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Joaquin Phoenix in Joker

It would probably be an understatement to say things aren’t great in today’s current events. It’s been a tumultuous year so far, and it can feel like there aren’t any signs of things getting better. So in his own concise way, Joker director Todd Phillips dropped some perfect and depressing commentary on the subject, including imagery from his psychological drama.

If you follow Todd Phillips on social media, you know he doesn’t shy away from commenting on social and political issues. He especially likes to use his hit movie Joker as a tool to communicate what he feels is happening in the world today. Recently, he took to social media to do just that. Check it out:

If you’ve seen Joker, this picture of Arther Fleck on the now iconic stairs likely resonates in many different ways. For those that haven’t, this is around the time in the movie where Arthur Fleck, aka. Joker, has his “awakening” moment, a villain born from a cruel society that’s crumbling around him. It's a powerful sequence, and now Todd Phillips has brought it to the current day of self-quarantine.

For a large part of the Joker, the audience witnesses Arthur Fleck endure consistent and cruel torment from everyone around him. In this world, society is a very dark place and Arthur Fleck is a victim of it. Todd Phillips has said before that he believes the film’s over-arching theme is kindness, and also a lack of love and empathy in society.

To a degree, it’s hard to fully interpret what Todd Phillips is getting at with this Instagram photo, but with words like “stay safe,” it’s likely he’s talking about the coronavirus. Most know by now that the pandemic has caused plenty of uncertainty around the world, including the movie industry. As a result, people have been spending more time isolated at home. Phillips comments on his post about how this has affected his perception of days, saying "what's the difference?"

Early this year, all major theaters have shut down and many major studios in Hollywood have halted production and delayed release dates. High profile actors like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have contracted the coronavirus, but have since recovered. While they were lucky, many other actors have passed away due to the virus.

On top of the pandemic, there's an ongoing conversation about race in the country. Protests have inspired change in both legislation and the entertainment world, resulting in institutions like Disney (which recently made the announcement they would change Splash Mountain’s theme) and HBO Max (which temporarily removed Gone with the Wind due to racial stereotypes) to make changes as well.

These combined issues likely contributed to Todd Phillips' message of staying safe. Although such a comforting thought is unique paired with visuals from Joker, just a few scenes before Arthur Fleck inspires Gotham City to fall into chaos. Still, it's nice to hear kind words during this time.

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