I think about a cartoon clown more than I’d like to admit. Its name is Honkler. A bastardised version of Pepe The Frog, images of Honkler now circulate in the type of online communities which incubated the New Zealand mosque shooter and other far-right extremists. Honkler is garish, and, well, clownish, and but his image denotes extreme nihilism: Right Wing Watch states Honkler is a trollish reaction to the progressive values the far-right sees as simultaneously damaging and ridiculous. To them, Honkler is representative of an irreparably beclowned world.
As my politics and personality have not been weaponised by bitterness and resentment, I can’t say I agree with the sentiment behind Honkler, but the clown motif has obvious resonance with disaffected boys and men in the 21st century. I see the final trailer for The Joker through that lens.
The Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the famous Batman antagonist, appears to be a sepia-drenched study in male inadequacy and the rage it can engender. There’s definitely space for film to interrogate that idea, but I wonder if a big-budget superhero flick is the place to do it – even if Phoenix’s filmography is littered with men coming to terms with their lot in life.
The Joker hits Aussie cinema screens on October 3. You can check out the trailer below: