Monthly Archives: October 2019

I Will Never Allow Myself to Feel Guilty for Picking up a Guitar

Friends,

I got a lot of shit on my plate.

So do we all I guess -well, at least those of us who are adults. Except I have been living in a state of deferred adulthood for some time and now having moved back to Canada and enrolled in school, etc. I am trying to reintegrate back into civil society, and its rather like a game of double-dutch. Granted its easier jumping into Canadian society than it was to jump in to German society -For one, the language is the same, but also I suppose I am more motivated to be here than I was to be there.

I don’t know, but look: I’ve gotten sidetracked.

In the midst of all this stuff to do, I have purchased a new guitar.

Nothing fancy, it is simply a workhorse electric which I can quietly play either unplugged or with headphones so as not to disturb my housemates. With school costs and initial move-in costs all adding up in my first month back, the wisdom of buying an axe might seem questionable but I know myself well enough to know that nothing is better for my psychological state than having something meaningful and productive to do with my hands.

So I bought it, and having now had it for two days I noticed slight pangs of guilt when I would pick it up and start looking up chord transpositions.

I should be doing something else” I would think to myself. “I should finish my tax return or look up new writing jobs or at the very least worry impotently about the future.”

Yesterday though, like a lightning bolt to my brain I realized that I was being self-defeating. This is exactly why I bought the guitar -that is, to assuage feelings of guilt about idleness when I felt overwhelmed by life. Playing over the last two years has brought me so much focus and clarity of purpose that I would be silly to abandon this pursuit thinking I had derived all benefit from it. I have only gotten better and I can intensify my skills now, fulfilling a promise made to myself to graduate from school in two years not only wealthier than when I went in, but also more skilled at performance and playing.

While it is true that I probably need to establish more of a schedule as classes approach, setting aside certain practice hours during the day, it is also true that I should trust my inclinations and not feel bad if I am strongly drawn toward creating something beautiful. The constant state of existential despair and worry has utility insofar as it motivates us to take action in life, but beyond a certain threshold it has the detrimental effect of robbing us (ME) of the joy of the moment.

So yesterday I told myself, “I will never feel guilty for picking up a guitar,” and I repeated it over and over again like a mantra; like it was some profound truth which I was happily arrived at after years of deliberation.

************

There’s so much joy and good I have deprived myself of in insidious ways throughout my life and I am only realizing that now: The joy of family, the joy of a social circle, the joy of hoping for my own family one day, and the joy of having coworkers. I have felt sub-consciously that I didn’t deserve these joys, even though outwardly I seemed happy and well-resigned to the romantic fate I had chosen for myself. Perhaps by allowing this one meaningful, joyful pursuit into my life guilt-free, I can help along the process of peeling away that internalized guilt which makes me stifle and stultify myself because I don’t feel I deserve better.

I don’t know -it’s all very speculative. But at least I can ponder it while practicing my scales.

Best,
-Dre

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Lying on the Couch

Written on 20 OCT 2019

Friends,

I’m lying on her couch.

She’s in the next room, her bedroom, lying in her bed.

Her bedroom is a private space -that’s what she told me the first day.

Our flirtations -nuzzling, hand-holding in the streets, cuddling on this couch- have grown bolder at deliberate, steady pace, but never in her room.

I like the slow, deliberate pace of things. The slow, deliberate way in which we are re-learning each other after years apart; the way we aren’t putting the cart of intimacy before the horse of connection. Violent delights of course have violent ends, and I don’t want to relive past mistakes which sprang from impetuousness and recklessness. I don’t think she does either.

No. This time I’m thinking more seriously. I sat with her today -all afternoon in fact because it was raining- while she watched her shows and fretted about how to arrange her living room for a party next week. I sat there, not quite sombre, but pensive, thinking to myself, “could I sit here with her every Sunday for the rest of my life?

Maybe. Maybe even probably.

But I’m cautious, at least I’m trying to be. I’m really looking at how I feel in the moment and seeing if the feelings that come to me are shaded by guilt for how I treated her in the past. I want to make sure that whatever I do is righteous in the moment, and not short-sightedly satisfying nostalgia for the warm, agape love she once showed me.

