to a social outcast who dances down flights of stairs joyfully in the glistening sunshine, smoking a cigarette with red blood-stained lips.
Maybe our current state of world affairs and the state of our media is, like Joker’s existence, not a tragedy, but a comedy. Maybe it should be treated as such.
The widespread industry acceptance of Joker is what perplexes the most, almost as though Hollywood itself has had enough of the protests, the lectures and the scolding. Perhaps the times are changing, led by Quentin Tarantino, who will almost assuredly walk away with Best Picture and Best Director honors this year, even as he refuses to entertain questions about how many lines his actresses have.
The show, which is going without a host for the second year, is missing out on a grand opportunity to open with a Kevin Hart, or Billy Crystal, or Ricky Gervais dancing down the now iconic staircase. Maybe Joker’s 11 nominations are sending another message to the media. If they are, that message isn’t getting through, and the widespread journalistic outcry over Greta Gerwig’s perceived directorial snub proves that.
If members of woke blogging media want to suggest that Greta Gerwig was snubbed simply because she’s a woman in Donald Trump’s America, maybe Adam Sandler, who was much more deserving of a nomination than two other nominees in his category, was snubbed for Uncut Gems because of the rising anti-Semitism on the progressive left. See how far this absurd game can go?
Hollywood millionaires and the most privileged among us not getting to waltz in a dress up to a stage to collect a trophy in front of a dwindling worldwide audience is not a sign of the regression of the civil-rights movement and suffrage. Sometimes an omission is just that.
Why do celebrity-tagging clickbait journalists try to paint the single snub of a twee filmmaker they all reference to look cooler as a indictment of Trump’s America? Greta Gerwig is the vinyl-fad calculator for 20-something media people to gauge how acceptable you are in Park Slope or Silverlake. It’s certainly not Gerwig’s fault and she’s a talented filmmaker, but the outcry isn’t about her direction for Little Women production. It’s simply about uncool kids wanting to sit at the cool kids table.
Booksmart, for example, was infinitely a more interesting and original film, directed by Olivia Wilde, but was largely ignored in the social media BuzzPost HuffFeed outcries of sexism and misogyny. A Twitter user brought up a good point however, that perhaps Wilde is being ignored due to her defense of her work with Clint Eastwood and Richard Jewell. Also absent in the Voxplanation and click-lectures was a proposed nomination for Kasi Lemmons’s direction of Harriet.
Were any of these women worthy of an Oscar nomination? Maybe, maybe not. These nominations came after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences added younger and more diverse members, and if members of the scold-squad Twitterati have a problem with these nominations, maybe the answer doesn’t lie out there in ‘Joker Trump’s’ America, but in the progressive liberal industry they’ve all been fawning over for access.
Stephen L. Miller is a writer in New York. He has been a Fox News contributor and writing credits include Heat Street and National Review. He is currently the host of the Versus Media podcast on Patreon.