Several reviewers have stated that this film is just one man’s descent into insanity; it is not. Joker is one man discovering that society has descended into insanity and it is pulling him down to join it.
Arthur Fleck’s status as a victim is not an excuse for the crimes he later commits, it is what makes him vulnerable to a society that does not care. Austerity leads to the demonising of people like Arthur and the nonsensical withdrawal of the help and benefits previously on offer. Sounds familiar to recent changes in our society to me.
The affluent are presumed to be the good, the poor and sick to be the opposite, ‘the clowns’ as Thomas Wayne describes them. The killing of the three ‘professional people’ on the subway is only ever represented as a tragedy for them and their families, no one stops to examine what drove the man with the gun to pull the trigger. It is a metaphor. The rich and successful stomping on the body of Arthur Fleck. It is his experience of life.
Arthur’s understanding of the real nature of society increases the further down he is pushed. Continuing the pretence of being normal is the real path to insanity. Normality is the reflection of everything that he sees, the reverse of what he presumed it to be. His hero, talk-show host Murray Franklin, plays at being the clean man of television, but he is just as quick to hurt and use people like Arthur. His show is a product of the hypocrisy of a society that claims values that it has no intention of living up to, compassion, inclusion, understanding, help, protection, and support. It is a lie, just like his own life turned out to be a lie.
The man who has nothing left to lose is the most dangerous. Society puts Arthur in that position one step at a time. They sow the wind and the Joker is the whirlwind that they reap.