I kissed her today. I was really happy afterward. I was happy because she was happy of course, but I was also happy that I recognized the right time to do it: I was lying beside her on the living room floor and she was talking about something excitedly. Her eyes, always bright and wide as their default setting, were somehow brighter and wider, and the faded black accents on her off-white t-shirt seemed as bold and vibrant as the ebony keys on a piano against the ivory ones. It was a sign. I recognized it. I acted on it. It was perfection.

************************************

In the intervening years since I broke her heart she has learned to set boundaries; no men -no me– in her bed is but one. I respect it, I understand it. Still, it hurts my heart a little when, in the evenings, she has left our cuddling on the couch to go to her room. I have asked her to stay, but she has said no, and that’s honestly what I probably need from her.

Tonight though played out a little differently: anticipating the hurt of her leaving me here on the couch I didn’t get invested emotionally when she started making overtures toward going to bed. I pulled out my laptop and switched on Mad Men as she brushed her teeth and didn’t get up to say goodnight.

I laid there for a few minutes after she retired and then realized that this behaviour on my part was just the kind of passive-aggressive, ego-based game bordering on dishonesty that has gotten me into such bullshitty situations in the past.

I got up and knocked on her door. She said “come in” but I asked her to come out on account of her bedroom being a sacred space. I explained why I didn’t say goodnight to her (protecting my feelings) and how that wasn’t right, and for a moment I guess she thought I was asking to come in and invited me in. I declined reflexively because I was already in that headspace of letting her have her space, and re-explained that I wanted to say a proper goodnight. I hugged her and we shared another lovely kiss.

I couldn’t sleep after that and instead watched another episode of Mad Men.

Speaking of which: There’s a great episode of the show where Roger Sterling seduces his young ex-wife, Jane and they make love in the apartment he bought for her after their divorce. The next morning she is upset with him and crying because she had a place that was just hers and now it was contaminated by him- even though she wanted him in the moment.

I bore that scene in mind the last few days while here, and it was certainly in my mind when I closed my laptop and laid on the couch thinking how nice it would be to be curled up in bed with her. She had invited me in after all and there is a point in the evenings, in the darkness, where noone can see us breaking the rules we have set for ourselves.

But I haven’t been able to bring myself to knock on the door. That would be a critical dose of impetuousness at a time when substance needs greater exploration, as flash has been well-demonstrated.

So I’m lying here on the couch, being the strong one tonight because she can’t be. I want to go knock on the door in a short-term fulfilment kind of way, but I’m playing a longer game now, and I’m not yet convinced that me knocking on that door is the best long-term move. Put more superstitiously: I didn’t get signs and a flash of vibrant colours like I did just before I kissed her.

There might be something there that is righteous and well-intentioned, but right now -tonight- I couldn’t hear it over nostalgia for times past and the desire to no be alone.

There is a time to act and a time to observe. Now is the latter.

Best,
-Dre

 

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Gentrifying the Living Room

Friends,

I am settling into my new place. The other tenants are alrite, but they didn’t know each other coming in and so there was no organization or rules in place when I entered the mix. I don’t dislike any of them, but they all present a unique set of challenges:

There is Tanya, an Indian girl who is the first one who really opened up to me when she saw me taking the intiative and cleaning the bathroom. Her boyfriend, Mayank is over all the time and he’s cool and outgoing and friendly.

Although he did just try to sell me Amway!

Keith is a hilarious motherfucker. I heard him before I met him -sitting in his room playing League of Legends screaming FUCK!!. The walls are thin and so I took umbrage the first night and felt personally disrespected. After a certain point I went to knock on his door and he came out to greet me. I didn’t say anything about the cursing because I think it is important to say as little as possible.
Instead I introduced myself and asked him what he was up to. He told me LoL, and while I suspected that he suspected I was there to complain about the noise, neither of us addressed it and he eagerly invited me in to see the computer set-up he was quite proud of. He is skinny and young with long-hair and nothing at all like the abrasive, dominance-minded tyrant I had pictured in my head. I’ve subsequently run into him at the gym where he goes to climb. I think we’ll get along well.

