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Joker, a spoiler free review.

I know that everyone is endlessly reporting Impeachment news and we weighed in on it too here at GCN. We have an “impeachment is reasonable” moderate blue take, and an “impeachment is unreasonable” conservative red take. But I’m already sick of reading Ukrainian connected impeachment news and that story has only been around for a few weeks. So, instead - let’s talk about comic book movies! 

Joker. Directed by Todd Phillips. Screenplay by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver. Starring Joaquin Phoenix.  

According to some, mainly liberals, Joker is an incel friendly, dangerous film that humanizes the most infamous psychotic lunatic mass murderer in all comic book history. In fact, it’s so dangerous that, again - according to liberals - it will incite incels to armed violence everywhere! (Editor’s note. Incels are men who are “involuntarily celibate,” as in “women won't have sex with them but it’s not their fault that women don’t want to have sex with them - it’s society’s fault. And women’s fault, too. But not theirs at all.”) All over the country, for the realese of Joker, security was beefed up in preparation for the inevitable armed incel rise up!  

An excerpt from Stephanize Zacharek’s Joker review from Time:  

“In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week … And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love … the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior.”

Fair enough. I do agree that the character of Joker should not be presented as a heroic figure because … well, he’s not. He’s a lunatic mass murderer. The comics really attempt to clinically explain Joker’s behavior and, to be honest, they shouldn’t. He’s a comic book villain. And that’s one of the reasons I generally feel that some things do not cross over well from comic books to live action film. Being lonely, unloved and mentally ill does not realistically create an unkillable, ever escaping from prison comic book super villain. But in live action film, depending on the tone of your story being a ridiculously over the top super villain does not exactly make a realistic looking lonely, unloved, mentally ill human being. 

I mean, if you added up the comic book deaths caused by Joker it wouldn’t make sense that he would ever escape any kind of prison. After murdering hundreds of people, well, the fourth, or fifth, or sixth time he was captured, Joker would be over medicated into comatose form and locked away in a deep, dark hole - and no one would ever hear from him again

But, that’s not exactly drama. And comic books don’t need to live in the real world and they shouldn’t have to. The medium that comic books exist in allow Joker to escape over and over so Batman can heroically triumph or occasionally, tragically fail against the antagonist. That’s drama. 

And so now we have the new film, Joker. Which attempts to give reason to the “why” of the Joker's mass murdering madness. While I find the film compelling and Joaquin Phoenix is quite good in the lead role I keep going back to the “But, Joker isn’t a realistic super villain - he doesn’t need a realistic … ohh, never mind!” 

The tone of Joker is dead serious. Sure, the film perhaps pays a bit too much homage to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy (especially with that DeNiro casting) but, so what? General audiences would probably be shocked to realize how often film directors steal from each other. Paying homage to other film sources is not exactly the cinematic crime that cinephiles are pretending it is. It’s a film that drips with believable pathos and realistic character motivation but I’m not exactly sure I bought the societal folk hero angle as Gothamites embraced the crimes of Joker. I mean, IF something like that happened in a city it could very well be a realistic motivation for a Batman figure to rise up to fight that level of city wide injustice. But, as told in Joker, city folk rise up in riot for Joker I just didn’t find it very plausible. On the other hand, the Joker is a very unreliable narrator and much of the movie, especially the last fifteen minutes or so are wide open to multiple interpretations. My personal interpretation is clearly more accurate than most others, obviously.  =)   

BUT - I don’t really want to go into further detail about it because, spoilers. I guess I’ll just say that Joker is worth seeing; and lots of folks feel that way too as it broke box office records around the world.  It received an eight minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival where it won the top award even though critical opinion is mixed landing currently at 68% on Rottentomatoes.com. Joker is neither as dangerous or as dull as critics are portraying it. And, I guess I didn’t find it to be the masterpiece a few are claiming. 

As for the armed, violent incel revolt? Meh. Probably won’t happen. Don’t get me wrong. Some self absorbed lunatic somewhere might pick up a gun and go on a murder spree but, as we all know, they would have done it without Joker ever getting involved.  

And now, I will leave you with the greatest Batman / Joker knock-knock joke, maybe - ever. 

Joker: Knock knock. 

Batman: Who’s there. 

Joker: Not your parents.

Published in Entertainment

Our newsfeeds are bombarded with so many stories about excessive use of force within the police department that it’s almost shocking to read something about cops that is the exact opposite. Now, I know that the vast majority of good deeds cops do go unreported because they are not sensational stories. The headline, “Cop does something nice” does not sell much of anything. And so there is a silent majority of cops that do their jobs and get little to no fanfare. And much has been written about the more and more common tragedy of a law enforcement officer shooting an unarmed civilian. But that’s not what I’m here to do today. Today I went and found a “cops do something nice” story. And I’m going to tell you all about it.

