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Counter-Violence in Todd Phillips’ Joker: Inventing Emancipatory Family through Dismantling Neoliberalism

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2020, 33(3), pp.5-39
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : November 30, 2020
  • Accepted : December 14, 2020
  • Published : December 31, 2020

Kang, Hyeong-min 1

1건국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Todd Phillips’ Joker dramatizes how neoliberalism imposes the oppression, exploitation, inequality and polarization on individuals and society through a symbolic family relations. In the film, two symbolic father figures—Thomas Wayne and Murray Franklin—represent the politico-economic establishment and the cultural establishment of neoliberalist system respectively. As the members of the ruling and privileged class of neoliberalism, these father figures do not pay attention to the dire hardship of the protagonist, Arthur Fleck, who represents the poor working class. Rather, they not just blatantly consolidate their power and privilege but also make fun of the wretched class in neoliberalism. In addition, the protagonist’s mother, Penny Fleck, also persecutes the protagonist not just by her irresponsibility as a mother but by her political ignorance. Under these abject circumstances, the protagonist comes to an understanding that he can find a way to resist against the established order of neoliberalism through the use of violence. At first, he uses violence to save himself from the imminent violent threat. However, through the use of violence, he can find his independence and manhood for the first time. At last, by killing the oppressive figures—two symbolic fathers and his mother—he emerges as the symbolic figure of resistance against the exploitation and oppression of neoliberalism. And through his violent resistance, the protagonist creates and unites the emancipatory family of the wretched people of the society against neoliberalism. Finally, the film suggests that only the continuous resistance against neoliberalism can stop the neoliberalist oppression and exploitation and ultimately drive people to find an alternative for survival and coexistence beyond neoliberalism.

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