Then there’s Deryk; big jock-type dude who is a sweetheart but whom I don’t think is acutely aware of how sound travels in this house. It’s ok we’re working through it, as will be seen.

Then there’s John; not a tenant but our resident guy on the couch.

He is Deryk’s buddy and I get it -I have been that guy for like, years. I wanna be clear, I have no problem with John. I like John. I love John, because I am John. He kind of took up the love-seat in our unfurnished living room for the last while before I moved in I guess, but the problem is/was that I got plans for this living room and in short order I cleaned the garbage and shoe rack out of it and mopped it. Then today I acquired a coffee table from the downstairs tenant, Tyler and as such reorganized the sofa. Now it’s a Living Room; I am literally sitting here with my feet up on my coffee table looking out my picture window.

Admittedly it needs some work.

I like spending time here now, and that brings me back to John. He walked in this evening with Deryk after coming back from the gym and had this look of disappointment in his eyes when he saw Mayank, Tanya and I sitting here enjoying the living room he had been sleeping in, I felt bad but I kind of anticipated this because I spent the evening on the couch last night and it occurred to me that he might have had to find other accommodations.

I don’t want to displace him, but the benefit of having this common space kind of outweighs the bad. For example, my room is right next to the bathroom and when people shower, the pipes in the wall next to my head as I lie on my bed are deafening. However, now that I have a couch to sit on and work from in the evening, I can be comfortable and in (relative) quiet while the roomies are going through their evening routine.

The best part of all this is I never told John to leave. And truthfully he is still welcome. If he wanted to go through the rigor of asking I would be happy to get my air mattress for him and set him up in the kitchen, but I think he wanted low-hanging fruit for a crash, and I get that behaviour because I have demonstrated that behaviour in the past.

Funnily enough, Deryk, whom I have felt some resentment toward for callous noise-making, and whom I expected to fight me on the gentrification of the living room his friend was squatting in, has been cool. When John got himself a ride to another friend’s place after seeing his favourite squat had been turned into a Starbucks, Deryk actually opened up and intiated a conversation with me -something he had never done before. I had spent the whole time thinking that by exploring the space I was asserting myself against Deryk’s unchecked expansion –and maybe I was– but perhaps I was also liberating him by obliquely saying “no” through more intentional, deliberate and purposeful occupation of the space.

Intentional, deliberate, purposeful occupation the space! That’s a big idea right there, and it occurred to me on many a dancefloor while vying for space. BIG EGO Andre used to take it personally when my space on the dancefloor was being encorached upon or someone bumped into me -like how dare someone dance in front of me or in my bubble?; little ego andre sees that the best way to occupy space is to OCCUPY SPACE, and if you can’t occupy it effectively that means you got too much. Period.

“Loiterers should be arrested!”
-Jay-Z

I’ve had some reservations about living here this past week as a result of adjustment pains, but *just knocked on wood* I feel as good as I’ve ever felt tonight. I feel like people are starting to see what I see as far as what is possible in this place and I am starting to see them and what they have to offer.

Best,
-Dre

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#ourblackpanther

Friends,

I just walked out of Joker and I am sitting in a Tim Hortons well after midnight compelled to write about all my feels. This will be a somewhat scattershot post but at the very least it will be organized by headings. Also, it is less of a review than a description of all the ways the film mapped onto my life and spoke to me. Thank-you in advance for your indulgence.

