The ‘Joker’ Best Picture Nomination Has Sparked Some Intensely Divided Reactions

Todd Philips’ “Joker” garnered a total of 11 Academy Award nominations this week, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. Though fans have expressed delight over the accolades, some in the media have either argued that the film’s presence during awards season further advances the narrative of white male dominance or that the makers of “Joker” manipulated their way into the top slot by painting themselves as victims.
Over at BuzzFeed, Scaachi Koul argued that “Joker” getting nominated is especially insulting in light of the fact that women and people of color were underrepresented this year. She further argues that the makers of “Joker” invented a victimhood narrative surrounding the film’s success by acting as if the world was out to sabotage the film:
There are other movies and actors taking up this space, but it’s more infuriating for Joker to do so, since it’s a movie that posits that women — black women particularly — are holding white men back. Look, The Irishman bored the sh** out of me, but it’s not a movie that suggests that maybe if women weren’t so f***ing rude when some dude just wants them to love him, he wouldn’t have to go on a killing spree, oooo-kay???
Joker’s commercial success — and now, its critical success — makes the filmmakers’ self-victimization even more absurd. What have Phillips and Phoenix been complaining about this whole time? Their movie has made hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars. They’re both nominated for Oscars after being nominated for Golden Globes. Like Arthur, they’re both operating in a version of the world that doesn’t exist: one where they don’t get what they think they deserve, when, in fact, they’re doing just fine. The makers of Joker aren’t responsible for the lack of nominations for women and people of color. They’re not the reason why the movie business is so reluctant to include anyone other than white men. But their response to any criticism at all — defensive, childish, prickly, even when things are going their way — is telling. Even when they win, they’re worried it won’t last. 
A similar sentiment was echoed by Stephanie Zacharek over at TIME, who said that “Joker” successfully painted its rise as some kind of underdog story that wasn’t.
That’s not to say that a movie adapted from a comic book can never be a work of artistry. Black Panther, also a crowd pleaser and the only other comic book adaptation to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, was a beautifully made picture with a generous spirit. But even if its many supporters were passionate, the discourse around it never reached the level of acidic aggressiveness that’s been swirling around Joker since its release. Everyone wants to be the put-upon underdog, and both Joker and the success of Joker play to that self-centered impulse. In a recent interview in the Paris Review, Anna Wiener — author of the newly published memoir Uncanny Valley — said, “I think people are incredibly reluctant to surrender that underdog identity, regardless of how true it was, then or now.”
Some responses to the film’s success have strictly focused on its quality, such as Dan Kois of Slate, who flatly said that “Joker” is just “dumb” and earned the accolades by feigning grittiness without much else to say:
Joker poses as a movie interested in exploring the anomie and alienation of contemporary manhood, the rage of the underclass, the fragile equilibrium of our cities. Joker is not actually interested in any of those things. It is interested in shocks and thrills, in valorizing its antihero’s put-upon haplessness, in exploiting potent and crucial protest messages for the lulz.
This, in the end, is what I find stupidest of all about Joker: how convinced the movie seems that it’s daring, that it’s showing us something we’ve never seen before. 
Kyle Turner of The Washington Post hailed the film as a mediocrity that captured Hollywood’s impulse to appear in line with the cultural zeitgeist. Erik Kain of Forbes, however, argued that those upset by the film’s 11 Oscar nominations have missed the overall point that “Joker” is indeed a solid film, even if some people cannot quite figure out its themes.
The ‘Joker’ Best Picture Nomination Has Sparked Some Intensely Divided Reactions The ‘Joker’ Best Picture Nomination Has Sparked Some Intensely Divided Reactions Reviewed by CUZZ BLUE on January 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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