 

Meet: Heroes, Cops and Kids. A community organization comprised of Dallas Police officers, teachers and other community leaders created to be positive role models for the community and its kids. From their website, “We strive to promote good behavior, good decision making and to teach coping mechanisms for peer pressure.”

 

Well, that sounds delightful. BUT -- the cynical side of my brain immediately thought, “I bet it’s kind of racist. I bet it’s a bunch of white cops that go into poor black neighborhoods and tell the kids to stay off crack.”

 

Right?

 

Hrrmmm. Not exactly. In a moment where I must remind myself that my paranoid lefty-liberal brain is not always correct. (I try not to say that out loud too often -- I have a reputation to protect as a liberal know it all!).

 

So, what does Heroes, Cops and Kids, do? Well, basically, they dress up as superheroes and visit terminally ill children. They also work with communities to build positive relationships between the police and the community. A portion of their mission statement from the Heroes, Cops and Kids website:

 

"...WE CATER TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES, CHRONIC ILLNESSES OR BEHAVIORAL DISORDERS TO ENRICH THEIR LIVES AND ENERGIZE THEIR HEARTS ...

 

WE ARE A CHARITABLE, TAX EXEMPT, 501(C)(3) ORGANIZATION. WE DON'T RECEIVE FUNDING FROM ANY STATE OR LOCAL AGENCY. WE SOLELY RELY ON VOLUNTEERS AND DONATIONS TO ACHIEVE OUR GOAL.

 

WE'LL BRING "THE STORM"  TO ANY BULLY THAT STEPS IN OUR WAY! WE SUPPORT THE ANTI-BULLY MOVEMENT AND TEACH PROPER RESPONSE AND REPORTING OF BULLIES!

THIS ORGANIZATION INCLUDES A DIVERSE BACKGROUND OF INDIVIDUALS WHOM HAVE DEDICATED THEIR TIME AND RESOURCES TO STOP BULLYING!”

 

Okay. I’m on board.

 

Meet Officer Damon Cole, founder of Heroes, Cops and Kids. Officer Cole has several hero costumes -- Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Ironman and he even owns a tricked out Superman Dodge Charger.

 




Cole’s Twitter account is littered with photos of his visits to children’s hospitals, some of which he flies to and some of which he drives a thousand miles to get there in time. All on his own dime. Of course, now, through his charity he can accept donations. And I hope it works because he has literally spent tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars costuming and tech'ing up -- his car, the costumes, his Batman costume alone has multiple gadgets and his War Machine costume has speakers that can blare music from within the armor. Which, apparently, the kids love.

 

 

In a fun, “life imitates art” moment, Cole, dressed as Batman for an off duty charity event, busted a man shoplifting DVD’s -- one of which was, “The Lego Batman Movie.

 

Inside Edition has a really cute one minute piece on the Batman / DVD shoplifting story.

 

Now, through his charity Cole can accept donations. He also has a team of volunteers that support, assist and costume up on their own. Reading about their organization, watching their videos and scrolling through their photos -- well, it even warms my dark liberal heart. I seriously love these people.

 

Heroes, Cops and Kids -- well done. 

 

Zoomin.TV has a short video on their organization.


To book an event with Heroes, Cops and Kids or to contact them for further information you can find them here.

 

Published in News & Information

For better or worse, Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) begins. In the morning of March 29th, 2017, the British representative to the EU handed in the UK’s separation papers to the President of the European Council in Brussels. You see, the institutions of the EU are headquartered in Brussels, a city now famous for three things: Belgian Beer, Mr. JCVD himself (the “Muscles from Brussels”) and the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the EU.  

Once such point of bureaucracy is Article 50 from the 2009 Lisbon Treaty which lays the groundwork for any EU member to, “withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements … shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.”  

Until now, no state within the EU has invoked Article 50. Greece debated the idea as recent recessions, three recent public healthcare meltdowns and bailouts that seem to have done Greece more bad than good. It seems reasonable the Greeks would want change, but they never actually invoked Article 50. (New York Times coverage Explaining Greece’s Debt Crisis).  

As for Brexit, England and Wales, they voted “yes.” Northern Ireland and Scotland voted “no:” Why not let England and Wales leave the EU and the other two countries remain? That seems fair. Not that fairness has much to do with the complex international treaties that govern the EU but, whatever. So, here we are, and now the United Kingdom has two years to negotiate its exit.

How Did Brexit Happen (and is Batman solving the problem)?

Through a series of unfortunate events, Brexit, it seems, plays out like a missing bizarro chapter of “Pride and Prejudice.” The “missing” chapter has everything: imperialism, a rise in populism, institutionalized racism, mismanagement of immigration,  welfare provisions and labor restrictions that keep immigrants out of the workforce and in poverty, ever changing demographics and yes, pride and prejudice. I have no doubt each of these and more played significant roles in the EU exit.