Prologue

I worked all day in the Sadlon building at Georgian College. I have been working on my computer from there a lot but today was Friday and by 5pm it was empty and I was feeling like I needed to do somewthing. The idea of watching a film came to mind. I have long wanted to go see Once Upon a Time in Ho9llywood, but I wasn’t sure if it was still playing so I didn’t bank on it it. At about 6pm I decided it was time to make some moves. I hadn’t eaten all day and so had to go to the plaza where both grocery store and and cinema are located. I stopped at home first to drop off gym clothes and extra gear, expecting to walk to said plaza for groceries and see what developed from there.
At the grocery store I ate meatballs (keto af) then proceeded to work on my computer at my editing job. My boss…he used to be my friend, then we got to know each other better. I don’t think he wants me to work for him anymore, but he is scared to have me terminated because he knows that his whole existence is a house of cards that will come crumbling down at the slightest disturbance, and putting my livelihood at risk will cause said slightest disturbance. He knows this even if it is unspoken. After living with him for two months in Berlin this past summer I have a better idea of just how precariously he is holding onto his job and how scared he is of having his true nature exposed to scrutiny. I am going through the motions, keeping him appeased, but ultimately being less responsive to his passive aggressive attempts to pass his own insecuritiues on to me through professional channels. His words are meaningless, and I no longer make the mistake of responding to them beyond the minimal requirement.

************************

I wokred until about 9:30 in the grocery store’s cafe debating whether I would buy some alcohol to enjoy during the movie, slated to start at 10:15 pm. I really struggled with the decision of whether to buy booze because I am trying to drink less. It’s not like I drink a lot now, but I know how slippery a slope it is.
Work got boring to me and I decided to leave and head to the liquor store to pick up a small bottle of gin.
Since I had my backpack with me and I expected the theatre staff to want to check it, I purchased a small bottle of beefeater which I could fit in the back pocket of my jeans. The cashier carded me. I’m 35. Felt good I guess.

Prologue Part 2

I went into the theatre and purchased my ticket but when I went to have my ticket validated, the ticket checker said that I couldn’t bring my backpack in with me. I said I could and he disagreed. I channeled my Karen and asked to speak with a manager. The manager strolled up and we argued. My position was that I didn’t trust them to be stewards of my Macbook and bag, and also that they wouldn’t take a woman’s purse, so why should they take my backpack?. Their position was that no backpacks was company (Cineplex) policy. We argued for a moment and then I said that I was going to go in and watch the film, and unless he was going top use violence to stop me, he had better call the cops.

“Fine, I’ll call the cops!” was his response.

Reinforce the point I was making

Well yeah….I just said that…

I sat in the theatre in a state of some anxiety. I was expecting popo to roll up any minute and escort me out. I didn’t dare crack the gin I had smuggled into the cinema in my back pocket (expecting a bag search) because an unopened bottle of booze doesn’t count as contraband in the Soviet Republic of Canuckistan. I figured this was a sign that I wasn’t meant to drink tonight; after all, if the cops approached me in the theatre I could state truthfully that:
-no refund had been offered
-noone had asked me to leave
-no official door policy had been put forward ensuring the safety of my property up to a certain dollar amount
As long as I stayed sober with an unopened bottle of booze in my back pocket, I had the legal high ground.

I breathed deeply and tried to relax even though I felt the dragnet encraoching upon me. Out the corner of my eye I saw the ticket-taker eventually enter the theatre during the pre-trailer commericals. He came up to my row. I kept my eyes to the screen. He paused for a moment and then walked up to me.

“Hey man, we were wondering if you would compromise by letting us have a look in your bag.”

Years ago, I would have taken the checking of my bag as an affront, but I guess the security state has become the norm even in my own psyche and so I enthusiastically agreed figuring it was preferable to an encounter with the cops and also wanting to smoothe things over. I showed him the interior of all the multitudinous pockets of my military-style backpack (the gin was in my back pants pocket) and, satisfied, he sat down next to me for a moment and admitted he thought that the bag rule was stupid but that they had had someone come in to see the movie with a weapon already. I sympathized with him, and kind of felt bad for being an obstinate dick. I sincerely wonder how Sister Rosa Parks felt after refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Even if we are in the moral right, it is a taxing ordeal standing up to other people, and we are wont to question the justness of our actions when we see the strain it puts on our fellows who are “just following the rules.”

