Not Watching Joker

Last night — and I mean this is a month or two ago at this point — I got an email.

Oh, the algorithm has opinions, let’s go see.


I haven’t watched Joker. I don’t intend to watch Joker and a big part of why I don’t want to watch Joker is boredom. It’s a twofold problem: one, Joker looks really boring; it’s very clearly promoted itself as a generic villain-protagonist unreliable narrator movie built around a Difficult Man who is also Mentally Ill and it seems it’s just something I’ve seen before and I don’t imagine there’s any way this movie, no matter how well made or how well written, is going to make that idea interesting.

The novelty of the premise seems to be ‘hey, what if we treat this comic book character as if he’s not a comic book character, and instead put him in a gritty, grungy story where the fantasy of the costumed villain is at odds with the grungy reality he’s in.’ That may sound novel if you’ve never really paid attention to things the Joker’s been used for, but that’s a thing they do with the Joker about once every seven years or so. It isn’t like I’m going to see this as an idea I’ve never seen before when it’s easily the fourth time I’ve seen it.

The movie itself looks boring, then. It is something I’ve seen before and it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything new with it.

That’s half of why it’s boring, though.

Because the other half is what does watching Joker get me?

I am ultimately a bit of a weirdo. I like talking about media and thinking about media and engaging with other people about media. Any given piece of media isn’t just the experience of watching it, but it’s also the experience of sharing it, of partaking in it. Don’t get me wrong, I have stuff I watch, because I want to, and then nobody ever knows about it, because who would care, or I just found the time I spent watching it interesting enough.

Sometimes, though, there are conversations — public conversations, shared conversations, conversations with other people, ways to connect to other people — that involve media participation. If I watch Joker, I get to open up a conversation with strangers and friends about the movie Joker.

And that conversation has been going on for a few years now…

and it’s a really boring conversation.

It’s boring in no small part because there are people who watched this movie and weren’t bored by it, and then they made it part of their identity. There is a subculture of people who are absolutely racist and misogynistic shitheads, who make Joker conversations a figleaf for the things they really want to talk about. There are people adjacent to them who like the movie, but don’t take the threat those other people represent seriously. There are people who are genuinely and honestly enchanted with the movie who don’t have any idea those people exist, and think that talking about them like they do is a conspiracy theory.

Then contrary to that position there are people who like or dislike this movie for reasons unrelated to who they hate or are okay with hating, and that conversation is smaller, and is always done in strange whispers for fear of eliciting a response from the dickhead squadron. Which means, watching this movie would, at best, give me access to a small community of people quietly mumbling to one another about a movie that looks really boring with the bonus threat that just maybe you’ll wake up to a fistful of poo in your inbox.

I can’t imagine wanting to be part of that conversation.

I can’t imagine finding this movie interesting.

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