"Joker" potentially allows men who identify with Arthur Fleck's descent into violent criminality to find not only acceptance, but also celebration, empathy, and vindication—and that is both irresponsible and dangerous. This essay contains spoilers for "Joker" "Among many mass killers, the triple
Logan Paul’s racist actions have a context and also a history.Last week, a white man named Logan Paul traveled to Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), a sacred forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan where many Japanese people have historically died by suicide. There, he (surprise!) discovered the corpse of a Japanese suicide victim hanging from a tree, and proceeded to visually record and upload this experience to his public YouTube page. Paul made sure to provide personal commentary on his video as well: this commentary, in addition to making racial slurs about the victim, openly mocked his dead body and made tasteless jokes about the act of suicide. In the days of internet backlash that followed this event, it was subsequently discovered that Paul was in fact a minor YouTube celebrity with a long track record of making racist videos and commentary, especially about Japanese and East Asian people more broadly. In a series of earlier videos, Paul is shown shouting and making a commotion at a quiet temple where Japanese people are praying, throwing coins at them and making a mockery of their spiritual rituals. The image of him laughing at the corpse of a dead Japanese person was thus a clear extension of his general view of Japan: a country populated by sub-humans who mainly exist for his own entertainment. Logan Paul’s racist actions have a context and also a history. The image of a white man laughing at the corpse of a dead Japanese person reminded me of this famous photograph, taken sometime during the latter years of World War II, which depicts a white American soldier grinning at the skull of a “Jap” he had evidently murdered, and inserting a cigarette into the skull’s mouth for humorous effect. It also reminded me of how, during the same war, white American soldiers would frequently send the bones and bodily remains of Japanese soldiers they had killed back home to their wives and families as trophies of their conquest. There is a famous image of this phenomenon that was once featured on the cover of Life magazine, depicting a white woman sitting pensively at her desk, pen in hand, presumably writing a letter to her white soldier husband fighting in Japan, as she contemplates a “Jap” skull he had evidently sent her as a memento and token of his love for her, and of his country. She gazes at the skull fondly, lost in thought. Logan Paul didn’t kill the man whose dead body he filmed and circulated on YouTube, and the United States is no longer at war with Japan. But that Japanese man’s body played a similar role for Paul as the Japanese skull did for that white soldier all those years ago. It became a souvenir, a trophy, a memento. And, in the age of the internet, it became the electronic equivalent of a trophy: a meme. In his moment of triumph, Logan Paul had marched like a brave soldier into the deep, dark mysteries of the Orient and emerged victoriously with his prize, not to disappoint his loyal YouTube followers. And a corpse is what he was sending home as proof of his victory. Of course, Japanese people aren’t the only people of color that white people have terrorized in this way. Similar examples of white people defaming the bodies of deceased people of color by parading around with their remains for the purposes of entertainment can be found in almost any chapter of American history.
Don’t pity Tommy Wiseau for not getting a word in at the Golden Globes, both him and Franco are celebrated for nothing more than being overconfident assholes.By Nicole Froio Once you’re awake, you can’t ever truly enjoy a movie again. That’s the conclusion I got to watching James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist”, a comedy about the production of the worst film ever made turned cult classic “The Room”. Franco, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical and Comedy, set out to tell the bizarre story of Tommy Wiseau, a quirky-looking, strange-acting man whose dream was to be a Hollywood actor, and his quest to write and film his ‘masterpiece’. However, given the continuous revelations of sexual assault and harassment in the last four months and the practices of abuse of power that seem to be pervasive in Hollywood, Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” shows how white male privilege is uplifted in society—even if the ‘artist’ in question is essentially a failure. The fact that Franco’s movie is billed as a comedy shows how he thinks white male privilege and the abuse that often comes with it is a huge joke. Franco himself was caught trying to pick up a minor in 2014, and is now being accused of taking advantage of actress Sarah Tither-Kaplan. No wonder he made a movie that essentially celebrates white male incompetence and abuse. When Wiseau and his friend Greg Sestero move to LA to try their luck in Hollywood, it is obvious that they are both painfully, objectively untalented. While Sestero can rely on his good looks and youth, Wiseau’s frighteningly pale skin, long greasy black hair and creepy demeanor puts him in an extreme disadvantage when auditioning for parts. His Eastern European accent would perhaps be forgiven if it wasn’t for his insistence that he is 100% American and from New Orleans. From the very moment anyone meets Wiseau, it’s evident that something is off; yet, his strange behavior is forgiven as quirky and eccentric by Sestero.