And so it was, after the initial elation of getting away with standing up to the crooked Cineplex PTB, I felt a sense of foreboding that I was making wrong choices. Self-destructive choices which I would regret. I felt bad and I felt low and I felt dread about my choice to drink gin.

But then I smiled and thought that this was a perfect frame of mind with which to watch this film.

I cracked the gin as the light dimmed and the movie began.

The broken, Oedipal man

Arthur Fleck aka Joker is a pathetic man who lives with his mentally unwell mother. He loves his mother and she is not shown to be cruel to him (although cruelty is alluded to later in the film), but the sickenss of their relationship can be summarized in a scene where he is giving her a sponge-bath; she is naked in a tub and he is bathing her as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This is a sad state of affairs, and I would guess that it is the common state of affairs for incel men (living in their mother’s basement/mother is their best friend) taken to a visceral extreme.
Personally, I have worn many hats, and incel, Oedipal son has certainly been one. My relationship with my mother was violent and abusive most of my life, and then I was completely estranged from her from 17 onwards thanks to the efforts of a step-father who wanted out of his marriage as much as he wanted the best for the children he was raising. My mother was a tyrant and violently abusive, and my step-father, step-brother and I got her arrested and put up on multiple charges and removed from the household. Yet in spite of all the violence and intimidation I remember so well, she would balance it out with something even worse; a tendency to stunt my growth by crutching on me as a male ally in the household when she fought with step-father and smothering me with Oedipal, maternal affection. It’s complicated to explain because she was as critical as she was was encouraging, but throughout my childhood I was kept in an insular box and made to be useless and weak; and all the while I was criticized for my uselessness and weakness.
There is one story that sums up the sick nature of my mother’s affections aptly: About 5 years ago, things were going well between me and my mother. We were making inroads toward reconciliation and things were becoming normalized. I was spending many weekends at her house and it was all normal and fine. Like how it should be I suppose.
But then one night as she was going up to bed she gently suggested that if I wanted to I could come up to her room and into bed with her and snuggle.
Even thinking about it makes really uncomfortable. My mother never sexually abused me, but I realized at that moment the extent of the emotional abuse I had received, because at 30 years old with 15 yeasrs of estrangement between us, I had the perspective to see how wrong her smothering behaviour was.
I didn’t take her up on he offer.
In Joker, Arthur ends up smothering his bed-ridden mother to death with a pillow while she lays in a hospital bed.
Fitting? Perhaps.
Poetic? Possibly.
Relatable? Definitely.

Fixation on Black Women

There are four black women whom Arthur interacts with: a social worker, a therapist, a love interest and a stranger who reprimands him for “bothering” her son. Why the emphasis on black femininity? Well I can’t say for sure, but it resonated with me and so I’ll at least comment to that extent. I like black women. I am attracted to them. I don’t know why exactly but I suspect there are two reasons:
1) Assertion of white masculinity
2) Respect and reverence for primordial, divine femininity
I am trying to be more honest in my writing than I ever have been before but I’m not ready to talk about these things in greater depth right now. They need more thought. Hopefully the bluntness of how I stated these two ideas gives enough imagination fodder.

