BY MILO YIANNOPOULOS
Joker is a masterpiece. But even more remarkable than its stylistic brilliance and moral seriousness is the triviality with which it has been approached by the liberal establishment. I have read a few dozen reviews of Joker by now. Not a single one is written as intelligently as the movie is, which is the opposite of how film coverage normally goes. At most publications, reviewing Joker has been farmed out to the junior women on staff. Perhaps the men are too overawed and incapacitated by it, like the rest of us, to dissemble.
More likely, their editors are up to something. I’ve been watching verified imbeciles sperg out about it for weeks. It hasn’t been an ordinary kind of sperg-out. When they hate something, but are not afraid of it, they go to war: You see op-eds, tweet storms, endless invective. But when our social justice overlords are truly, madly, uncontrollably terrified by something, they pretend to be bored by it. They affect indifference. Except, they do it in perfect unison—which is how you can tell it’s a lie.
Like masculinity itself, Joker is equal parts beautiful and terrifying. It is a warning about the consequences of a godless world of runaway capitalism and easy mood fixes. It is a movie about a society that has become corrupt and degenerate and turned in on itself, saturated with sex, pornography and prescription drugs. Young men have become completely dissociated from their own lives, and from any sense of worth. It is a society that many of us would recognize.
The movie is about a man, and it is also about all of us. Arthur Fleck is middle-aged. He belongs to Generation X, cast adrift after the Boomers destroyed the family. But, the way the film is presented, he is no man and every man. Like Generation X, which hated the Boomers for looming so large while destroying the culture, Generation Z—or Generation Joker—is learning to hate millennials, for good reason.
We are reeling from a disaster still unfolding: the unmaking of reality at the hands of millennial progressivism, which has shredded common-sense truths about gender and even dissolved national borders. This is how Fleck, ageing and single in the 1980s, can speak to disorientated 19-year-olds today, who similarly see no economic or romantic prospects for themselves.
Male disaffection is now multi-generational, and multi-ethnic. Young and old alike are lost. This is not limited to the involuntarily celibate. I, too, am lost. You, reading this, are most likely lost. And in the past few years, enabled by a video game consumer revolt I am satisfied to have thrust into the mainstream and a President I am delighted to have helped into office, we have finally identified who is responsible for our malaise and cultural poverty. The whole damn fucking lot of them. We are ready to do something about it.
Symbologists will tell you that clowns point to the sacred, as fools and jesters point to the truth—obliquely, but with great force. Arthur Fleck is what happens when the disaffected male fails to find that higher calling and instead wallows in the destructive power of manhood, wrenching apart institutions and power structures for the sheer hell of it. But this is the future our rulers chose, by elevating the destructive forces of gender and race studies at the expense of beauty and truth. Joker is set at the exact time in history that these parasitic disciplines were taking over the academy and the sexual degeneracy of Foucault become normative for educated elites.
This is a film about a young man who is driven by the rampant, illegitimate cruelty around him to do appalling things. The message, the moral of the story, is that Joker is what is going to happen to us soon, unless these dissociated and disaffected young males find something better to believe in. This is our future, unless society starts treating them—treating us—with the respect and dignity we deserve.
In every outdoor shot, Arthur Fleck is surrounded by the signs of decadent late capitalism. This is a failed nostalgia because although the film is set some forty years ago, it could just as well be playing out today. Pornography and drugs flood the streets, and there are signs everywhere telling Fleck—and the viewer—to grin and bear it, to “put on a happy face.” We’ve been told that for some time now, haven’t we? We’ve been told to turn a blind eye to the excesses of modern feminism, because, well, ladies had it pretty rough back in the day guys, didn’t they? We’ve been told to go easy on race-baiting conspiracy theorists because, you know, you’re white and so you’ve inherited all that privilege, my guy! After all, aren’t we the aggressors—the historical oppressors of just about everyone else?
This nonsense, this desperate plea for pity in the face of historical reality, is wearing pretty fucking thin in 2019. While we are being bamboozled, society has become hostile to its own engines of progress and creation, alienating and spurning Christians, men, heterosexuals and, yes, white people. The after-effects of this terrible neglect are setting in, and the young men I know are searching for a means to sublimate their rage and pain. And they want someone—anyone—to say: You are right to be furious. At last, mirabile dictu, somebody has. Unfortunately, that person is serial killer Arthur Fleck.
The Joker universe, and Fleck’s fatherlessness, is a product of the divorce culture that emerged in America in the 1960s and ’70s and which was just starting to bite in the decade in which the movie is set. Arthur Fleck is lost because he is fatherless, because his absent father is a bastard, and because the man he imagines might love him as a father turns out to be heartless and abusive. Generation Joker suffers from a desperate lack of male role models too, because the men around them have been so grotesquely feminized, which is why they embrace comic book superheroes and avuncular but hopelessly muddled characters like Jordan Peterson.
