Impeachment, Trump, and the Joker Movie


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Photo by Adobe Stock/Konstantin Savusia.

I saw new Joker movie, oh boy. I sat in the back row mad close to the exit—intentionally—because I could not help but think about mass shootings and angry males, especially when I saw a couple of men sitting alone, shifting much in their seats ahead of the darkness and Joker as I entered the theater. Terrible to feel this way, but this is America, and here we are.

As I digested this good-but-not-great character study of the Joker performed by the breathtaking Joaquin Phoenix, I could not help but think about one of the greatest American films ever, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, featuring Robert DeNiro’s star turn as the anti-hero’s hero Travis Bickle and how shamelessly Joker samples and remixes that 1976 film. I also thought a lot about the current state of this country under the beet-red dictatorial thumb of one Donald Trump, a man so bloated with hate and violent tendencies and race and male and wealth privilege gone crazy that an entire nation finds itself trapped in a viciously abusive relationship with him.

Yes, Trump should be impeached. No, I do not think Republicans, or his base, will abandon him, because they need what he represents, what he fuels, just like Travis and Joker need “the others” to blame, to help justify their cruel and crude downward spiral into madness. Besides, what could be easier than to call for the impeachment of Donald Trump because of any—or all—of the following: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election; potential Russian, Ukrainian, or Chinese influence on the 2020 campaign cycle; how he treats immigrants, African Americans, the LGBTQ+ community, women of all backgrounds, workers, the disabled, those with little to no healthcare; his reckless disregard for truth, competency, justice, or basic human decency? I mean, take your pick!

As I watched Joker, I reflected on past presidents like Andrew Johnson who, on the heels of Abe Lincoln’s assassination, publicly rallied hate against newly freed Black citizens with a national speaking tour. I concluded that we must consider the question that we never ask when we look at Richard Nixon or Donald Trump, Taxi Driver or Joker: How do we define manhood in this fair land, and why we can't we see the simple truth that America loves violence in every form because America was “founded” on violence? We obsess over violence like we obsess over food, or the latest iPhone.

7/1/2020 9:13:41 AM

The overstatement in this piece is so grandiose, that any chance of making a legitimate point is lost. The essays assumed universally-accepted premises emanate from a source as odious as the topic of it's rancor. Stop swallowing whole the whole-cloth fantasy-facts that the left has infused into your belief system via endless repetition- just as the right did with Obama. Of course there are legitimate complaints to be made and changes to work toward, but pieces like this just perpetuate the dysfunction.

Conflict Diamond
10/18/2019 2:08:38 PM

This article is a FEAST of food for thought and I am taking comfort in it as a woman of indigenous descent, that others will read it and glut themselves in what I and others have experienced all our lives. Thank you, Mr Powell.

10/18/2019 11:50:14 AM

If I understand Mr. Powell correctly, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is mistaken in characterizing our present period of American experience as an "aberration" because Americans since before their Revolution have used a social construct, "whiteness" that includes "blatantly disturbing notions of manhood," to encourage and excuse a self-centered, anxiety-driven pattern of violence that that has continued right up to our current time. This idea can be seen in the historical characters Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and Trump. As well, the fictional characters, Travis Bickle from the 1976 film "Taxi Driver" and the Joker, in the current DC Films "The Joker," exemplify this fear-driven compunction towards violence "that someone is coming to get us, that someone is coming to take something away from us". Yup, we gotta build that wall, get those blacks into jail and protect our women from those thoroughly criminal Mexicans. I can hear Mr. Powell's idea that "any meaning of manhood built on violence, greed, ego, senseless competition, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or any other sort of debilitating anxiety" is a lie used by those seeking power to dupe us into relinquishing our own power. "You're not a MAN!" Okay. I get it. But this idea is too important to sit as just an opinion piece in Utne. Anatole Kaletsky's 2010 book, Capitalism 4.0: The Birth of a New Economy in the Aftermath of Crisis affected economist's understanding of the 2008 recession everywhere largely because it was not only eloquently readable but exceptionally well researched and written. This idea that Mr. Powell is offering deserves that kind of work, instead of an enigmatic opinion piece in Utne Reader.

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