Searching for a Father 

A big theme throughout both the film and my life is the protagonist’s search for his father. He is led to believe that he is the illegitimate offspring of Thomas Wayne, but when he confronts Thomas Wayne he is rebuked and punched for his troubles. While my father never rejected me there are broad parallels between Arthur’s estrangement and my own.
There is a great scene where Arthur visits Wayne Manor and meets a young Bruce Wayne -his ostensible younger and legitimate brother. There is no malice here and he interacts jovially with the young boy until a butler (Alfred Pennyworth presumably) intercedes and tells Arthur to leave. Alfred, as the impediment between Arthur and his father; as the impediment betweeen Arthur and his little brother, was very reminiscent to me of my step-mother, Anita. It seems my whole life she has been keeping me from my father and I have long resented her for it.
Of course she wasn’t the only one keeping me from my father; before her it was my mother who chose to be unfaithful, then divorced, and then moved far away from my father so that I missed him my whole life.
My father, for his part is not perfect, having made, like Thomas Wayne, some stupid mistakes. There were times where when I was a teenager, living , much to my step-mother’s chagrin, at his house, and he would have to bend the truth to placate both me and Anita. I could loosely relate then when Arthur, being spurned by a pternity-denying Thomas Wayne, laughs, saying, “Why are you saying these lies?”
Ultimately there are further developments in the film which, rather than definitively answering the question of Arthur’s parentage, only obfuscate matters further, giving an unsettling Fight Club uncetainty vibe to the whole thing. Thomas Wayne’s eventual death then, at the hands of a clown-masked rioter encouraged by Arthur’s actions, pivotal though it is to young Bruce, sees Arthur simultaneously celebrating on the hood of a cop car in his brief moment of glory while crowds laud him after freeing him from police custody for the murder of Murray Franklin. The death of his possible biological father is shown to be meaningless as well as indirectly a result of his actions.

What of Murray Franklin?

Murray Franklin, a Gotham late-night talk show host, is significant because he represents an idealized surrogate father to Arthur and object of his delusions. Before Arthur even learns of of Thomas Wayne possibly being his father, he has reservations about the man. He has no such reservations about Murray Franklin, whom he fatasizes about meeting and being accepted as a son by.
Murray Franklin is portrayed by Robert DeNiro, and this is significant because the film draws inspiration from two of DeNiro’s earlier films, Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. These earlier portrayals of DeNiro give a sort of meta-believability to his status as surrogate father figure to Arthur. However, the idealized version of Murray Franklin which Arthur fantasizes about is a far cry from trhe real version who lampoons Arthur’s secretly recorded initial overtures toward stand-up stardom and only has him on his show due to fan outcry.
Franklin, like Thomas Wayne, has been an absentee father to Arthur. Perhaps even neglectful. Nonetheless, when Arthur exacts his vengenace on Murray, who at the time is scolding him on live television after Arthur’s revelation that he klilled three men on the subway, I felt it was simultaneously appropriate and overkill.
Murray Franklin and Thomas Wayne both die the same night by the hand of men in clown masks/paint. Chaos ensues/continues. Even though these men were both neglectful, mean and spiteful, there is still something tragic about their deaths. Their passing represents things becopming undone and unraveling. When the father dies, all is chaos.

The Three Men on the Subway

Arthur’s arc gets interesting when he shoots three drunk men on the subway. The men are harassing a young Asian women (significant?) and Arthur’s condition (uncontrollable laughter) flares up. The Asian girl makes her escape and the men (employees of Wayne Enterprises) frustratedly approach Arthur seeming almost amused, but ultimately they beat him down in a scene echoing his beat-down at the hands of (multi-racial) kids during the opening of the film. This time however, Arthur is both armed and being attacked by three white men in suits, so when he lets off with his .38, it is less Bernie Goetz and more OWS. In fact, this scene really made me wonder why the film was so controversially received; from a racial and economic perspective at least, Arthur kills all the right people.

Post-Kill Blues

My favourite scene in the film occurs after Arthur kills the three subway harassers. He runs to a park bathroom, locks himself inside and then….dances? This dance scene actually made it to one of the film’s posters:

I know what it looked like to me because I have done this same kind of dance after moments of accomplishment, during moments of excellence and even when I am really enjoying some food -it is the movement of someone experiencing a rush of serotinin and channeling -nay, savouring-it’s movement through his central nervous system. Arthur is allowing the divine energies to course through his body/kundalini and heal his sick self. We see him here in a moment of becoming, and if our vision could go beyond the visible spectrum, into the subtler, higher vibrational realms and observe his spiritual body, we would see Arthur spreading his wings for the first time. His movements, vaguely reminiscent of tai-chi, are the same movements I have made on many dance floors when my spine/kundalini/chakras are properly aligned and I am basking in the heavenly and earthly energies moving up and down through me.

 

Honk Honk!!