Mrs. Fleck, a single parent, has spent most of the film in a bed with the Virgin Mary hanging prominently above her head—an image all the more charged given that director Todd Phillips is Jewish. This is merely the most obvious of the film’s religious gameplay. If you know anything about theology, you’ll recognize what’s going on in the very last scene of this film, in which Fleck walks out of an interview room, having killed his bitch therapist, leaving bloody footprints on the floor of the asylum. He is on his way to becoming a supervillain, having inadvertently created Batman.
This walk, the walk of bloody footprints, is one of the arma Christi—it is the walk to the cross, Fleck’s walk into Christhood and Godhead. It is the narrative culmination of dozens of interwoven threads that precede it, most obviously Fleck’s act of supreme mercy, when he kills his mother to spare her from all that is to come.
Fleck’s walk is such a vivid image in a movie that subverts and offends all Christian imagery that it cannot be taken seriously. And yet, it points, almost in spite of itself, to the very religious culture that secular modernity has dismantled for the sake of “liberation.” Are the footprints exultation or ridicule? Everywhere in Joker you see and hear mockeries of the holy order: It’s one big disorientating spin on the divine comedy of Christianity. Fleck’s laughter, normally a sign of joy, is never infectious, never jubilant. Joker asks us to identify what’s missing from this broken world, and it points us to the answer, even as it mocks it: God.
Arthur Fleck is a murderer, so he cannot be a savior, but he is the only hero the movie offers—the only one possible in a joyless, Christless culture. Joker speaks to young men of every political persuasion and sexual orientation. Yet it does so in a language they don’t even speak any more: the language of Christ. And it does so in contradictory layers of irony and sarcasm that will be deeply familiar to anyone immersed in contemporary internet culture. In particular, it feels like home to Generation Z.
Unlike just about everyone else I know, I am thrilled at the rise of Generation Z. Against everything the pollsters and experts will tell you, I think the West is primed for a religious revival. And, as I’ve been saying for past year, I think it’s Generation Z who will lead it. I’ve noticed young people getting curious about the origins of Western civilization. Many of them have been seduced by an easy narrative that answers many of the questions they have but leaves them forlorn and without a positive direction in which to fight: Race, which fails comprehensively to explain the transcendent glories and ineffable mysteries of Western painting, literature, philosophy and society when set against Christianity, the true internal cause of all our culture and artistic achievement.
What a delight, what sweet joy to see one of the highest art forms, cinema, actually reach for those complexities and profundities that make great creative accomplishments so endlessly satisfying—and how refreshing it is after a decade of two-dimensional comic book retellings and soulless pyrotechnics from Michael Bay. Joker is that rare thing: A work of art that rewards further study, whose mysteries deepen the more you experience and think about it. It is a tragedy about a comedy—a burlesque inversion of the life of Christ that subverts itself as it reaches for the highest things.
Several young men have told me that they loved Joker, and instinctively understood it as a work of substance, but they couldn’t articulate precisely why or explain much further what they took away from it. Of course, there’s no way young men can know the origins of the things they love, since God has been so comprehensively wiped from the curriculum, from pop culture and from public life. Successive generations of conservative authors, activists and intellectuals failed utterly to defend the legacy and accomplishments of Christianity.
Consequently, no one under 30 has any idea about the belief system that underpins the entire Western edifice or about the themes and personalities that ripple through great art. They can make out commingling echoes but cannot identify the originating sounds. The progressive Left’s reductionist attack on straight white males has produced a weak counterinsurgency focused on skin color at the expense of history and theology.
You can see, in some of the iconography that young right-wingers have adopted, at least a vague appreciation for medieval Christianity, even if only at the level of slogans such as, “Reclaim Constantinople.” (I bear responsibility for the popularity of that phrase, I admit.) Panicky Medieval Studies professors will try to persuade you that the appearance of Celtic crosses and Crusader iconography on and offline is evidence of an outbreak of white supremacy.
But the great Trump-era white supremacy panic is just that—a moral panic, an expression of modern mythology of the type elites are especially vulnerable to. Really, boys are simply rediscovering the sort of role model that Robert Baden-Powell presented to young Boy Scouts as virtuous examples of heroic masculinity: enlightened Crusader knights defending Christendom from the evils of Islam.
When it comes to Gen Z, it’s not all good news, I’m afraid. They’re pretty gay, for a start. Only two-thirds of 16- to 22-year-olds say they’re exclusively attracted to the opposite sex, with most offering up some vague, muddy description of their sexual desires. This is the cost of decades of liberal brainwashing: an entire generation of deeply confused young people who have no idea how to be happy or, worse, how to love properly. They are also, as a generation, intensely relaxed about immigration.