I also have no doubt that the immediate impact of the withdrawal will be felt first and foremost by the poor and the disenfranchised. A Scotsman recently turned me onto the plight of the Roma when he said, “... Roma families here rely on EU funding to assist their children getting proper support and education, as we are culturally so prone to isolating and pushing out Roma people they are often forced into poverty”. Precursory interneting shows me the Roma are a group of people so marginalized and maligned I am reminded of the sad history between the United States and the Native Americans.  

So then, who actually benefits from Brexit?  Well, if Brexit were a crime, Batman would be able to solve it by asking his two crime-solving questions:  

1) Who benefits from the crime?

2) Where does the money go?

Fair enough, Batman. Who does benefit? Where does the money go?  Abandoning the EU ends free trade between the UK and all other other members of the union. Do the words “abandon free trade” sound like they will lead you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? I’m pretty sure it’s easier to move money and products around Europe with, you know, free trade. In fact, it seems to be the only thing economists actually agree on. Will the UK benefit by abandoning open borders? Will it be more secure from terrorism? No. Terrorism is way more of a law enforcement issue than a border issue. Also, I’m no Batman, but I suspect an influx of immigrants fuels an economy and helps pay for public services.   

The enormity of the negotiation deal is way beyond the scope of one snotty American opinion. Obviously, some people will benefit, some people will not. Which people will fall into which category? And what will the ratio of benefited to not benefited be? Will Brexit do the most good for the most amount of people in the UK?  

I guess we’re about to find out.

Weren’t You Going to Explain How Brexit Happened (and is there any way we can get a cameo from Captain America)?

Yes! To the best of my Googling skills, Brexit happened, well, the same way these things always seem to happen -- bumbling politicians! You see, as a last ditch effort to save his political ass, former Prime Minister David Cameron proposed an independence referendum to -- I don’t know appease the rising populist movement?  Then, obviously, he turns right around and actively campaigns against it! Propose it. Campaign against it. Genius!  

How hard did he campaign against it? Imagine Captain America punching a Nazi in the f**king face (because Cap hits hard)! That’s how hard Cameron campaigned against the yes vote to Brexit.

Only Cameron’s plan didn’t work out so well. As we all know, due to the rise in populism, the “yes” vote to Brexit won by a narrow margin and former Prime Minister Cameron stepped down. In 2016, Theresa May became head of Her Majesty’s Government. May, despite having also campaigned for a “stay in the EU vote,” is now tasked with overseeing Brexit. In fact, May publicly warned voters, Brexit would damage the economy, harm security, erode the kindness of dogs, cause the sky to turn a sickly pink-green color and altogether obliterate the taste of strawberries. (I might have made some of those examples up).

Weather Brexit will destabilize the EU or become disastrous to the UK economy remains to be seen. As usual, when any huge political change is announced, the day the “yes” vote passed, the UK stock market took a hit but slowly climbed back up in following months. I believe the pound is still a bit down in value versus both the U.S. dollar and the Euro, making travel to the UK a tad less expensive, but predictions of economic crisis, recession, a huge rise in unemployment and the “Tasteless Strawberry Apocalypse” have not proven accurate. Yet.

The UK now enters unknown territory and pundits on both sides of the political spectrum, and all over the world, have wildly opposing utopia/dystopia predictions. I suspect Brexit results will land somewhere within the usual parameters of, “the poor suffer, the middle class pays for it all” and the wealthy “get some more tax breaks.” Business as usual.

Prime Minister May was correct about one thing, though. May predicted that a yes vote to Brexit would piss off the Scots and that they would vote for another independence referendum. If you recall, way back in 2014 AD, the Scots voted on an independence referendum to break from the UK. At the time, the Queen, the fine folks of England and a whole bunch of wealthy, elite, old, white Scots told the world, “This is a terrible idea! We’re stronger together!” The independence vote failed.  

Guess what? That next Scottish independence vote May feared?  Well, as of Tuesday, March 28, 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (of Scotland) won a Parliamentary vote for a new referendum. In fact, First Minister Sturgeon promised “endless independence campaigns.”

We all know what that means. England was the driving force behind Brexit and now believes that sometimes you must dissolve a partnership in order to move forward, which is why they will be completely sympathetic and understanding about Scottish independence this time around. England will cast off thousands of years of English imperialism and will cooperate fully with the Scots independence. England will, in no way, spend massive political capital and crushing amounts of money on a propaganda, smear campaign against Scottish independence. Finally, England will totally give up their entitled ownership over all that Scottish oil in the North Sea.  

I predict the new Scottish Independence Referendum will be a smooth-sailing, easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy walk in the park victory for the Scots. I mean, that’s all obvious to you too, right? Countries don’t control other countries just because of entitlement, imperialism and/or oil money!  

We’re all on the same page here, right?

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Published in World