And Pepe brings me to perhaps my most cynical thought of all: Sometime in in 2019 I became aware of the #clownworld/#honkpill/#honkler meme; a derivative of Pepe with a more acute dedication to pointing out the hypocrisy and absurdity of the world and laughing at it. I was immediately enamoured of this meme and by the time I sat down to watch Joker, I was well primed to appreciate Arthur even more than I otherwise might have. And this made me think: “Oh no, have I simply been manipulated? Were honkler and clownworld simply dreamed up by marketing execs to obliquely promote the film months in advance of its release?”
I don’t know, but it is entirely within the realm of possibility that I have been duped. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that my own susceptibilities as a somewhat disgruntled man in his 30s, with problematic relations with his father and even worse relations with his mother, have been exploited. This bothered me somewhat, but in truth, not as much as I would like to think it would have. It was actually reassuring on some level to know that someone (or some marketing firm) could know me and speak so deeply to my condition. Like Winston getting interrogated and tortured at the end of 1984, I just want to be understood I suppose, even if it is in a clinical and dispassionate way. And I don’t think I am alone.

The Rock & Roll Easter Egg

At the begining of the film’s final act, Arthur gets dolled up in his final Joker ensemble for the first time, preparing to step out for the evening and be a guest Murray Franklin’s show. As he leaves his house, we see him dancing down a set of stairs, and while this scene was shown in the trailer, the music was different. In the film, Rock & Roll Part 2  by Gary Glitter plays. The young college kids I was in the theatre with probably missed the reference, but Gary Glitter was busted for among other things, child pronography. While Rock & Roll used to be played at every sporting event when I was growing up,and in every Mighty Ducks film, since the late 90s it has been effectively blackballed. To me then, including the song was a nice touch; a perfectly oblique and tasteful nod to the fact that marginalized men can be wont to take out their sexual frustration on children, and it was an acknowledgement made without directly demonizing Arthur in an unforgivable way by making him a pedophile.

And the scene was fucking awesome; I had a big grin on my face as he got suited up for a night of mayhem and danced his ass down the stairs.

Swag!

The Final Analysis

The backlash against the film that I have read seems mostly like posturing and so unworthy of calling out by name, but as someone who unashamedly relates to Arthur Fleck I will tell you what the film was to me –a cautionary tale. It gave me and others like me a glimpse of what happens when we allow ourselves to be made weaker by our mothers; what happens when we allow oursleves to be too invested in the opinions and acceptance of our fathers; what happens when we fetishize women; amd what happens when we allow our worst impulses and delusions run our lives. Sure, there may be a brief moment on top of a cop car, cheered on by rioters , where we are immortal, but that too will pass. The path of Arthur Fleck is not one to emulate, but it hits home nonetheless because there but for the grace of God goes me.
When I think of a hero in film, I think of someone who, in the most abstract sense, shows me the righteous path forward. A hero is someone to emulate.
What then of an anti-hero? Well, irrespective of whatever the accepted definition of an anti-hero is, it seems to me that it has been perverted into referring to, essentially, a grittier version of a hero, who is yetr still ultimately worthy of emulation.
I find this to be a shallow reading of what an anti-hero should be. For me, I rather take the literal approach: If a hero is a role model, an anti-hero is just the opposite; the aforementioned cautionary tale. We can understand and relate to him just as much as we can relate to his more traditionally heroic counterpart, but his behaviour is self-evidently degenerative and not to be emulated.

Some consider the Joker to be the greatest villain, but he’s not, because villains can’t be understood or related to. Heroes and anti-heroes can. That doesn’t make PunisherVenomSpawn, et al. anti-heroes though, because excessive violence notwithstanding, they still do the right thing.

Thanos? He’s a villain because we can’t understand him. It’s like, “Bitch! Just snap your fingers and double the resources!

Juggernaut? Great villain because its hard to empathize with someone who just wants to destroy everything.

But Joker? Someone that relatable, and who can furthermore incite a whole demographic, in real life and in the film, to rioting? That’s more than a villain; that a hero, even if an antithetical one.

Best,
-Dre

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