Buried in data from the relatively few surveys so far conducted of their age group, you find that Gen Z are deeply skeptical of Islam. They care about their education, and they’re worried about how they will pay for it. But they’re more optimistic overall than the Boomers and their pathologically miserable millennial antecedents. Generation Joker has seen cat ladies in moldy cardigans chase Likes on Instagram and indulge in narcissistic and self-destructively adolescent behavior, loading themselves up on anti-depressants to make up for their lack of meaningful real-world interactions. They are not impressed.
When Generation Z survey respondents were asked what would make them happiest in life, the majority said it would be having a job that they love, followed by having a family with children. When they were asked what thing they already have in their current lives is the most important to them, 44 per cent said it was their families. What’s more, active animus against religion is softening from a peak under the millennials. Fewer young people believe Christians are hypocrites, fewer are preoccupied with the problem of evil and fewer of them see science and religion as incompatible, compared to their parents. This younger generation has strong family values, an optimistic outlook and a big imagination. All the churches have to do is make sure these kids don’t end up witches, voodoo practitioners, astrologers or reiki healers, by showing them the positive benefits of faith.
The single biggest factor in determining whether someone will be content with his life is whether he regularly participates in public worship. This concords perfectly with Gen Z’s preference for the public and the communal over the private. They only need to be shown the via and the veritas. Without the help of schools, churches or government, some young men are feeling for their own solutions, occasionally with success, such as the Proud Boys fraternal order, which I like to think of as St. Augustine’s sermo humilis rendered in flesh. But while explicitly non-racist, in general the group and its members do not prioritize faith over capitalism or free expression, which leaves space for a Christian brotherhood that can deliver on a religious revival that is the only plausible path to victory over the progressive Left.
One critical task for the rest of us is the cleansing of our religious institutions, so they are ready for the keen critical eyes of this new generation. All that today’s Left-wing churches have to say about masculinity is that it is bad, it hurts women, men are properly the objects of fear, ridicule, and scorn, wherever possible male “toxicity” should be monitored, and boisterousness and overzealousness—critical components of healthy manhood—should be viciously punished. Spiritual fatherhood, the deepest masculinity, is the only way out of Christianity’s current crisis. Sometimes that is going to mean being angry. It is right and proper to hate the hateful; visceral outrage is the only proper moral response to drag queen story time.
The real danger to our society is not a lack of virtue. It’s a lack of heroism, and a lack of understanding among younger generations about objective truth and beauty. There is a generation of young men blooming into adulthood without proper intellectual moorings, who could be molded into soldiers of Christ, filled with that glad and angry faith by the right spiritual leader. They will not be satisfied by bromides from pill-popping self-help gurus; to save the West, we have to bring these men back to the Church.
Remove God from the conversation and you don’t magically gift society with a public square that operates on elevated Enlightenment principles of reason, logic and nice manners. All you do is make room for evil to take His place, whether race war, gender animosity, obsessions with gay and transgender rights, or bizarre preoccupations with the civil rights of illegal immigrants. This is the danger of an irreligious Right: Without God, energized young conservative activists are seduced by the progressive Left into seeing the world in terms of race instead. And from racial tribalism, so, inexorably, follows war.
I have never been drawn to political violence. I have spent my entire career denouncing it. Horrible things will happen to America if the Boogaloo comes and we take up arms against one another. But which of us has not felt at some time or another as though the world has been architected against us in ways that are impossible to overcome? Who doesn’t find the modern world barren and vindictive and cruel? Who among us has not fantasized about shooting Robert DeNiro in the face?
Because I am a homosexual, I have been lying about my age for more than a decade. But while I am not literally a member of Generation Joker, I am more in tune with them than I am my own, morally decrepit millennial peers. That’s how I know Fleck isn’t really mentally ill. There’s a reason for his forced gaiety. There’s a reason he needs, or at least seeks, the drugs. It’s because he sees what no one else around him sees. He seems crazy to the administrative state and the entertainment industry and wider Gotham. But, in truth, he’s the only one who can see through the saturation of pornography and pharma-driven cultural stupor and the lies he is being fed.
When Berkeley was burning in February 2017, I felt a dose of the exhilaration Fleck bathes in atop a cop car in the final minutes of the movie. I know you’ve felt it too. It’s a feeling of pain and helplessness dissolving into something like renewal and hope. It is despair becoming joy; the promise of a brighter future erupting from the ashes of our diseased past. I hope, perhaps in vain, that this young generation can be saved from its burgeoning obsession with race and weaned onto something that offers true salvation. These motherfuckers need Jesus. Because there isn’t just one Arthur Fleck any more. We are all Arthur Fleck. We are all Joker. And we have had enough of the bullshit.
Milo Yiannopoulos is a New York Times-bestselling author and award-winning journalist. His weekly late-night extravaganza of righteous indignation and casual cruelty, Friday Night’s All Right, airs Fridays 8/7c on freespeech.tv.