SEND IN THE CLOWNS: LESSONS FOR THE DISSIDENT RIGHT IN ‘JOKER’ FILM
PUBLISHED: 29th October, 2019 | By MATT MARSHALL
Hello dear readers, and hope you are all having a happy October. Halloween is close approaching again and I expect we will see a number of the always-popular clown costumes, but also a number of the titular character of the latest cinematic storm. I refer of course to: Joker. Now I’ve waited for the movie to be out long enough so that this shouldn’t be a spoiler for anyone. If you haven’t seen the film yet and want to, I suggest you put off this article until you can catch a showing.
Joker opens upon a man with mental health issues in a city that is an absolute disgusting cesspit of crime and trash. In the opening ten minutes of the film, the white protagonist is robbed and beaten by a gang of Hispanic boys. The title character has a condition which means he sometimes bursts out laughing for no reason. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the character dreams of a comedy career and works as a clown model for advertising and children’s parties. He takes care of his older and sickly mother, and together they watch a comedy show together every night (a parody of The Tonight Show and other similar programs).
The protagonist’s situation goes from bad to worse. His co-worker gives him a gun to protect himself, which he drops at a children’s party. No one is hurt, but it is seen and reported to his boss, and he is fired. His comedy sets fall flat. His therapist is no longer able to see him because of healthcare cuts. He tries to make a kid smile by making funny faces on the bus and is verbally chastised by the kids mother. He is attacked while dressed in his clown suit by three rich white kids in suits, and kills them all with the gun in a fit of rage. The killings cause an absolute uproar and become a polarizing event, condemned as heinous by polite society, while the cities poor sympathize with the mystery “clown killer” as a symbol of resistance against the cold and unfeeling rich. People start dressing up in clown costumes, protesting and attacking cops. Most poignant of all, a relationship with the single mother down the hall, the one seemingly good thing in his life, is revealed to be nothing but a fantasy in his mind. Also his “idol” the talk show host, finds a copy of one of his failed comedy routines and mocks him on air. Never meet your heroes. The protagonist’s response is to adopt the “killer clown” persona that has been whipped up by the press and increasingly becoming more violent and rebellious towards society in general. The films conclusion has him killing the talk show host on live television, and being venerated by the almost feral mob outside, all clad in similar clown costumes. The Joker is born.
Joker is a political movie in having an anti-establishment theme, but it doesn’t really take a side. Despite being pilloried as an alt-right “hatefest”, there are a lot of left-wing themes in the film, with the rich being portrayed as callous and unfeeling towards the have-nots. Thomas Wayne, one of the main villains of the piece, is an obvious satire of Donald Trump. The three young white men who attack the Joker are the epitome of the privileged frat boy trust-fund date-rapist that leftist bloggers seem to imagine their opposition to be. The Joker’s love interest is black, and so are many of his antifa-esque supporters. And there is the whole subtext of “we need better healthcare so people like the Joker aren’t left to a cruel and unfeeling world that could drive them to commit atrocities.”
Despite that, there is a reactionary theme in Joker, or at least reactionary for the modern era. As every “journalist” in Christendom pointed out, it portrays a white heterosexual man as the “forgotten man”, the tragic fallen figure. While the titular character of Joker is certainly shown to be villainous and unredeemable by the time the credits role, he is nonetheless sympathetic. His trusting and good nature are repaid with mockery and violence, and he is a victim of society (I had to say it once). There is also the unsympathetic portrayal of the news in the portrait of the talk show host and the violent attack on the white man at the beginning of the film by a group of young non-whites. But even if both of those were missing, it is the portrayal of a bad white man as sympathetic that is so jarring to the woke left. White men who get angry at their social situation are always in the wrong, ungrateful for all the privileges they have had historically, and just hate-filled demons. Or so the narrative goes. If the Joker was gay, non-white, or female; you can expect the same people hating it to do a complete 180 degrees.
As much as I liked the film and would recommend it, Joker doesn’t really have anything new in message beyond “this society sucks”. We get it. But is there a deeper, more important meaning? The trickster is a universal archetype, appearing in deities and mythic figures all over the globe. From Loki to Hermes and Pan to Leprechauns to Kitsune and Tanuki to Anansi to Raven of the Pacific Coast Indians, there is always the force of humour and chaos in mortal society. What about the face paint and crazy clothes? The entertainer has always had his place as well, with the street performers of ancient and medieval worlds and the jesters of courts throughout history. The modern clown has its origin in Western European and Mediterranean traditions of harlequins, with the first real circus clowns appearing in the 19th Century. They increasingly became a part of popular culture, especially in the United States, providing mirth and merriment but they also had a sinister side. One of the first “evil clowns” in popular culture was none other than the Joker himself, but the tradition goes back to Pagliacci and some other operas and short stories. Give yourself Stephen Spielberg’s novel IT and the 1980s killer clown scare (which is much creepier and weirder than the more recent 2016 trend), and you have yourself a fad. Clowns have become a modern symbol of both fear and joy, perfectly embodying the ancient trickster architect. They still provide humour to all and entertain children and others, but some of their laughter is cruel and mocking and with a sinister pitch.
I love clowns, both in the horror and traditional comic setting, and I was quite delighted this year to find that apparently the rest of the right shares that love. The Honkler meme appeared on 4Chan’s /pol/ in February 2019 and was quickly transformed into on the best versions of Pepe out there. The rainbow-coloured clown wig allowed right wingers to take back the rainbow, long the symbol of sodomy and leftist sexual mores, and transform it into our own symbol of irreverence. Honkler quickly became associated with the phrase “clown world” and the idea that in a world as crazy and unhinged as ours is becoming, the best thing to do is laugh. Like any popular right-wing meme, Honkler was eventually killed by overuse, but he remains popular in some circles.
The point of both Joker and Honkler is to point out how absurd our current cultural zeitgeist is. Vindictive mothers turn seven-year-old boys into girls while their fathers are imprisoned. Privileged upper-middle-class professors lecture working class American Joes on their personal responsibility for Leopold’s massacres in the Belgian Congo. Anarcho-Communists hold the same values as 90% of big liberal capitalist corporations. Eat bugs and sleep in a pod to save the planet bigot. It is all a great joke. What is the proper response to a joke? To laugh of course! We know about the mental and physical health benefits of laughter, a non-forced laugh feels better than almost anything in the world. Rather than impotent rage, the proper response to modernist lunacy is a good bellyful of giggles, before calmly planning how to thwart such heinous designs in the future. The right is at its best when it has a sense of humour. Who doesn’t have fond memories of the Great Meme War of 2016, when all of this was new and exciting? The “He Will Not Divide Us” fiasco? God bless 4Chan for that. Preceding Trump even, Gamergate won because it wasn’t afraid to be less than serious. We need to laugh boys; otherwise life would just be clenched fists and tears. Let us all have a mighty fine chuckle at the next absurd thing we find, as we try to push back against the devilry that has seized so much of our culture. And then maybe someday, we can all laugh together in an old oak tavern as we tell our friends what shenanigans our grandchildren have been up to.
FOR A NEW FASCISM IS THE SECOND FULL LENGTH DOCUMENTARY FILM BY RICHARD HEATHEN AND LIBERTY MACHINE NEWS
IF YOU ENJOY OUR CONTENT AND WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE. SIMPLY DONATE THE PRICE OF A PINT, CHEERS.