Why Joker Is the Zeitgeist Movie of the Year

The film sheds light on mental health, politics, and global inequality.

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Vincenzo Pinto/ Getty Images
Vincenzo Pinto/ Getty Images

In the most recent Zeitguide CULTURE CLASS, during the “Consumer & Media” portion, I discussed my point of view on why JOKER is the Zeitgeist movie of the year, and perhaps one reason why it leads the 2020 Oscar nominations with 11.

Of course, Joaquin’s performance and the story direction contribute to the film resonating with the public as the highest-grossing rated R film to ever!

But, as you know, I also believe that pop culture hits are the result of a successful tapping into the zeitgeist and collective consciousness and thus, resonance and relevance to a global audience. 

Let’s break down JOKER in terms of the issues of the day the film reflect, and where we are right now in terms of their problematic nature.

Mental Illness:
“One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, according to the World Health Organization.” 

Gun control:
“The Gun Violence Archive, a nonprofit organization that tracks gun incidents, estimates there have been 10,018 deaths and 20,061 injuries from gun violence in 2019. Those figures do not include suicides by firearms that claim about 23,000 lives each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Bullying:
We’ve been seeing higher incidents of cyberbullying, but did you know that 1 in 3 youth admits to being bullied according to The American Society of the Positive Care for Children?

Protests:
The Joker’s acts were the impetus of protests around Gotham City. As I’ve explored in the panel I moderated at the Business of Fashion Voices Gathering and as we wrote about in our 2020 Zeitguide CULTURAL ALMANAC, protests all around the world are happening whether it’s about Climate Change, increased taxes on oil, political corruption or inequality.

Inequality was a major theme in the JOKER and continues to be one of the issues of our day.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, watching the movie  brought up many of the emotions I get when I read, think, or teach my Culture Class on how these issues are evolving and getting worse by day.

That’s the power of movies:

On one hand, they can help you escape as the Busby Berekely movies did in the 30s during the depression, fascism and a time leading up to World War 2.

Today, it seems that movies are accentuating the societal problems we need to solve.

Come join my CULTURE CLASS and…

Keep Learning. Stay Relevant. Be Curious.

Originally published on The Sunday Zeitguide.

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